The Beast Wants a Bride!
With the war ranging across the globe during the early 1940’s, Horror writers imagined a very human-like enemy in which our heroes would thwart. With World War 2 in our very hearts and minds, no one could possibly imagine an enemy more terrifying than humanity itself. Vampires, wolf-men, and mummies dominated the big screen. And alongside every big bad, was a beautiful damsel in distress, a Yin to the monsters Yang. For every Lon Chaney Jr. there was a Evelyn Ankers screaming away as the creature approved, fangs bared, dripping with anticipation of the kill.
As the 40’s slipped into the 50’s, horror began to evolve into a smorgasbord of new terrors. With the war ending in 1945, screen writers begun looking further a field for monsters to grace the silver screen. From giant tarantulas, leeches and beasts (from 20,000 fathoms), to Lagoon creatures and invaders from mars, the imagination exploded with many new concepts and creatures. Whilst our Dracula’s and werewolves were still present, horror had taken a new creative direction.
With horror evolving, one stable element that remained was the female lead. Every creature needed a scream queen to keep the audiences on their toes and horror was not about to disappoint. Screen writers begun to intertwine the heroin deeper into the stories, with one of the most common themes was the monster falling in love with the damsels-in-distress.
King Kong (1933)
When the giant ape grabbed Fay Wray way back in the 1930s, audiences were captivated. Here was this tiny beauty, caught in the grasp of a dangerous 100 foot gorilla. How on earth could this poor woman survive such an encounter? Screen writer James Ashmore Creelman knew just how, when he created the “beauty and the beast” angle of the film. Creelman announced loudly that neither size, nor species could impede the power of love, and what a love affair it was to be.
Before his capture. Kong’s only human interaction had previously been with the natives, to be more specific, with the woman strung up for him as a sacrifice. Wray’s Ann Darrow was a far cry from the dark haired and tanned skinned woman he had previously been presented with, and so it is that Kong finds himself in an instance infatuation with this new beauty from a far away land.
Kong’s love interest not only led his way his capture, escape and rampage of New York City, but it also sealed his fate as he climbed his way to the top of the Empire State Building, his “prize” grasped tight in his hand. As the film boldly says, as the planes shoot the creature off the top of the building, “No, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast”.
King Kong bucked all the current trends of the 1930’s and set a precedent in the monster movies. whilst it would take almost a decade for the flavour of monsters to settle on the palettes of cinema audiences, for a short whilst, Kong was King, and his reign is still felt today, as modern cinema still dips into the many tropes and story paths that Kong laid out, but none more so that this simple message, the Beast wants a Bride!
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Whilst King Kong dipped its toes into the ideas of duality, Frankenstein out-right made it it’s central theme, with Victor Frankenstein and his creation being a reflection of one another. It’s difficult to decipher which represent good and which represents evil, the man or the monster! To some degree both did bad and good, and the interpretation to which one is the real “Monster” is left very open! But it wasn’t duality that created one of the most loved Frankenstein films of the cinema history, it was the concept of desire.
When Universal Pictures decided to create a sequel to their 1931 hit based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the screen writers took to the novel for inspiration on how to continue the story. In the novel Frankenstein is forced to creates a mate for his creation, but destroys the body before it is brought to life, in fear that it too would be evil, and may even bare a plague (children) upon humanity. It was this plot that drove the 1935 sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, forward.
Whilst King Kong’s love affair was one of beauty, Frankenstein’s was one of desire and self-importance. The Monster demands a partner, because he feels that he deservers to be happy, selfishly presuming that the new creature will love him because they share a heritage (of sorts).
When the bride is brought to life, it rejects the Monster, screaming at his presence. In a fit or rage the Monster destroys the lab, along with himself and his new “Friend”! A selfish act that ends the legacy of Frankenstein’s Monster.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
In the 1950’s Universal Pictures were king of the Monster movies, and their next venture was to take a few pages from King Kong’s play book. Once again, a group of adventurers find themselves in strange lands, hunting a legendary creature. However, the Creature from the Black Lagoon looked a little closer to home than Kong’s Skull Island, with the Amazon being the location of the fabled Gill-Man.
