Bride of the Monster (1956)

67-68 mins | Science fiction | February 1956

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HISTORY

The working title of this film, Bride of the Atom , was also the name under which it was reviewed by Var and DV . The film's opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order. Actor Don Nagel's surname is misspelled "Nagle" in the opening credits, but is spelled correctly in the end credits. Modern sources report that co-screenwriter Alex Gordon's original script was called The Atomic Monster , and that the picture was to be filmed in 1953 but was abandoned due to lack of financing. In a modern interview, Gordon stated that Wood completely rewrote the script, retaining only the idea of an “atomic monster,” then retitled it Bride of the Atom .
       According to HR and DV news items, the film began production on 26 Oct 1954 at Ted Allan Studios but was shut down for "construction of sets" a few days later. Production briefly resumed in early Nov 1954 at KTTV Studios, but soon stalled again. A 2 Nov 1954 HR news item reported that Lyman C. Abbott had “taken over” as executive producer, and that Nagel was to be the associate producer, but neither is credited onscreen. In Oct and Nov 1954 HR news items, the film’s production company is listed as Catacomb Pictures.
       Although some HR news items indicated that writer-director-producer Edward D. Wood, Jr. was to begin work on The Vampire's Tomb , to star Bela Lugosi and Loretta King, after the shutdown of Bride of the Monster , The Vampire's Tomb was never ... More Less

