|Bride of Frankenstein
Bringing a classic icon to life
The classic Universal monsters are still much-loved icons of vintage horror cinema, I'm pleased to say. Although there may be a few cringe-inducing moments of excessive theatrical melodrama, the early horror flicks depicting Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and of course the Bride of Frankenstein are still great to watch. I recently re-watched The Bride of Frankenstein as preparation for this photo shoot and was amazed by just how beautifully lit the scenes were, mesmerisingly so in some places. The Bride herself, played by Elsa Lanchester, remains something of a fascination. Her startled, expressive eyes and those quick bird-like head movements gives the Bride a peculiarity of character. But her most obvious asset is of course that hair! A wild shock of electrified locks that stand upright, embellished by the white streak of hair that resembles an electric bolt rising from her temple.
This shoot had been lingering around somewhere in the back of my mind for some time. The hair had always put me off so I just didn't bother. I'm pretty fussy about my shoots, and if the hair wasn't right then I wouldn't be happy, so I just figured I'd never do this, or "maybe one day"…
Then I met Georgia, a young model who answered a casting call for a vampire shoot. At the shoot, she set her hair into a large, strange bun which rose from her head, and I did the vampire shoot with her, which was great. As I was shooting, I kept thinking about her hair, and it struck me that I was looking right at my Bride. But not only was her hair suitable, so was she herself, with a face that suited this role perfectly, and even a demeanour that seemed to fit (and I mean that in a nice way). So naturally, we booked a second shoot and the Bride was brought to life.
My wife Claire assisted with the hair, which wasn't easy. Trust me, if you are planning to do a Bride shoot then brace yourself for a long, complex hair job! But between them, Georgia and Claire did a truly wonderful job. I was busy applying body paint and bandages. As I was getting ready I stumbled across some lightweight plastic bolts which I glued to the sides of her neck. They were white so I had to quickly make them silver. I had not planned to use neck-bolts but when I found them, quite by accident, I just had to use them!
It was important to use flattering lighting on this shoot, which was set up to mimic vintage Hollywood beauty. However I didn't want a full-on beauty shoot (after all, I'm a horror photographer) so I used no fill light and let harsh shadows cause interesting contrasts. The results were quite pleasing.
But this is Horrify Me and so a bucket of blood and gore wasn't too far away. The final scenes of the shoot involved pulling the Bride's chest open to reveal ribs and guts, with a few silver surgical tools laying around. I made no reference to whether the Bride was being assembled, repaired or destroyed. I just wanted a few cool gory shots in there. After all, a similar scene would have actually happened somewhere in the narrative of the classic film, even though we never got to see it. It was fun to imagine this scene and bring it to life.
The final stage was to edit these for a great black and white finish. I've shown them on the Horrify Me gallery in both colour and black and white, which really involved different editing processes. I'm happy with the colour ones, but those black and white shots? Woah!
Thanks for reading folks. Keep loving horror :)