The Films scream-queen came in the shape of Julie Adams, whose skimpy swim suits took the world by storm. Adams played Kay Lawrence a civilian taking part in an expedition to find the missing link between land and sea animals. The crew discover a living species that is highly volatile and kills many of the ships crew. Amongst the violence, the creature becomes obsessed with Kay’s beauty and abducts her, carrying he off to his cavern lair. A rescue attempts ends with the creature being riddle with bullets and sinking into the dark watery depths of the “black lagoon”. Once again, beauty killed the beast.
The late 70’s and early 80’s saw huge influx of swashbuckling sci-fi films, thanks mostly to the success of Star Wars. The 1983 film Krull emerged as one of the more successful films to follow in Star Wars shadow. The film follows a journey of Prince Colwyn and his group of outlaws to save future queen Princess Lyssa from the “Beast”. The Beast and his army of Slayers are conquerors from a distance galaxy. Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa plan to marry and form an alliance between their rival kingdoms in the hope that their combined forces can destroy the invading force. However, the Slayers attack before the wedding ceremony is completed and the princess is kidnapped.
In the land of Krull, the Beats literally wants a bride! In an interesting turn of events, the lizard like Beast tries to seduce the kidnapped Princess, after falling for her beauty and innocence. He promises her the universe if she marries him, and even transforms himself into the image of Prince Colwyn, to hide his true hideousness. But even this gesture is not enough to sway the young Princess from her true love!
Whilst this sub-plot is not important to the flow of the movie, it does humanise the Beast, even showing a vulnerable side to this black hearted warmonger. It seems that even universe conquering entities get a little lonely now and then.
The epic fantasy adventure film, Legend, had been a project that Ridley Scott had been kicking around for many years. He wanted to make a fairy tale film and conceived a story about a young hermit who is transformed into a hero when he battles the Darkness. The finished film ended up with many various cuts and even alternate soundtracks, but the plot remained the same, with Darkness attempting to end daylight forever. But a chance encounter with a young princess changes the fate of everyone.
Starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara and Tim Curry, the film was dark and brooding story about good vs and evil, which witted the hero Jack (Cruise) against the might of Darkness (Curry) with Princess Lili (Sara) being the catalyst and salvation of the films plot.
Much like the other entries on this list, Darkness’ Achilles’ heel is that of lust, as he himself attracted to the innocent young woman trying to save the world from an eternal night. In Krull, the Beats tried to turn the girl by becoming more like her, in appearance at least. But, here in Legend, Darkness tries to corrupt the Princess, turning her more like him. But like most the best laid plans of mice and men, Darkness fails to turn the girl, and it is his undoing.
The Fly (1986)
The last item on this list come from the imagination of David Cronenberg, and twist the “Beast Wants a Bride” trope into something terrifying and disturbing, in manor only fitting Cronenbergs body horror style. The 1986 remake of The Fly features Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis in a telling of Beauty and the Beast reversed, as an eccentric scientist starts to transform into a human/fly hybrid, when an experiment goes horrible wrong.
Seth Brundle (Goldlum) has created a teleportation system that would revolutionise the world, but in haste to further development, he experiments on himself, and fails to notice that a fly inside the telepod with him. Having not been programmed to deal with two subjects, the machine splices the genes together and Seth starts to mutate into Brundlefly.
Seth girlfriend, a science journalist called Veronica Quaife (Davis), can’t stand to watch him literally fall apart and leaves him to become the fly. But during their time apart, Seth discovers a way to become human again, by jumping in the pods with another human. With his mind and body succumbing to the fly, Seth is driven mad and drags Veronica kicking and screaming into the pod. But, like the other Beasts on this list, Seths “Marriage” to Veronica goes horrible wrong, and Seth is killed at the hands of the woman he loves.
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