The working title of this film, Bride of the Atom , was also the name under which it was reviewed by Var and DV . The film's opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order. Actor Don Nagel's surname is misspelled "Nagle" in the opening credits, but is spelled correctly in the end credits. Modern sources report that co-screenwriter Alex Gordon's original script was called The Atomic Monster , and that the picture was to be filmed in 1953 but was abandoned due to lack of financing. In a modern interview, Gordon stated that Wood completely rewrote the script, retaining only the idea of an “atomic monster,” then retitled it Bride of the Atom .
       According to HR and DV news items, the film began production on 26 Oct 1954 at Ted Allan Studios but was shut down for "construction of sets" a few days later. Production briefly resumed in early Nov 1954 at KTTV Studios, but soon stalled again. A 2 Nov 1954 HR news item reported that Lyman C. Abbott had “taken over” as executive producer, and that Nagel was to be the associate producer, but neither is credited onscreen. In Oct and Nov 1954 HR news items, the film’s production company is listed as Catacomb Pictures.
       Although some HR news items indicated that writer-director-producer Edward D. Wood, Jr. was to begin work on The Vampire's Tomb , to star Bela Lugosi and Loretta King, after the shutdown of Bride of the Monster , The Vampire's Tomb was never completed. Footage from the abandoned The Vampire's Tomb was included, however, in the 1959 release Plan 9 from Outer Space (see below).
       Filming on Bride of the Monster resumed in Mar 1955 at Centaur Studio. Modern sources state that some sequences were shot on location in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. According to an 11 Mar 1955 DV news item, "new financing has been provided by Packing Service Corp., headed by southern rancher D[onald] E. McCoy, whose son, Tony McCoy, in addition to appearing in [the] film, is taking over production reins." According to a modern source, in exchange for providing funding for the film, Donald McCoy demanded that the title be changed to The Monster of the Marshes [which did not happen], that an atomic bomb explode at the conclusion [which does happen when the octopus monster is struck by lightning] and that he and his son be given producing credits, with Wood relinquishing all rights to the film.
       Although HR production charts include Buck Kartalian, Conrad Brooks and Al Shapiro in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. A 14 Apr 1955 HR news item noted that Wood was accepted into the Screen Directors' Guild because of his work on the picture. The DV review of the film noted that at the time of its production, the film did not have a distributor set, and commented: “the only conceivable reason for production is the Bela Lugosi name in the horror market.”
       As reported by a 3 May 1955 DV news item, the film's 11 May 1955 Hollywood premiere was a benefit for the ailing Lugosi, with all the proceeds to be put into a trust fund for him. According to modern sources, the premiere was a failure, raising only $1,000. In Apr 1955, Lugosi had voluntarily committed himself to a sanitarium in order to combat his addictions to narcotics and alcohol. Many modern sources comment on Lugosi’s identification with the role of “Dr. Eric Vornoff,” especially during the long, emotional monologue in which he rails against having been exiled from his home and being hounded throughout the world. Although Lugosi acted in the 1956 film The Black Sleep (see above), his role was as a mute. The footage of Lugosi in Plan 9 from Outer Space was silent, thus Bride of the Monster marked his last speaking role. Lugosi died on 16 Aug 1956.
       Bride of the Monster marked the first onscreen credit for associate producer and actor Tony McCoy, who had previously appeared in a small role in The Bamboo Prison (see above). Loretta King made her feature film debut in Bride of the Monster . The character "Kelton," played by Paul Marco, appeared again in both Plan 9 from Outer Space and Night of the Ghouls , and "Lobo," played by Tor Johnson, was also featured in the latter film. According to modern sources, the giant octopus created by Vornoff was actually a huge rubber model appropriated from Republic Studios for filming. The model had been used in the 1948 Republic picture Wake of the Red Witch (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ), but because Wood forgot to take the motor that propelled the model, the actors were forced to grab its tentacles and wrap them around themselves while pretending to struggle with the monster. Modern sources add Ray Erlenborn ( Sd eff ), Art Maniken ( Cam grip ) and Eddie Parker ( Double for Lugosi ) to the crew. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Mar 1955.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 1955.
---
Daily Variety
13 May 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1954
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 1954
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 1954
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1955
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1955
p. 6.
LAMirror-News
26 Jan 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Sep 56
p. 50.
Variety
1 Jun 55
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story and scr
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Cam op
Electrician
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Bride of the Atom
Release Date:
February 1956
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Hollywood, CA: 11 May 1955
Production Date:
26 October--early November 1954 at Ted Allan Studios and KTTV Studios
mid March 1955 at Centaur Studio
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses/Prints
Film processing by Consolidated Film Industries
Duration(in mins):
67-68
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One night, hunters Lafe “Mac” McRae and Jake wander around Marsh Lake despite a brewing storm. The friends comment on the eerie storms, which began three months previously and have occurred every night since, and decide to take shelter in the abandoned Willows home. Mac is afraid, because it was rumored that a monster was responsible for several recent disappearances, but Jake urges him on. At the old mansion, they are turned away by a mysterious man and his enormous, mute servant, Lobo. Fearing that Lobo is the monster, Mac and Jake run, while the man, Dr. Eric Vornoff, laughs about their misconception. In his secret laboratory, Vornoff frees the real monster, a giant octopus that he has created with radioactivity, from its underground water tank. The monster swims to the surface and kills Mac while Lobo captures Jake, upon whom Vornoff experiments. Vornoff is hoping to create a race of super beings, but the atomic ray to which he subjects Jake proves too powerful and he dies, as did the other men whom Vornoff kidnapped. The next morning, police captain Tom Robbins and Lt. Dick Craig discuss the disappearances, which the local newspapers have blamed on the supposed monster. Robbins and Dick are both sick of the monster story, which was the creation of Dick’s reporter fiancée, Janet Lawton. As they are discussing the case, the policemen are interrupted by Janet, who bursts into Robbins' office and demands that they answer her questions. Robbins reminds Janet that facts, rather than sensationalistic speculation, will solve the case, but after she accuses him of withholding evidence, she announces ... +


