Bride of the Monster (1955)

Title

Written and directed by Ed Wood Jr.

Tagline: "More horrifying than ‘Dracula’ – ‘Frankenstein’"

Run Time: 68 min

Other titles: "Bride of the Atom "

“This swamp is a monument to death. Snakes, alligators, quicksand… all bent on one thing: destruction!”
– Lt. Craig


I would like to say from the start that I am an Ed Wood apologist. I think he is great. Sure, he was a terrible director, writer, actor, and editor. But he did everything so perfectly wrong! It is easy to sit here, 50 years after his movies were made, and make fun of his work, noting all the continuity errors, the terrible dialog, and the horrible special effects. Yet you have to remember that Ed had next to no money at all to make these movies and often had to change plots on the fly to placate the producers. Ed also had no formal cinematic training; he just knew that he wanted to make movies…and that he did. It is that which I like most about him: the guts to stick with something you dream of doing no matter how bad the odds.

It is this odd affection that I have for Ed Wood, an affection bordering on pity, that makes it difficult to review his movies. I will be the first to admit that his movies are truly terrible, I don’t believe anybody could deny that. I want to point out the hilarious continuity errors, the terrible acting, the cheap sets, but I don’t wish to point them out in a spirit of contempt, but rather in a spirit of celebration, for his movies are truly bizarre, truly, truly bad, and most important of all: fun!

I’m not going to discuss at length Ed’s relationship with Bela Lugosi. This subject has been discussed ad nauseam on the Internet and in countless books. I will say that I believe that in the beginning there might have been a mutual level of exploitation: Ed needed a "big name" actor to lend credence to his films, and Bela certainly needed work. However, in the end, I believe that their friendship was genuine, and that Ed truly grieved when Bela passed away.

This movie, "Bride of the Monster", as with everything else that Ed touches with his "anti-Midas touch", has a bizarre history behind it. The plot in itself is not overly bizarre, but rather banal: A mad Russian scientist, Dr. Vornoff, tries to create a race of super-powerful giants that he will use to rule the world. If anybody else but Ed Wood had made this movie, it probably would have never gotten nearly the amount of attention that is has received. Yet, as only he is so wonderfully able to do, Ed managed to turn it into a bizarre work, complete with an inanimate giant octopus, a mute lab assistant with an angora fetish, a parakeet loving police chief, and of course, an atomic explosion.

The original title of the film was "Bride of the Atom", yet the producer (and the only person who was paying to make the film) Donald McCoy, disagreed with the "nuclear message", and wanted a title that wouldn’t ‘glorify’ the use of atomic power. Thus, poor Ed had to change the title to "Bride of the Monster", and rewrite the script to include a scene of an atomic explosion as a warning of its danger (a scene which is shoe-horned into the ending sequence with typical Ed Wood finesse).

The producer, Don McCoy, is also involved in another interesting bit of trivia. Since Don was bankrolling the whole film, he thought it would be nice if his son, Tony, could get a part in the picture, like say, the role of the lead detective! What could Ed do? He had to say yes if the movie was to be made, so he swallowed his pride yet again and gave the lead policeman’s role to Tony; despite the fact that he had no acting experience at all! (This lack of acting talent is all too apparent throughout film. Even given the total lack of talent in the majority of the other actors, he still sticks out…he’s that bad.)

Without a doubt, "Bride of the Monster" is a fun film. It’s fast paced and has an entertaining performance by Bela Lugosi. The film is also full of Ed Wood "weirdness" to hold your interest: Where else can you see a police chief playing with a parakeet while discussing a murder case? Or see a Bela Lugosi stunt "double" wearing platform shoes fight it out ala ‘World Wrestling Federation’ style with the Super Swedish Angel in a laboratory made of cardboard? Or see a shirtless cop, a woman in a bride’s gown, a giant octopus, and an atomic explosion all within 5 seconds of each other?

Ah well, enough talk. Let’s get started here and have some fun!

The Cast:

Bela Dr. Eric Vornoff (Bela Lugosi)

Russian scientist Eric Vornoff has fled his homeland to America. He lives in the secluded Willow house where he attempts (not too successfully) to transform living things into giants, or in his own words: "A race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world." After all his efforts, his only success has been to create a giant octopus which he keeps as a pet in the swamp (and keeps well fed with nosey intruders that come to the house). Bela was a frail old man at this point in time, but being the professional that he was, he gives his all and plays his part with surprising passion and conviction.

Lobo Lobo (Tor Johnson

A giant that Dr. Vornoff "found in Tibet", Tor stomps around and helps keep intruders in check by whacking them with his patented "Super-Swedish Angel Two-Handed Overhead Smash". Lobo somehow manages to sneak up on just about everybody despite being 6-foot 4-inches high and weighing over 300 pounds. Lobo also has an odd angora fetish and keeps reporter Janet Lawson’s angora hat in his pants after he finds her in the swamp. The beast eventually falls in love with the beauty and dies while attempting to save her from Vornoff’s evil clutches. While watching the film, try not to notice the scar taped onto his cheek, or the way the scar changes size, shape, and color from scene to scene.

Tony Lt. Dick Craig (Tony McCoy)

Son of producer Don McCoy, Tony gives his all in this performance…and it sure the hell isn’t very much. This is non-acting at it’s best. Dick manages to get stuck in knee-deep quicksand, and get his ass kicked by Lobo, before escaping Vornoff and eventually rolling a giant paper-mâché boulder onto the evil scientist.

Robbins Caption Tom Robbins (Harvey Dunn)

Police Captain Tom Robbins plays with his parakeet, provides occasional, *ahem*, comic relief, and not too much else. He eventually makes his way out to the swamp in order to arrest Vornoff, but the operation goes awry and Vornoff is eaten by a giant octopus, struck by lightning, and disintegrated in an atomic explosion.

Strosky Prof. Vladimir Strowski (George Becwar)

Russian scientist Dr. Strowski, has searched the world over, from Loch Ness to Marsh Lake, in his quest to find Vornoff. His attempt to convince Vornoff to return home results only in his being fed to the octopus. It’s funny to hear the actor forget to use his ‘Russian’ accent from time to time. Actor George Becwar often complained about the lousy working conditions on Ed Wood’s movie sets, eventually earning Ed’s eternal dislike for him.

Loretta Janet Lawton (Loretta King)

The hot-headed and top-heavy reporter who tries in vain to convince the police that a monster is responsible for the disappearances in Marsh Lake. She decides to investigate herself and nearly ends up becoming Vornoff’s "Bride of the Atom."

Kelton Officer Kelton (Paul Marco)

Officer Kelton, the bumbling policeman, appears in several of Ed Wood’s films:"Bride of the Monster", "Night of the Ghouls", and of course, "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Kelton supplies the awkward and embarrassing comedy "relief" bits throughout the film; the relief is much needed, but it’s way too little and way too late.

Octopus The Octopus

This octopus is so famous it deserves its own spot in the cast lineup. Ed Wood "borrowed" this giant rubber octopus from the Republic Studio’s warehouse, but forgot to take the motor that moved the arms. Ed, never one to give up, simply had the actors move the octopus’s arms while they were being consumed by the beast.

Our film begins in typical Ed Wood fashion…lots of lightning and thunder! The credits are played over a dark and spooky house (well, a painting of a house, but you get the point). More bolts of lightning segue to a scene showing a couple of hunters, or drunks, something, as they wander through the woods in the storm. They serve up nice wads of exposition explaining that the weather has been very strange lately, in fact, it’s rained "every night for the last three months". They decide to head for safety since the lightning is getting worse and worse (in fact, it struck a tree just beside them, so their fears are warranted).

