Release Date: May 11th, 1955 (USA)
Directed by: Ed Wood
Written by: Alex Gordon, Ed Wood
Music by: Frank Worth
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Loretta King, Tony McCoy, Conrad Brooks (uncredited)
Banner Pictures, 75 Minutes
Ed Wood isn’t famous for making great films. In fact, he is famous because of how bad they are. However, Wood’s filmography has a certain charm to it. Their flaws are what defines them and regardless of the fruits of Ed Wood’s labor being somewhat rotten, his heart and his creativity are still at the forefront. Ed Wood was kind of like Rudy, the normal guy with big aspirations but without the necessary tools to fulfill his dream. And like Rudy, he always capitalized, as best as he could, on the opportunities given to him. Opportunities that presented themselves due to his unrelenting passion and drive.
Bride of the Monster is wedged between Wood’s better known films, Glen Or Glenda? and Plan 9 From Outer Space. It is also my favorite of Wood’s work.
This picture features Bela Lugosi more than the other Wood movies. It was also his last speaking role. He is the main villain, an evil scientist named Dr. Eric Vornoff. His scheme is to create a race of super humans and thus, abducts and then kills many men with his experiments. He is aided by a hulking mute named Lobo, who is played by professional wrestler Tor Johnson.
Bride of the Monster also features unnatural thunderstorms, swamp creatures like a snake and a stock footage crocodile. But the biggest monster of all is a huge octopus that the actors had to maneuver convincingly, as it attacked them. The octopus couldn’t move on its own due to it not having a motor to power its movements. All of this was covered pretty well in the 1994 Tim Burton biopic Ed Wood.
As can be expected from a Wood movie, the dialogue is bad, the acting is pretty atrocious, the editing is sloppy and there are more flaws than strengths. Despite all that, it still has great imagination behind it. The plot is layered and it has a lot of depth. However, it may have too many ideas competing against one another and thus, it is kind of a mess.
This certainly isn’t a film for everyone and honestly, it can probably only be enjoyed by those who know Ed Wood’s story. It’s not unwatchable but it isn’t as exciting as it could have been.
I’ve always felt that Wood could’ve turned out better films had he worked under better producers that could steer his vision and help him refine it. Unfortunately, he just couldn’t get that sort of gig, so he went out and made films anyway because it was his passion. While Plan 9 From Outer Space was his most ambitious picture, Bride of the Monster felt like it was closest to his heart.
The majority of the profits from this film went to Samuel Z. Arkoff, who Wood made a deal with in order to get distribution. Arkoff put those profits into the founding of American International Pictures, who were responsible for a ton of great horror, science fiction and blaxploitation films in the 50s, 60s and 70s. So, in some way, this film is historically significant.