Hey kids, you know what time it is? It's Ed Wood time!
Ed Wood is the world's most well known bad movie director. I'm just going to dive straight into this movie - if you want an introduction to Ed Wood, read my Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda reviews.
Bela Lugosi stars as the mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff - the main bad guy. Bride of the Monster is also the first Ed Wood movie with Tor Johnson in it. Tor Johnson is the wrestler that played the giant zombie in Plan 9 from Outer Space, and primarily attacked people by slapping them in the shoulders. His role here is pretty similar here as Bela Lagosi's lab slave named Lobo. You'd think a wrestler would know other ways to take people down without hurting them, but whatever.
The movie starts with two guys outside in a storm, talking about how it's the worst one yet. The footage is so dark you can barely see anything, but I think that's the whole point with this scene. It's kind of boring actually - they just talk about some monster that's been making people disappear. The two of them walk off, and one of them trips - I'm pretty sure it wasn't scripted.
They end up walking up to a supposedly deserted house.
"I thought you said it was supposed to be deserted." Why would he say that? There’s been no sign of anything going on inside yet. You might as well go up to a dead hollowed up tree and say "This tree's seen better days." One of the men then knocks on the door. Dr. Vornoff soon opens the door and asks,
"What do you want?"
"Let's get out of here," one says to the other. Why are you saying that? You're looking for a shelter, knock on the door of a place that's supposed to be abandoned, and suggest that you leave after someone answers the door? These characters are just begging to be killed off.
"We didn't think anyone lived here."
The two of them beg Vornoff to let them inside, despite the fact that he keeps saying,
"You can't stay, You're not welcome in my house."
[Tor Johnson as Lobo]
Lobo eventually shows up behind the two men with his arms in the air and they run off, calling Tor "The Monster." Vornoff then walks into a room with a fireplace and Lobo follows behind. Vornoff sticks out his hand and Lobo walks off. What? Did I miss something here? Apparently Vornoff has such control over his lab slave that a simple wave of his hand tells Lobo exactly what he wants him to do. I wish I had that kind of control over my Blu Ray player, I could just skip right through the disk's opening and head straight to the movie. Stupid un-skippable copyright warnings telling me not to pirate the movie that I've ALREADY LEGITIMATELY BOUGHT! Sorry, got a little side-tracked there.
Vornoff walks into a lab and puts on a coat. He looks at an octopus and gives it a stoned smile. Yup, Bela's stoned in this movie too - surely this means hilarity will ensue once this thing gets moving. Oh, the octopus is definitely stock footage, because when we see Vornoff looking in his aquarium, all we see is water intercut with video footage of an octopus swimming around in the ocean.
Cut back to the men from earlier. They are running toward a boat as one keeps talking about "the monster." he slips into the lake and starts screaming, intercut with stock footage of the octopus. We then see him on the ground with a bunch of fake tentacle props that are barely moving. Heck, most of the tentacle movement is the actor grabbing onto them and flopping them around himself.
Seriously, this has to be seen to be believed and this picture doesn't do it justice. The other guy starts shooting his gun, but it doesn't seem to do anything.
Lobo shows up and grabs the gunman, who wakes up strapped to a bed in the lab. Vornoff and Lobo are standing around him and staring, Vornoff looking stoned as always. Vornoff then turns on some lights - sorry, a machine while Tor sets a light above the man's head. I have no idea what this light is, but apparently it's required for the machine to work properly. Hurray for movies that refuse to explain how their universe works!
"You'll soon be as big as a giant; as strong as 50 men," Vornoff says to the man strapped to the bed. "Or like the others, you'll be dead." Vornoff flips a switch, and static electricity sounds over footage of lights flickering on and off intercut with some radar screen thingie and the man screaming. There really is no way to make sense of what's going on, just roll with it. The man dies, yet Vornoff doesn't look the least bit disappointed - just stoned as usual. Bela takes out his stethoscope and uses it on the man's chest, forehead, and hand. I had no idea those things were useful for measuring brain activity, thanks Ed Wood, you teach us something new with every movie you make.
Vornoff then looks into the aquarium and says something unintelligible. I guess Tor isn't the only one having trouble pronouncing words this time around. So far, this movie's not all that entertaining; it's boring. Don't worry though; it gets awesome by the end.
