Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Bad Movie Month Presents Bride of the Atom,er,Monster!

Bride of the Atom was the original title of this Ed Wood"film"(with Ed Wood,it's best to use qoute marks when referring to his work,trust me)which actually did spawn a sequel entitled Night of the Ghouls that wasn't released for the longest time. BOTM stars Bela Lugosi as mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff,who along with mute thug assistant Lobo(played by wrestling star Tor Johnson who certainly had as much onscreen charisma as Kane does)are conducting a series of experiments in the "Old Willow's Place". Reporter Janet Lawton(Loretta King)goes off on a Lois Lane trip to find out about why folks keep disappearing and if the stories about a local monster are true. Of course,she needs rescuing from her cop boyfriend who's also on the look out for Professor Strowski who is seeking Vornoff himself.

Ed Wood was a big fan of stock footage to pad his movies and it's fully on display in BOTM as characters are menaced by creatures that are nowhere near enough to be an actual threat. One of the funniest bits has Janet cowering in fear from a snake only to be saved by Lobo,who knocks a real Woolworth's ten cent special rubber snake off of a prop tree. Another scene has the hero cop falling into quicksand(which he sort of walks into)that looks like a big leafy pit,shooting wildly in the direction of a rather distant alligator.

The movie is best known as Bela Lugosi's last speaking appearance in film(the clips of him in the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space have no dialogue)and as those of you who watched Tim Burton's Ed Wood(a good movie about making bad ones),this speech is one of the highlights of his performance:

Lugosi was not even considered a blip on the Hollywood radar when he did this and unfortunately,had a nasty morphine addiction to boot. Even so,you can catch a glimpse of what made him famous despite the fact that he was wired to the gills here.Martin Landau's portrayal of Bela is the best tribute to Lugosi's legacy that I can think of:

Even if you've seen Ed Wood,don't assume that's all there is to BOTM. There are plenty of strange bits that make it quite the unique little roadshow. There's the chief of police who goes around with a parakeet on his shoulder(at one point,the bird is dangling off of his eyeglasses!),our hero cop who spends a good portion of the climax,wearing ripped up remnants of his shirt ala Puffy Seinfeld Shirt and the non moving killer octopus,a prop that didn't work so the actors had to pretend to be fighting with it. Even poor Bela was not spared the indignity of rolling around in cold water while wrapping fake octopus limbs about him.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 covered Bride of the Monster but it has yet to be given a DVD release either in a box set or on it's own so far(you can catch clips of it on YouTube). The movie itself is available on the DVD market so if you want to see"The screen's master of the WEIRD...IN HIS NEWEST and MOST DARING SHOCKER!"for yourself,just saying "It's only a bad movie,it's only a bad movie...."


PJS said...

I'm confused by the last paragraph, is it available on DVD or no? Because I'm intrigued...

lady t said...

Sorry,I just ment that the MST3K version is not on DVD. BOTM is available in it's original awful edition. My copy was included in the Ed Wood box set I bought awhile back but I'm sure you can get it separately.

Btw,I'm open to suggestions on other cinematic monstrosities to highlight this month so,please feel free!