The two scramble under a knocked over tree, and in the next scene we see them scramble up from the same tree, but on the other side. I think Ed is trying to make us believe that they have been walking for some time now, but who really knows with that guy. Anyway, for some reason the two soaked men determine that they will never be able to make it to the "main road", so they seek refuge at the Willow House instead. (Dum! Dum! Dum! (cue lightning bolt))

WillowThe two men duck back under the tree and sure enough the next scene shows them coming out from under the same tree, just the other side. We are to believe that they have walked to the Willow House, so I’ll suspend my disbelief and just play along. They in fact see the house through the rain and darkness, and despite the fact that the place "just don’t look healthy", they make their way through the rain and wind to the house. (It would have given more credence to his statement that "it’s been abandoned for years" if the set artist hadn’t painted the house with the lights on…)

When they approach the house, the 2 men notice that in fact the house is occupied. They knock on the door and Dr. Vornoff quickly appears and brusquely asks them what they want ("Vat doo you vant?"). (In a well known continuity error, you can see that the door has a different shape and color (!) depending on whether the door is shown from the outside or the inside of the house. Ed must have noticed this himself…I just don’t think he gave a damn to change it.)

The wet men try to get shelter from the storm but Vornoff refuses to allow them entry into his house. When the men insist, Vornoff summons Lobo, who appears and quickly scares them away from the house and back into the woods. When the men run away, Vornoff goes back inside and into his secret laboratory (complete with refrigerator!). Just as Vornoff enters the lab through the secret entrance in the fireplace (requiring the pulling of a not-very-hidden switch on the mantel), he gleefully commands Lobo to deal with the hunters, to which Lobo stomps off to do the evil deed.

In the lab Vornoff dons his white lab coat, because, well, he’s a scientist. Taking a peek through the window placed in the wall, Vornoff sees that his giant octopus is still in its lair. He then proceeds to walk aimlessly around the lab flicking switches and turning dials. I don’t know why. He then goes to another window that gives him an underwater view of Marsh Lake, through which he can watch stock footage of an octopus swimming around, er, I mean watch the giant octopus swim around. (Never mind that the ‘underwater’ window is at shoulder height, thus the entire house would have to underwater. Ed…how do you do it?)

Attack

Meanwhile, after watching more lightning flashes, we see the 2 hunters running through the woods and rain, trying to get back to the road. One of the hunters manages to slip into the lake. The viewer is required to suspend disbelief as stock footage of an octopus in an aquarium is interspersed with the hunter laying on top of the inanimate ‘giant’ octopus. (The hunter does a commendable job moving the motor-less octopus arms in an effort to ‘help’ the octopus attack him.)

As the second hunter fires his rifle at the octopus in an effort to save his companion, Lobo comes up from behind, knocks him out, and drags him back to the house.

We now see the hunter has revived to find himself strapped to a gurney with what looks like a wok attached to his head. To add to the aura of ‘science’, we see some spark-plugs have been glued to said ‘helmet’. The tension rises as Vornoff turns on some sort of device suspended over the victim’s head (nothing more than a dark-room photographic enlarger!) Vornoff makes his way again from dial to dial, knob to knob, fiddling with instruments and doing lots of ‘scientific’ stuff.

SurpriseFinally reaching the main switch, Vornoff tells his subject not to worry for he will soon have the strength of 20 men or "… like all the others: dead!" (Hmmm. Not a great track record there, Vornoff…) Well, not too surprisingly, the guy dies as massive electrical currents race through his body (where exactly did Vornoff study science?). Vornoff gets a shocked look on his face (no pun intended) when the man dies, which is surprising in itself since he mentioned that all his other subjects also died…Hmmm…he sends 30,000 volts through his victims and they all die…Vornoff’s a regular Einstein, I tell ya!

Seeing that he has failed yet again in his goal of creating a giant, Vornoff turns off the switches and checks the man’s vital signs while Lobo does his best to look concerned.

A downtrodden Vornoff goes over to his underwater-viewing window and gazes at some octopus stock footage. Waxing philosophic, he notes, "Isn’t it strange, Lobo, our friend always returns home after his long and tiresome swim." What this statement has to do with the recent failed attempt to create a giant is beyond me. Fade to next scene.