The movie cuts to newspapers saying crap like "Monster Strikes Again," and "Monster takes two." How would anyone know? Nobody witnessed their deaths - nobody's witnessed the monster and survived. As far as anyone else should be concerned, these two men are missing - maybe they just drowned or were eaten by an alligator in the swamp. There's also overly happy music playing while we see traffic stock footage.
Cops are interrogating some guy in an office. Question, why would you ever let a suspected criminal in your personal office? You have special interrogation rooms for that. For all you know he could have slipped some important documents into his pocket or something and is expecting a breakout later. Anyway, after the interrogation the cop threatens to expire a private eye's license and arrest him just because he won't hand him the newspaper - what a jerk. The young officer then goes to see who I think is the chief. This young guy simply cannot act. He instantly switches from overly enthusiastic to bland and expressionless so many times that I think I'm getting airsick. How? Watch the movie and you'll understand.
After the young cop leaves, there's a full minute of silence as the chief looks at the newspaper, then stands up and getting him bird some water. Pacing is very important in movies, and Ed Wood is the prime example on how to do it wrong.
The chief calls in another cop named Lt. Dick Craig, and they talk about Vornoff's place.
"12 disappearances around that place and nothing to go on," Craig says.
"Nothing this time either," the chief says. We get that already, and yet the newspapers said it was "the monster." Either these newspapers are psychic or these cops are completely brain-dead...maybe both.
The chief has the gun that was fired earlier, as well as the gunman's coat. They know the gun's been fired and that another man was found dead in the lake. A coat with a gun? Looks like this mad scientist is a bonehead as well, leaving evidence at the scene of a crime rather than burning the bodies and taking the weapons. Also if the gun was fired where the man disappeared and at least 12 people have disappeared in that area, then you should be sending in special squads by now, not talking about how there's a total lack of evidence. Maybe even bring in some animal control officers in case it's an alligator. Holy crap these cops suck.
A news reporter is allowed in the office and immediately complains that it's harder to get information at the station these days. She asks them about the monster and the two cops deny it. Oh, her name is Janet, and apparently she's Craig's fiancé.
"Now Janet," Craig says.
"Don't you now Janet me, and we can count our engagement off." What the frick? That's all it takes to end an engagement these days? Trying to settle down your fiancé reporter after she's asking about a monster when the cops doubt its existence?
Janet reminds the cops that 12 people have disappeared in 3 months, even though we just heard that one minute ago. Ed wood either thinks we have ridiculously short attention spans or he has short term memory loss. Janet argues that everything points to a monster. What? Just because 12 people disappear in three months it has to be a monster? What if it's a serial killer? Maybe it's that alligator I've mentioned several times now. With what little they know, it could be anything at this point. After getting nowhere in a pointlessly long conversation, Janet decides to check out the lake herself.
"Over my dead body," Craig says.
"That can be arranged," Janet says. Holy crap dude, not only is she threatening to break off your engagement just because you're trying to settle her down, but now she's giving you death threats? Why are you engaged to her in the first place?
Janet drives into an empty parking lot and into an office building to talk to some person in storage. She opens a file cabinet and looks at a newspaper. Really? A file cabinet? The office has ten or twelve randomly organized file cabinets scattered over the room. I've never been to a newspaper storage room, but I'm pretty sure that's not what they fricken look like. She walks out and talks to a friend/co-worker. So she's already seen two people in the building that had an empty parking lot? This movie makes no fricken sense.
Back at the police station, the chief and Craig are talking to an expert on prehistoric monsters about the Loch Ness Monster. They decide to investigate this "monster" in the swamp together. As Craig leaves, the chief tells him that Janet apparently left work with a headache.
"If she's gone to lake marsh alone I'll take her across my knee...if it's the last thing I do." What the crap was that? Take her across my knee? What does that even mean, and why did you randomly add "if it's the last thing I do?" The more Ed Wood I watch, the more sexist he appears. Thirdly, this cannot be a healthy relationship if all they do is hand death threats to each other all the time. How'd he propose to her? "Marry me or I'll chop you up and eat your spleen!" Honestly wouldn't surprise me at this point.
