Here Comes the Bride

Forget those damned blade wielding misfits from today’s mindless slasher films, real horror films need a monster and after Lugosi and Chris Lee’s vampires, never was there a better monster than Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein who was fleshed out with speaking parts in James Whale’s still brilliant Bride of Frankenstein, the only one of the great Universal horror films to transcend its genre with comedy, allusions to WWI, and yes, if you must, possible nods for and/or against homosexuality and religion. The 1998 film Gods and Monsters is a clever exploration of Whale’s bio and all the film’s background threads. Although black and white, the original film is gorgeous to look at and is full of still potent cinematic bits such as the “life” that Dr. Pretorius grows in jars!

Along with the film’s many readily identifiable touchstones—Elsa Lanchester’s striped, high rise, Nefertiti doo, all Ken Strickfaden’s great sparking and banging lab gear (which Mel Brooks later used and finally credited Strickfaden for in Young Frankenstein), and Ernest Thesinger’s supremely creepy portrayal of Dr. Pretorius—there’s the great Franz Waxman’s score which has recently been released on LP for the very first time by European reissue label Music on Vinyl. Ironically, the film was nominated for only one Academy Award, Best Sound Recording, and yet Waxman always lamented that many of his score’s highlights were obscured by sound effects. But even with those distractions, the 75 minute long Bride is a classic example of how important great film scores can be to the film’s impact. What would the climactic scene where the Monster sees the Bride for the first time be without Waxman’s ringing chimes. From there the musical highlights are many: A single drum beating like a human heart, gongs and vibraphones, gossamer, winged, washes of melody played only on violins, and of course, harp glissandos. Most of the cues in the score use whole tone scales rather than the more common diatonic scales, to give it a more otherworldly feel. The three distinct motifs Waxman created for the main characters—a menacing trumpet figure for the monster, a childlike melody for the Bride and the quirky Pretorius number—are simple but unforgettable.

Music on Vinyl which for its masters, uses original master tapes if it can get them, mostly from American labels, or failing that digital copies, has pressed this release in heavyweight 180 gram yellow/orange swirled vinyl and added a facsimile of the original movie poster backed with new liner notes. While I found the LP pressing a bit noisy, it’s much superior to a CD version I once owned.

hollowman's picture

Waxman did many such lyrical, creative and engaging scores ... several, such as a personal fave "Sorry, Wrong Number" (1948), are not avail. on any format.
Other than the original score, carefully-arranged modern re-recordings can often be better than the orig film soundtrack recording (reasons for this include: better, more-modern engineering; no time pressure to rush out the recording for film release; etc.)
Good examples of re-recording include Bernard Hermann -- Psycho [1996, Joel McNeely conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra] and Star Trek (original tv series; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 1985/6 re-recording).
For the Star Trek, they are digital recordings orig released on VINYL in mid 80's...