HeadlineHeadline

Now we see Officer Kelton at work at police headquarters after getting a glimpse of the above headlines. (Wow! When a story makes the front page of "The Daily Chronicle" AND "The Daily Globe" you know it’s something big!)

drunkKelton is busy questioning a vagrant who was arrested "in the swamp". Well, whatever, he’s taken away for booking (what was that scene all about?) Interesting to note that the guy playing the drunk in this movie is the same, ahem, ‘actor’ that played the mourner in "Plan 9 From Outer Space" who says "Well, it’s getting dark!" (If you’ve seen the movie then you’ll know exactly who I mean!)

Anyway, in strolls the happy-go-lucky newspaper man, "Billy", with the Chief’s morning paper. Billy strolls past the ever-alert Kelton and starts to go into the Chief’s office when Kelton stops him and indicates that he will take the papers to the chief (in the never-ending quest for brownie points).

After some really lame banter, which I don’t have the energy to relate to you here, Kelton ends up with the papers and takes them to the Chief’s The Chief’s, Tom Robbins, is sitting as his desk with a parakeet on his finger (!!). (Ed…how do you do it!) I don’t know if the parakeet is an attempt at characterization but remembering that this is an Ed Wood film makes me doubt that it is. In any case it is truly bizarre. Chief’s Robbins chews exchanges some more ‘funny’ dialog with Kelton before dismissing him.

BirdAfter a strange scene showing Chief Robbins give his bird some water to drink (I’m not making this up), in comes Lt. Craig (played by the producer’s son, Tony McCoy, as noted earlier). I will not mention every time he makes a poor delivery, so let’s just say that he is an anti-actor, a void that sucks in everyone else’s thespian efforts who happen to be in a scene with him.

Craig and Chief Robbins discuss the latest disappearances with typical Ed Wood-esque dialog (See Classic Lines). We learn through Chief Robbins exposition that Lt. Craig’s girlfriend, Janet, is the reporter responsible for the sensational headlines (I don’t know which paper, all of them?).

Craig then takes the missing hunter’s rifle from a bookshelf (!) behind Chief Robbins’ desk (!!) (Umm, haven’t they heard of an ‘Evidence Room’?) and begins examining it for clues.

It turns out that some boys found the hunter’s jacket in the lake (yes, the jacket is sitting in the bookshelf too), and they found the rifle "about a mile from the Willow Place." Amazingly, Craig says that "it all ties together!", but the wise Robbins hastily adds "Yes, but it doesn’t prove anything!" (What is going on here? I’m no great sleuth, but am I missing something here?)

Referring to the newspaper headlines on the newspapers, Craig asks Robbins if he thinks there’s any truth to the monster stories. Robbins is of the opinion that police deal with facts, "and only facts!", which seems to be a good position to take as chief of police.

Suddenly, in barges Janet Lawton, the hot-headed news reporter, and Lt. Craig’s fiancee. She shoves the bumbling Kelton out of her way (Har! Har!) and storms across the room to Robbins and Craig. Next comes an odd scene (What? An odd scene in an Ed Wood movie? Impossible!), where Janet accuses Craig of withholding information from the press, and more importantly, from her. I’ll spare you the details of the scene, but I will say that Janet accuses Craig of hiding information, which he denies. She threatens to call of the wedding (!) to which Robbins calls her bluff. (Must have been a slow day at police headquarters.) Anyhoo, she backs down and exposits that there have been 12 disappearances in the last 3 months around Lake Marsh. (If that description of the scene seems a bit strange, then I did a good job describing it.) Janet insinuates that if they won’t tell her anything, then maybe she’ll go out there and investigate herself.

View

Note murder evidence rumpled on the bookcase…nice view too!

Janet "Just-crazy-enough-to-do-it" heads over to the newspaper’s records department in order dig up more information about the Willow Place.

As a brief aside, there is another classic continuity error involving the clerk in the office. When she is shown from behind she has a pencil behind her ear and when she is filmed from the front, yes, the pencil is gone. Once again, this blunder is obvious even to the most casual viewer, so Ed must have noticed too…but he didn’t bother fixing it. The same mistake occurs later in the movie when the police are interviewing her. And yes, I know that spotting continuity errors in an Ed Wood film doesn’t require the viewer to be extra alert, but the ‘disappearing pencil’ happens over and over and over…it’s just begging to be mentioned!

PencilPencil

Now you see it, now you don’t!

GirlsAfter reading through a bunch of papers, Janet finds what she was after (I’m not sure what it is she found since they never say). Satisfied with her investigative efforts, Janet leaves the office and bumps into Margie in the hallway. As you may or may not know, the actress playing Margie is none other than Ed’s girlfriend Dolores Fuller. Anyway, she makes fun of Janet’s ‘monster’ headlines because, well, it’s in the script. Who knows. Well, that being over with, let’s continue.

Back at police headquarters, none other than the world famous monster hunter, Prof. Vladimir Strowski, has arrived and is chatting with Chief Robbins and Lt. Craig. It turns out that the Professor is an expert on, and I will quote Prof. Strowski himself, "…prehistoric monsters".

Strowski has traveled all the way to, well, wherever this film is taking place, in order to investigate the so called ‘monster’ (what with his Ph.D. in "Prehistoric Monsters" it just makes sense, eh?) Anyway, Chief Robbins suggests that Craig should accompany Strowski to which Strowski agrees. Since it is nearing nightfall, they decide to meet in at the "swamp" in the morning. Strowski takes his leave as does Lt. Craig. Just as Craig is leaving Robbins warns him to "watch Strowski"…hmmm. OK. I’m not sure why the suspect him of anything. Because he’s Russian? Because he’s a scientist? Because he has a Ph.D. in "Prehistoric Monsters"?

Meanwhile Janet has driven out to the swamp to investigate since the police seem reluctant to take her ‘monster’ theory seriously. She leaves the newspaper offices and walks to her car. Before getting in, she puts on an angora hat (Ed! You naughty man!). Ignoring the storm clouds (and huge flashes of lightning), she drives off.

Well, while driving through the woods she gets a flat and loses control of the car. The vehicle comes to rest in the ditch just beside a tree with a massive rubber snake hanging from the limbs. You gotta see this to believe it, I mean the thing looks like an anaconda!

Snake

Janet gets out of the car, somehow avoiding seeing the 15-foot long snake hanging 5 inches in front of her face. Seeing that she is in a bind, she lays down beside the car (?) and casually looks around. It is then that she notices the snake (along with a stock footage shot of a boa in a jungle!). Seeing the massive serpent, she does what all women do in these types of movies: screams and faints.

Well, luckily for Janet, or maybe not, Lobo just happened to be on patrol in the area. Seeing the motionless woman at the mercy of the viscous rubber snake, Lobo charges over (well,maybe not ‘charges’, but as fast as Tor Johnson could run), tears the snake down from the branches, and bashes its rubber head against the tree. He then takes Janet’s hat, sniffs hit, and hides it in his pants. (Hey, I’m only telling you what’s happening. Lobo doesn’t have any pockets, so I can only assume that he put it down the side…oh Lord, am I really writing this?!)

Anyway, with another lightning-bolt segue, we see Janet awaking in Vornoff’s laboratory. Vornoff assures her that everything is OK. When she starts pressing for more information, he pulls the old "…your getting sleepy…sleepy…" hypnotizing trick, and quickly puts her to sleep.