We cut to Janet driving through the forest in the rain. She somehow drives off the road and gets stuck on a slight hill. Ed Wood is so sexist that the female reporter doesn't even know how to put her car in reverse. Anyway, Janet sees a snake and faints. Lobo then shows up and grabs her hat, sniffs it, and puts it in his pocket. Why?
Janet wakes up in bed with Vornoff telling her she needs rest. That’s not creepy at all, is it? Waking up to some stoned old man telling you that you should rest? Yet somehow Janet’s OK with this. Vornoff waves around his hands and says sleep, which somehow puts her to sleep.
Two suited men are seen driving through the forest and talking about how they hate swamp duty. My guess is that they’re supposed to be cops, but one question still remains. Why are they wearing suits if it's supposed to be a swamp? Wouldn’t they be wearing swamp gear? And wouldn't they be driving in a jeep instead of a car? This is supposed to be in the 50's, jeeps existed back then.
"This swamp is a monument." What the frick does that mean? Anyway these two morons drive further into the forest and find Janet’s car just off the road. We then see the monster expert driving in the swamp alone. Why did he agree to look for the monster with the cop if he was going to drive in alone? Or better yet, WHY IS HE EVEN IN THIS MOVIE? He’s a European expert on the Loch Ness Monster, what does that have to do with anything that can be found in a North American swamp?
Janet wakes up again, now in Vornoff's lab. Vornoff and Lobo offer her food and coffee. Lobo slowly approaches the reporter in a rather creepy manner. Vornoff orders him out, but when Lobo ignores him, Vornoff takes out a whip and starts hitting the slave with it. Lobo screams and leaves after a minute of this poorly acted torture scene.
Vornoff and Janet talk for a bit, but it's pretty boring so let's move on. After the conversation Vornoff starts waving around his hands while making silly stoned expressions to make her fall asleep again. He then orders Lobo to take the girl to his quarters.
The monster expert shows up at Vornoff's place. He walks right into the house and starts looking around. There's a painting on the wall that's on more of an angle than the stair railings. As the expert wanders into the living room, Tor walks down the stairs and immediately starts walking very slowly toward the expert. Vornoff then pops in and they start talking. Apparently they used to be close friends.
Vornoff tells the expert that he was banned from his home country because he wanted to make a race of atomic supermen with great strength or something. This movie's already more than half way through and nothing's been happening. GET ON WITH IT!
The monster expert says that he's all set to bring Vornoff home, to which Vornoff says he has no home. He then talks more about his superman and what he wants from them.
"A race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world."
The monster expert agrees and suggests that they will help their government dominate the planet. Vornoff again states that he has no home and wants the world all to himself. The monster expert then pulls out a gun and points it at his old friend. Lobo grabs the expert from behind and they drag him into the lab. They open a door and throw him on top of the octopus prop, which just sits there as the expert stands up and screams away. He squirms on top of the prop and pretends to be under attack when the prop is clearly doing nothing. These octopus attack scenes are hilarious.
Back in the swamp, Craig and the young cop separate after they find the monster expert's car. We have two identical shots of the one cop putting on his jacket, showing Ed Wood’s immense skills at film editing. Craig then walks into the swamp and falls into a hole. Stock footage of an alligator is shown walking slowly toward the camera. So it was an alligator this whole time after all, wasn’t it. Didn’t I tell you to get that animal control officer on the line?
Craig pulls out his gun and fires. Oh wait, there’s no smoke or spark in his gun, so it’s just a loud noisemaker. The film keeps switching between Craig firing his noisemaker and the alligator stock footage. So eight bullets won't at least scare the reptilian off? Either this cop has really bad aim or this alligator has bulletproof skin. Either way, the cop escapes the hole and we never see the alligator again. It’s amazing how quickly stock footage can ruin the credibility of a suspenseful scene, not that this movie had any suspense to begin with. Also noteworthy is how the young cop didn’t provide any help here whatsoever despite the fact that he was at most fifty feet away. Why is this fruit cake a cop again?
