Directed by: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Tony McCoy, Loretta King, Harvey B. Dunn, Dolores Fuller
Awarding three and a half stars to Bride of the Monster (1955) deserves some explanation, since by any rational critical approach, it's the sort of thing that ought to get one and half stars or maybe two on a good day. First of all, it's a film -- using the term rather loosely -- that exists in the nebulous realm of the "so bad it's good" category of cinema.
The very things that collectors of bad cinema prize it for are its shoddy sets (including a mad scientist lab that mostly consists of kitchen appliances up against a laughably painted backdrop), its looney tunes plot (mad scientist with pet octopus and hulking mute servant tries to create his own race of "atomic supermen"), its bad dialogue, its rampant use of stock footage, etc.. In other words, its failings are its virtues. And yet, it's also the closest director and co-writer Ed Wood ever came to making a good movie. By itself, that may not be saying much. Even taking his nonexistent budgets into account, there's no getting around the fact that Wood was simply magnificently untalented -- albeit in a glorious way.
However, the film is the last hurrah of horror master Bela Lugosi -- who at 73 and addicted to both morphine and Scotch, still gives the film everything he's got. And it's almost enough to make you forget all the things the movie hasn't got ... almost. He has one last great moment -- the famous "I have no home" speech that is justly celebrated in Tim Burton's Ed Wood -- when it's impossible not to realize you're in the presence of one of the giants of film. For this -- and for the casual insanity of the rest -- it's a kind of classic.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke