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Local Event: ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’

It’s Horrible Imaginings’ Valentine’s Day Massacre

Elsa Lancaster and Boris Karloff in James Whale's

Credit: Universal Pictures

Above: Elsa Lancaster and Boris Karloff in James Whale's "The Bride of Frankenstein."

I'm not a fan of romantic movies and as you might guess not big on Valentine's Day. However, Horrible Imaginings has the perfect Valentine's program: "The Bride of Frankenstein" (February 12 at 7pm at the Tenth Avenue Theater). Now that's romance!

James Whale's "Frankenstein" and its follow up "The Bride of Frankenstein" are two of the most beautiful horror films of all time. When I asked Guillermo Del Toro what film he was thankful for he said, "I am very thankful for James Whale’s 'Frankenstein' (with Boris Karloff as the monster) because I believe that it is one of the most beautifully articulate ways of saying how we are thrown into this world by a creator that does not care for us, and how we have to find our way in it."

Whale's films also created sympathy for the monster in ways that had not been done before on film. In "The Bride of Frankenstein" how can you not feel compassion for Karloff's monster that is rejected by his bride (exquisitely played by Elsa Lancaster)? The film is one of the best horror romances of all time and this program could have only been made better by pairing the film with one of my other favorite romances "King Kong" from 1933 or Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et la Bete."

Horrible Imaginings organizer Miguel Rodriguez wants to bring more horror to San Diego. He has a podcast called Monster Island Resort where he speaks lovingly of everything from Godzilla to horror hosts to Frankenstein. But he's also trying to bring classic and indie horror to the big screen in San Diego with a horror festival and special events. He began pursuing this goal in November of last year with a day-long horror film festival and art show. Then he followed it up with a Christmas Splatterganza. His events have a fun vibe but Rodriguez is also very serious about his horror. He wants people to be entertained by his programs but he also wants to elevate the conversation we have about horror.

Clip: 'The Bride of Frankenstein'

Clip from James Whale's "The Bride of Frankenstein"

In taking about "The Bride of Frankenstein," he says, "Whale’s affection for his monsters and Karloff’s ability to bring empathy to a reanimated corpse goes beyond Mary Shelley’s technophobic warning against 'playing God.' Whale and Karloff created an inverse Christ figure, an indictment of the mob-mentality and cruelty of good people, and most importantly they have shown how the overwhelming need for companionship is rooted more deeply than we imagine."

Yep, you can find all that and more in "The Bride of Frankenstein" -- if you are willing to look beyond its genre trapping to see the depth of emotion Whale invests in his characters.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Mike Salva

Mike Salva's "Back to Life"

But Rodriguez also likes to find humor in horror, which is why he will be including the hilarious animated short "Back to Life" on the bill. Created by Mike Salva, "Back to Life" ponders what might happen if you reanimate a corpse and he's none too happy about it. The clever short gives a spin to the Frankenstein tale and its notion of romance.

Another comic-horror-romance on the program is David Reda's bloody Valentine to slasher love, "The Horror of Our Love." He considers what if a Jason or a Freddy fell for you and began stalking you? It's wicked fun.

Rounding out the night's program is Elisabeth Fies' "Psychosexual" and a teaser for another romantic horror tale, Anne Norda's "Stop! I'm Not Dead Yet."

I hope you will join me for this most divine Valentine's Day selection of films.

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