Back at Vornoff's lab, Janet is now hypnotized by Vornoff's hands and is in his full control just like Lobo. She's also wearing a cheap looking wedding dress. Vornoff leads her into the same bed that killed the man near the start of the movie. Meanwhile, Craig has entered the house and starts looking around. Somehow Craig stumbles onto the switch that opens up the fireplace, which turns out to be the entrance to Vornoff’s lab.
Vornoff orders Lobo to strap Janet to the machine and starts whipping him again when he refuses. Awe, Lobo’s in love with the young woman; how unbelievably creepy. Janet wakes up after she’s strapped and handcuffed to the bed. She demands to be let go, and then Craig pops in with a gun and demands the same thing. Lobo shows up and knocks him out with one of his patented shoulder slaps. Ah, now this movie’s getting awesome, took long enough.
Finally, an actual cop car shows up in the swamp with four cops inside. They meet up with the young cop and the five of them head toward Vornoff's place. As the mad scientist starts up the machine, Lobo breaks free of Vornoff’s control and attacks him.
Vornoff takes out a gun opens fire at point black range, but doesn't even hit the monster – that’s what happens when you’re stoned moron! Lobo knocks out Vornoff and then lets Janet out of her straps. He touches her head gently. Lobo then turns on Vornoff again as Janet sets Craig free. Whatever happened to the pair wanting to kill each other?
Lobo straps Vornoff to the machine and activates it. This time, it successfully turns the mad scientist into an "atomic superman." Great job Lobo, you’re turning the man who enslaved and tortured you into Nuclear Man, brilliant!
"I gotta’ stop him," Craig says.
"But you can't." Janet says. Yes you can. Sure, the monster might be invulnerable to bullets, but you can still shoot and destroy the machine. That's what you did in Plan 9, right?
Craig attacks Lobo and they fight. Lobo slaps Craig several times in the shoulder and starts ripping apart his shirt. After knocking Craig out, Lobo goes right back to activating the machine. That's why you should have just destroyed the machine you stupid cop.
The rest of the cops arrive at Vornoff’s place and burst in. One cop briefly glances up the stairs before he enters the living room with the other. You can't simply clear the upper floor by looking up the stairs for one second. Who trained these cops, Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber?
Vornoff wakes up and breaks out of his straps and handcuffs – he’s an atomic superman now. He then fights Lobo and throws him through the door. The whole wall moves as Lobo falls through, proving that Ed Wood is the master of suspension of disbelief. Seriously though this scene is awesome. It shows incredibly stupid choreography and perfectly demonstrates how cheap the set really is. Vornoff destroys his own lab equipment to kill Lobo, just like in Plan 9’s conclusion, and this scene even has pyrotechnics - wow, Ed Wood's actually putting effort into the special effects.
The cops are still searching the living room when smoke starts coming out of the fireplace/lab entrance.
"Look the place is on fire! Let's get out of here before we get roasted." The cops outside before their rear ends catch on fire. They spot Vornoff walking through the swamp with Janet in his arms. How the frick did he get outside?
"What do you suppose that was?"
"Well, whatever it was, get it!" A man carrying a woman is so hard to properly identify, I’m so glad Ed Wood decided to point that out to us. It took a while, but the classic Ed Wood hilarity has arrived. Craig runs after Vornoff and spots his fellow officers.
"He's got Jan," He says. The rookie cop aims at Vornoff.
"No don't, you might hit Jan." Why is this rookie cop here? Craig then asks his partner for his gun. Why not ask the rookie for his instead; he's the one that's most likely to kill your fiancé. It would make more sense...just saying.
Vornoff then sets the reporter down and walks off. Several of the cops open fire on the atomic superman, who just walks while staring at them and waving his hands again. After a few more shots, he's somehow scared off. The main cop rolls a rock at Vornoff, which somehow knocks him into the octopus. Vornoff rolls around on the ground with the fake tentacles wrapped around him, and somehow this kills him. We then see stock footage of lightning, then an atomic explosion, and then the movie's over. I am so confused, so awesomely confused.
While the movie was boring at first, the payoff at the end was well worth it. Plan 9 From Outer Space is still more entertaining, but for those curious for more of Ed Wood’s bizarre filmmaking techniques, look no further than Bride of the Monster.
Two word review - stupidly awesome