18. Bride of Frankenstein
directed by James Whale
The original Frankenstein was one of the first true horror masterpieces, an incredible meditation, if such a word can be used, on crime and punishment and the genesis of human depravity. Bride of Frankenstein pushed the social criticisms even further, going past even Mary Shelley’s original novel, and laying them directly at the feet of God, in whose image the true monsters of the film were made. Where Frankenstein was about a man challenging God and being struck down, Bride of Frankenstein is about a Godless world, a world of devils and monsters, abandoned by their Creator to horror and violence. Consistently, Whale places the beautiful, as opposed to Frankenstein’s ugly creature, as the bringers of destruction and suffering, suggesting an essential flaw in the human makeup that is the center of all horror filmmaking – how is this cruelty possible? For James Whale, to be cruel is human, and the only solace from the horror is found in complete isolation, or destruction, before the bitterness and pain makes a monster of you.