Welcome back! Once again, your lunchtime routine of aimlessly clicking through the embarrassing list of bookmarks that pass as your “interests” has brought us together. Well, are you ready for another excursion into the realm of classic B-movies? (Don’t just say yes. If you really don’t feel ready, put this aside and try jogging in place or maybe do some “Zumba” until you feel sufficiently enthused.) This week we’re taking a look at another Ed Wood classic, Bride of the Monster.
This movie has the distinction of being Ed Woods biggest-budgeted attempt at filmmaking. At first viewing, you might wonder “Okay, so where exactly in the movie did all this extra money go?” You’ll also be wondering this at second and third viewing. The truth is, nobody knows. Suffice it to say that despite having a little more cash at his disposal, Mr. Wood was still able to create another cinematic tour de force in ineptitude. (Which is a good thing.)
Cast of Characters:
Dr. Eric Vornoff: The quintessential brilliant mad-scientist, Doctor Vornoff has been trying to perfect a method of creating a race of giant, evil, atomic-powered supermen. Unfortunately the closest he’s come is a slightly-larger-than-average evil octopus. But in spite of an evil lifetime of failure, this evil doctor is still able to share a few evil laughs with his evil pal Lobo…
Lobo: Lobo is your typical career henchman. He has embraced every possible stereotype that’s ever been associated with the Igor/evil-sidekick type character: Bald: Check… Mute: Check… Facial scars: Check… Weird angora fetish: Huh? That’s right, Lobo goes cuckoo for angora, just like good old Ed Wood Junior. Coincidence? Who cares.
Lt. Dick Craig: This loser is supposed to be the protagonist. But I’m guessing you’ll be rooting for him to die after watching a couple of his scenes. Unfortunately he survives to the bitter end. Sorry.
Janet Lawton: Janet is a feisty young reporter who also has the misfortune of being Lt. Dick’s fiancé. She’s investigating the strange events that have been occurring in the evil swamp near Dr. Vornoff’s evil lair.
Octopus: Dr. Vornoff has an octopus. It’s evil, too.
Pop quiz! The single most important resource to an aspiring Mad Scientist also happens to be the hardest to come by. Can you guess what it is? Lightning?…No (although that’s a close second). Electronic props with lights that blink arbitrarily?…Nope. The answer, of course, is Test Subjects. You could own all the bunsen burners and jacob’s ladders in the world but without a few healthy human beings to poke at, you’re just a lunatic in a lab coat. Fortunately for Dr. Eric Vornoff, the village that neighbors his hidden swamp-lair has no shortage of idiots who can’t seem to help themselves from wandering into his gator-infested domain.
The film opens with the latest of his long list of victims, a pair of half-witted hunters. These two meet their amusing demise after making the mistake of knocking on the doctor’s front door. One is strangled to death (or possibly tickled to death–it’s hard to tell) by the rubber octopus. The other gets strapped to a table and fitted with a colander on his head — he is to become Vornoff’s next lab rat (as well his next failure). Dr. Vornoff turns a few dials and throws a switch, bathing the poor man in atomic energy or whatever. This kills him almost instantly and the doctor is left with yet another dead test subject. It’s clear that this is the usual result of his experiments. No sooner is the man dead then Lobo quickly and instinctually disposes of the body by feeding it to the giant octopus. In fact, the octopus’s only purpose in the movie is to serve as a garbage disposal unit (and to provide unintended comic relief).
Before long, Vornoff’s next victim stumbles into his secret lair (the townspeople seem to be lining up for a chance to participate in his experiments!) This time it’s Janet Lawton, reporter for the Whatever-town-this-is Journal. After parking her car neatly into the side of a tree, she decides it’s a good time for a nap/faints. Loyal Lobo promptly collects her and brings her back to Dr. Vornoff, who dresses young Janet in a lovely wedding gown that he happened to have lying around his lab(?) Conveniently, the gown is a perfect fit for Janet’s…um…buxom frame, and must be quite comfortable too because she doesn’t even notice she’s wearing it when she wakes up. Inevitably, she ends up strapped to a table in the lab, positioned under Vornoff’s atomic ray-gun device.
The film’s pivotal scene takes place shortly thereafter, when poor misunderstood Lobo realizes that he’s fallen in love with the enchanting Miss Janet Lawton (or at least with her angora).
There comes a time in every evil-henchman’s life when he begins to question the actions of his master. It’s a necessary part of henchman development — as natural as a baby teething, or a teenage boy’s compulsive experimentation with mascara. I’m sure you recall the climactic scene at the end of that Star Wars movie when Darth Vader turned against his boss, the Emperor, and threw him down an air shaft. (If you don’t, then stop wasting your time reading this crap and and go reacquaint yourself with Return of the Jedi!) Believe it or not, the very same conflict arises in Bride of the Monster…and for a fraction of the cost! Lobo’s sudden change of heart drives him to release Janet from her restraints and put Dr. Vornoff under the atomic device instead! However, unlike the scene in Return of the Jedi, Lobo’s betrayal backfires and he finds himself face to face with an Atomic-Powered Super Vornoff. Can you smell the irony? Eric Vornoff’s first and only successful test on a human subject is on himself…and he’s too hopped up on radiation to appreciate it. In any event, he ends up getting crushed by a giant boulder-shaped ball of papier-mâché, and the movie ends.
Here, enjoy a clip!