One night, hunters Lafe “Mac” McRae and Jake wander around Marsh Lake despite a brewing storm. The friends comment on the eerie storms, which began three months previously and have occurred every night since, and decide to take shelter in the abandoned Willows home. Mac is afraid, because it was rumored that a monster was responsible for several recent disappearances, but Jake urges him on. At the old mansion, they are turned away by a mysterious man and his enormous, mute servant, Lobo. Fearing that Lobo is the monster, Mac and Jake run, while the man, Dr. Eric Vornoff, laughs about their misconception. In his secret laboratory, Vornoff frees the real monster, a giant octopus that he has created with radioactivity, from its underground water tank. The monster swims to the surface and kills Mac while Lobo captures Jake, upon whom Vornoff experiments. Vornoff is hoping to create a race of super beings, but the atomic ray to which he subjects Jake proves too powerful and he dies, as did the other men whom Vornoff kidnapped. The next morning, police captain Tom Robbins and Lt. Dick Craig discuss the disappearances, which the local newspapers have blamed on the supposed monster. Robbins and Dick are both sick of the monster story, which was the creation of Dick’s reporter fiancée, Janet Lawton. As they are discussing the case, the policemen are interrupted by Janet, who bursts into Robbins' office and demands that they answer her questions. Robbins reminds Janet that facts, rather than sensationalistic speculation, will solve the case, but after she accuses him of withholding evidence, she announces her determination to explore Marsh Lake herself. Janet then goes to the “paper morgue” of her newspaper and asks clerk Tillie to help her find the sales records for the old Willows home. While Janet continues to investigate, Robbins introduces Dick to Professor Vladimir Strowski, an Eastern European scientist who specializes in prehistoric monsters. Hoping to uncover evidence of a beast similar to the Loch Ness Monster in Marsh Lake, Strowski agrees to go to the lake with Dick in the morning. Meanwhile, as Janet drives into the forest surrounding the lake, her car gets stuck. After abandoning the vehicle, Janet is scared by a large snake and faints. While Janet is unconscious, she is carried by Lobo to Vornoff’s house, and when she awakens, the scientist assures her that all is well, then puts her into a hypnotic trance. The following morning, Dick and his partner, Martin, arrive at the forest to meet Strowski and find Janet’s car. While Dick and Marty drive back to a nearby coffee shop in the hope that Janet had walked there, Strowski arrives and begins to search the forest. At Vornoff’s lab, Janet awakens and is instructed by Vornoff not to be dismayed by her surroundings, explaining that the hulking Lobo is harmless. Lobo has become fascinated by Janet, however, and Vornoff has to whip him to force him to leave the room. After Lobo exits, Janet reveals her knowledge that Vornoff quietly bought the Willows home several years earlier. Rather than answer her questions about the monster, Vornoff again hypnotizes her, then goes upstairs to his library. There, Vornoff finds Strowski as he sneaks into the house. Vornoff is bemused to see Strowski, who is actually his former colleague. Strowski admits that he has been following Vornoff’s experiments in atomic energy as he traveled the world, and asks him to return to their home country, which now wants to sponsor his work. Vornoff laughs bitterly, as their government had exiled him twenty years earlier because of his spectacular theories. Vornoff expounds on his plan to build his own army of “atomic superpeople” with which to take over the world, then orders Lobo to feed Strowski to the octopus. Meanwhile, Dick and Marty return to Marsh Lake and separate after discovering Strowski’s car. In the laboratory, Vornoff prepares his machines to experiment on Janet, who, still in a trance, is now dressed in a wedding gown. Calling her “the bride of the atom,” Vornoff wakes up Janet and tells her that he intends to give her super strength and beauty with his machinery. Upstairs, Lobo finds Dick, who has crept into the house, and knocks him out. Meanwhile, Robbins, along with Marty, rookie policeman Kelton and several others, begins combing the area. When Dick awakens, he finds himself chained to a wall in the laboratory, where he will be forced to watch the experiment on Janet. Unable to hurt Janet, Lobo attacks Vornoff and frees Janet, who then releases Dick. Lobo straps Vornoff onto the table and turns on the machines but then turns them off when Vornoff screams in pain. Upon recovering, Vornoff discovers that the atomic ray has worked and that he now possesses super strength. Freeing himself from the straps, Vornoff fights with Lobo, who is electrocuted when he falls against the machinery. Vornoff then grabs Janet and flees from Robbins’ men, who have surrounded the house. As the men pursue Vornoff, a bolt of lightning, brought on by the machinery, strikes the house and destroys it. After Vornoff puts Janet down, Dick knocks him into the swamp with a boulder, and the octopus devours its creator. The monster itself is destroyed by another bolt of lightning, and as they watch the resulting mushroom cloud, Robbins tells Dick and Janet that Vornoff deserved his fate because he “tampered in God’s domain.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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