After Vornoff successfully hypnotizes Janet, we get to kill some more runtime and listen to some hilarious Ed Wood dialog. We see it’s the next day, well, at least the sun is shining and birds are singing. Lt. Craig and another detective, Marty, are driving around the swamp looking for clues. They reach a ‘fork in the road’ and decide it’s a good place to get out and take a smoke. Marty says that he hates the swamp to which Craig teases him by replying that some people just aren’t cut out for "swamp duty" (?). While the camera pans across some trees, weeds, and other ‘swampy’ things, Marty continues to complain about the swamp. (See Classic Lines)

Well, after establishing that the swamp is ‘A Bad Place To Be’, the detectives drive off to, well, continue investigating. We watch them drive around some more when suddenly they come across Janet’s abandoned car. After seeing that the car is empty, they figure that she probably is on foot looking for help. Marty remembers that there was a cafe "about ten miles down the road" and suggests that they go there first. (!?)

Meanwhile, Strowski has also reached the swamp and has begun snooping around on his own. (Yes, he was supposed to meet Craig at 10 o’clock, but he has apparently blown them off. Craig briefly mentioned this in the previous scene, but nothing more was ever made of it.)

CoffeeHaving safely reached the cafe, Craig and Marty have a cup of coffee and report what their findings to Captain Robbins. Robbins "doesn’t like the sound of this" and tells them to get back in the swamp and find Strowski. (Why does he suspect Strowski of any wrong doing? He is a leading expert in the field of "Prehistoric Monsters", so you would think he’d be above suspicion.)

Back in Vornoff’s lab, Janet has awakened again and sees Vornoff and Lobo bringing her some breakfast. Seeing Lobo for the first time, Janet is understandably a bit nervous, but Vornoff reassures her that he is "as gentle as a kitten." Lobo, who has fallen in love with the plucky reporter, tries to grab her at which time Vornoff grabs a bull whip and proceeds to beat Lobo mercilessly. (Gentle as a kitten, eh? I have to admit that seeing Bela Lugosi whipping the crap out of Tor Johnson’s ‘Lobo’ is something you just don’t see everyday!)

Well, Lobo having blown the whole "gentle as a kitten" charade, is beaten and whipped out of the lab. Vornoff resumes sitting beside Janet and barfs out chunks of exposition that could choke a horse. To make a long story short, Vornoff finds out that Janet is a reporter and that she has been snooping around looking for a monster. While the 2 of them are engaged in this pleasant chat, we see Strowski making his way to the Willow Place. Well, a painting of the willow place. How do I know? I can see the shadows from the tree branches on the painting itself. (I tried to take a screen-shot but it didn’t show up, you just have to see it to believe it…it’s pretty funny.)

Vornoff tires of the conversation and puts Janet back to sleep (you’d think he’d be starved for company after living with the mute Lobo all these years…). He then instructs Lobo to take her to his chambers…mwaaha ha ha ha! Just then, Strowski lets himself into the house and starts snooping around the living room. After nearly a full minute of watching Strowski look around (and it’s as exciting to watch as it sounds), Vornoff comes into the room and greets Strowski. It turns out that they know each other from somewhere…who knows where.

Vornoff and Strowski sit down for a nice chat in the dark, musty living room. Strowski (here the actor forgets to use his accent…good grief!) wants Vornoff to return to "their country" since the government is now ready to recognize Vornoff’s contributions to science (ummm…making a giant octopus and electrocuting people with a wok?). Vornoff, having lived in bitter isolation in 20 years, has no intention of returning to Russia or whatever the hell place he is from.

It is here that Lugosi gives his classic "I have no home" speech which is actually quite good. I must say that it is certainly the highest quality dialog I’ve ever seen in an Ed Wood film. Lugosi becomes overwhelmed with emotion and explains that he has no home anymore, he is an outcast, doomed to a life of isolation with only his dream of ruling the world to give him reason to live. (In a nutshell.)

When Vornoff says that he has no intention of returning, Strowski pulls a gun and says that he was ordered to return with Vornoff at any cost. Doh! Bad idea. Lobo has somehow snuck up behind him (actually he snuck into the scene from an angle that Strowski had full view of, so I dunno about that one…). Well, Lobo does what he’s paid to do and casts the struggling Strowski into the octopus lair via the access door in the lab. Like the others, Strowski wriggles and squirms, and does his best to move the octopus arms so that it looks like he’s being killed.

While Strowski struggles with the motor-less octopus, Craig and Marty have found Strowski’s car out in the swamp. Noting that there is something strange going on (well, duh!) Lt. Craig decides to make his way through the swamp and check out the Willow Place while Mart goes to investigate the beach (?). After pushing his way through some bushes, Craig helpfully stumbles into a waist-deep hole that is supposed to be full of quicksand or something. Ed managed to dig up some stock footage of an alligator which we get to see, thus creating the magnificent illusion that Craig is in danger of being devoured while stuck in the quicksand. (Needless to say, the illusion is not very effective.) As the, *ahem*, alligators close in to feast on Craig, he fires 8 shots out of his 6 shot revolver, thus driving the alligators back into the movie that they originally came from. Seeing that the action sequence is now over, Craig pulls himself from the hole and continues on to the Willow Place. (This whole scene is so utterly pointless and unexciting, it boggles the mind.)

While Craig struggles for survival in the swamp, Capt. Robbins is interviewing the clerk at the newspaper office (and yes, we get to watch the ‘disappearing pencil’ in all its hilarious glory). I’ll spare you once again from the terrible dialog and give you the quick version: Robbins finds out that Janet was going out to the Willow Place. Brother. That was much easier.

ReadyNow the evil Professor Vornoff has finished his preparations for his next victim: Janet. He summons her from her room with some hocus-pocus hand waving, and out she comes dressed in a bridal gown. (?) Lobo reluctantly straps Janet to the table, urged on with some more whipping by Vornoff, because you see, Lobo is in love with Janet and doesn’t want to hurt her. Awww…isn’t that sweet? In the meantime, Craig has survived the swamp’s stock footage and is snooping around inside the Willow Place. He accidentally triggers the switch that opens the secret passage to the laboratory (wasn’t that convenient!), and stealthily enters.

ElbowsJust as Vornoff is about to begin the experiment, in bursts Craig, pistol drawn. (See Classic Lines) Well, Lobo manages to sneak up behind Craig (how does he do it?!) and knock him out. Our unconscious hero is then chained to the wall (by his elbows!) to await his fate. But never fear, Capt Robbins, Officer Kelton and some others are now making their way to the Willow House for the final showdown! (I never thought a 68 minute movie could seem so long….)

The drama now comes to a head as Vornoff begins enabling the equipment. Out of Vornoff’s line of sight, Lobo pulls Janet’s angora hat out from his pants, gives it a little rub, and places it beside her cheek. Choosing to protect Janet instead of obeying Vornoff, Lobo turns off the photo-enlarger shining on Janet’s head and attacks Vornoff. Despite being shot 5 times in the gut, Lobo manages to knock the crap out of Vornoff and unstrap Janet from the table.

As Lobo makes his way to the motionless Vornoff, Janet jumps down from the table and grabs Craig’s gun from a tray. She scurries over Craig and begins untying him while Lobo picks up Vornoff and straps him onto the experiment table instead. (Oh…the irony!) Finally untied and once again armed with his revolver, Craig and Janet merely watch while Lobo turns on all the equipment and zaps Vornoff.

I really wish there was more to tell you in these scenes…there’s really nothing here…Lobo stomps from place to place, Vornoff is strapped motionless onto a gurney, while Craig and Janet watch silently from the corner. What is there to tell? It’s excruciating to watch, so I apologize if it’s excruciating to read…but misery loves company.

Eventually Craig attacks Lobo (why not just shoot him? Yes, OK, he took 5 shots to the gut and doesn’t even show any bullet wounds, but still, it’s worth a try, eh?). Lobo throws Craig around a bit and knocks him out. Lobo returns to his work and throws the switch, zapping Professor Vornoff with his own instruments of madness.

Well, what do you know, Robbins (sans parakeet) and the others have arrived at the Willow Place and start to "surround" the place (which may prove difficult since Robbins took along only 3 officers). Robbins and Marty enter the house just as things are starting to heat up in the lab.

