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Boris Karloff on the 1935 Set of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’

Boris Karloff James Whale and John Mescall on set of Bride of Frankenstein
Universal Pictures

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Boris Karloff on the 1935 Set of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’

A look behind the lens at one of the most iconic horror films of old Hollywood.

Back before everything was a cinematic universe, 1935 saw the return of Boris Karloff as the iconic monster after 1931’s horror flick “Frankenstein.” In this photo, Karloff, director James Whale, and cinematographer John J. Mescall discuss a scene from the film.

Bride of Frankenstein” was in the works ever since early cuts of the original film impressed studio heads. Though Whale was convinced he had “squeezed the idea dry” after the first film, executives at Universal pursued him doggedly after the success of 1933’s “Invisible Man” and other Universal monster movies, and he eventually relented.

Though the movie is named after her, Frankenstein’s better half barely appears at all in the film, with Karloff’s monster being the focus of most of the film.

The movie was subject to harsh critique and censorship before it was even released. In the United States, the major film studios had self-implemented a set of censorship standard called the Hays Code in 1934, which led to forced cuts of religious imagery and violence in the film. Some countries outright banned the film. Interestingly, no censors made note of the undertones that Dr. Pretorius, one of the main characters, was written with obvious homosexual undertones. The film’s director James Whale was openly gay, which was very unusual at the time, and another reason why this tidbit is so intriguing.

While “Bride of Frankenstein” was met with relatively lukewarm reviews, it is today seen as an all-time horror masterpiece. Most people see distinct improvements in this film over “Frankenstein,” and the film’s influence over the genre is easy to trace. The movie is truly iconic, and a great watch for the Halloween season.

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