Bizarre Frankenstein Movie Casts Rock Star As Evil Mad Scientist

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The Bride features rock star Sting as an evil version of Frankenstein, battling with his own creation for the titular character.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

For a story as incredibly specific and grotesque as an obsessive scientist flouting the laws of God and man to build a living creature out of corpses, only to have it backfire, Frankenstein managed to navigate through a lot of changes. There’s Universal Pictures’ famous take on Boris Karloff, the comedic version of Mel Brooks-Gene Wilder, this time he’s teamed up with Hugh Jackman to battle the villain of Red Mill!, and literally dozens more. However, one of the weirder versions cast rock star Sting as Baron Frankenstein and also decided he was a weird, horny villain: The bridewhich is currently streaming for free with ads on Tubi.

Even among the revisionist accounts of Frankenstein, The bride stands out as a particularly strange film. The 1985 film stars Sting (or Gordon Sumner, if you’re mean) as Baron Charles Frankenstein, who begins the film having already built his creature (the great actor Clancy Brown) and is now creating a companion for the nameless wretch. In Mary Shelley’s original novel, this happens about three quarters into the story, but The bride decides to make a nice change to the story: in this version, Baron Frankenstein falls in love with his flawless female creation (Jennifer Beals) and decides to keep her for himself.

The opening moments of the film see Baron Frankenstein bring the bride to life in a sequence that sees her wrapped like a mummy and suspended from the ceiling in a gauze web. Seeing her alive, Sting refuses to honor his deal with the creature and after a fight that destroys the lab, assumes his first creation is dead. However, the creature survives, teams up with fellow outcast Rinaldo the Dwarf (David Rappaport), and tries to make his way into the world as a circus performer.

As a movie, The bride seems unsure if he wants to be a feminist take on Frankenstein or just misanthropic. Directed by Franc Roddam and written by Lloyd Fonvielle, the film highlights how the Baron literally wants to create a “perfect” woman completely to his liking, except he can’t stand her having her own wants and desires. But while the Baron is undoubtedly a beacon of entitlement, nearly everyone the creature and Rinaldo encounter is as selfish, callous, and brutal towards the innocent as the Baron.

The bride both deviates wildly from the source material and somehow remains oddly true to the spirit of Frankenstein. While the novel asks Doctor Frankenstein to destroy the female creature after he is horrified that his creations could spawn a full-fledged race, The bride makes Baron Frankenstein fight with his creature for a pretty girl. Yet the conflict between creator and creation is central to the themes of the novel, is it really that different?

The bride posits Frankenstein as the overt villain of the story, an arrogant and violent aristocrat who has as much in common with the likes of King Joffrey of game of thrones as he does the guilt-ridden scientist in the novel. In 1985, Sting had just begun his acting career, notably in David Lynch’s famous adaptation of Dunes and is looking to expand his resume beyond being the frontman of one of the most famous bands in the world. Whether The bride gets something right, the casting of Sting to match his good looks and charisma as the imperious and haughty Frankenstein is spot on.

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Clancy Brown is also well cast as a creature, lending his hulking physical presence to a mostly wordless character. Brown had also just started her career in feature films and would go on to star in mountaineer the following year, then other future classics that required an intimidating presence like Starship Troopers and The Shawshank Redemption. For her part, Jennifer Beals caused a sensation in the film to resounding and critical success lightning dance and would go on to become a respected character actor.

The bride makes a number of strange changes to Frankenstein’s story, such as renaming Victor Frankenstein “Charles”, while the creature itself is eventually nicknamed Victor by Rinaldo. Unlike almost every other adaptation of the story, it also takes it for granted that no one mistakes the creature for a monster, just like a tall, slow-witted man. At the same time, it echoes previous versions of Frankenstein, with electricity animating the bride, the creature’s fear of fire, and a mob of angry villagers chasing the creature at one point.

The bride was a flop upon release, falling short of recouping its $13 million budget and being heavily panned by critics. While the three lead actors would go on to successful careers, it didn’t make any of them bigger stars than they already were. In a world filled with strange adaptations of Frankenstein, this is one of the weirdest, but unfortunately not one of the most successful.

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