We cut to see Vornoff tearing the restraining straps aside like they were, oh, fake restraining straps. Vornoff rises from the gurney and attacks Lobo from behind (a rather large target, I might add). The action sequence that follows obviously required too much physical activity for the ailing Lugosi, so Ed found a ‘stunt’ double to take his place. Needless to say, the stunt double looks nothing like Lugosi (sound familiar…?). Furthermore, since Vornoff is supposed to have grown in size as a result of the experiment, the stunt double wears absolutely ridiculous platform shoes (!) in order to make him appear taller. To see all of these components, the platform shoes, the mismatched stunt double, Tor Johnson as the mute Lobo, well, it’s something the viewer won’t soon forget.

Yes, Vornoff’s first success after all these years of failure turns out to be himself. Oh, the irony…the bitter, bitter, irony…

Dead LoboTor uses what were probably some of his favorite wrestling moves in this battle of the titans, along with braining the monster with a beaker and a balsa wood table. The monster staggers Lobo with a final beaker-smash to the head, sending the Tibetan hulk reeling into a bank of instruments. This contact sends up a shower of sparklers to indicate that Lobo is being electrocuted. In fact, the entire lab somehow catches fire, which is odd since it’s a stone room (well, stones painted onto cardboard). With Lobo’s demise, Vornoff-monster grabs Janet and drags her out of the lab while Craig lies unconscious amongst the roaring flames.

Whoops. I take that last part back. Craig regains consciousness (surprise…yawn) and does a oh-so-cool rolling jump over some knee-high flames as he escapes from the lab.

Meanwhile, noting the growing amount of smoke in the house, Captain Robbins and Marty flee outside where Kelton points out the Vornoff-monster carrying the unconscious Janet into the swamp. The monster sets Janet down as a bolt of lightning strikes the house painting and the house goes up in flames. Hmmm. Ok. Seeing Vornoff-monster on top of the hill, the police open fire on him. The bullets have no effect to our great surprise (not!).

Now I want to take a brief pause here to point something out. The end sequence of this movie is so poorly edited that it is nearly impossible to follow along. Well, yes, I know what is happening, but only because my mind can fill in the gaps that Ed’s editing has created. Instead of trying to explain what it happening, I will simply relate to you the sequence of scenes so you can have as much fun as I did:

Monster runs back down the hill

Kelton falls down the hill and hurts his leg

Craig runs up the the hill

Bela Lugosi scowls into the camera

Dick helps the injured Kelton

Bela Lugosi grimaces into the camera

Monster walks in front of a paper-mâché boulder

A shot of Dick pushing a rock in the daytime in the desert !!??

Bela looks to the left

Stock footage of an octopus

Bela looks to the right

Dick pushes the paper-mace boulder onto the monster at the top of the hill

Monster falls onto giant octopus at the bottom of hill

Monster struggles with the octopus

A shot of a bolt of lightning

A shot of an atomic bomb explosion

I can’t take anymore. Craig cradles the stunned Janet in his arms while Capt. Robbins join them to watch the mushroom cloud stock footage. As the music reaches its crescendo, Robbins sagely notes "He tampered in God’s domain."

I often wonder if he’s talking about Vornoff or Ed Wood…

The End

Made in Hollywood, U.S.A.

Dennis Grisbeck (April 2005)

Afterthoughts

This movie is really, really bad. The story is plodding and certainly uninspired, the script is for the most part horrible and unimaginative, the acting, when there ever is any, is either totally wooden or totally over the top, and the editing is simply atrocious. Although this film is more competent, and I use the term loosely, than say "Plan 9", it is still just plain awful. I can recommend it to anybody who likes Ed Wood films, and it certainly bears his unique style of incompetence. However, "Bride of the Monster" lacks the total, utter ineptitude that made "Plan 9" so much fun…this movie is just downright horrible.

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3 comments to Bride of the Monster (1955)

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