While the original James Whale Frankenstein is iconic, and is full of moments that are memorable and stand the test of time, it's always felt like a prelude. Perhaps it's because the creature never developed as a character, and was so quickly disposed of by the classic angry mob. The sequel builds on just about every aspect of this and fits in perfectly as a second half to the story. It looks better, has more quirky bit parts, and gives the monster himself more to do. It never goes in for the parenthood idea from the original book which is a shame, so we are still left with the theme of a flawed creation acting out because of an imperfect brain. Mary Shelley herself makes a fun appearance in the recap, but her intelligent and more human creation never materialises. But this is still the best adaptation in many ways, and of course one of the best sequels.
Like the classic version of The Invisible Man, this adds all kinds of weird comic moments. The cast of eccentrics is bolstered by the inclusion of a new Burgomaster and the Frankenstein family's housekeeper amongst others. It's a shame that the father of the family is absent here, as he was a lot of fun in part one; but it's just the misfortune of having to write out characters when actors have passed away. Dwight Frye from the first film is back as a different shady lab assistant and even gets killed again, but since he's always so good in these horror features it's hard to complain.
A certain sense of humour carries through to other moments, though it doesn't detract from scenes which are purely tragic. The laughable attempts at arresting the creature who breaks out within seconds of being chained in the town prison are particularly amusing, and it's filled with touches that add to this tone. The creature takes on new vices in his journey, smoking cigars and drinking wine as he meets those few who are not violent towards him. It's an absurd image but it sticks out during the character driven moments. Of course one of these meetings is with someone without good intentions.
To further the plot we get Dr. Pretorius who basically pressures and blackmails Henry Frankenstein to furthering his work, and his own. He seems weaker after his past experiences even if the prospect of new research gets him fire up. The scene where Pretorius shows him his own research is very peculiar even for this series; a number of miniature people in glass jars who are dressed as medieval characters. It's kind of amusing but this is probably the one moment that doesn't fit the style of effects or the sci-fi tone of resurrecting the dead. Of course this is brief, and elsewhere things are taken from the original and amplified. The laboratory scenes in particular have been vastly improved with more extreme lighting, extreme close-ups, and extreme angles.
Considering the seconds of screen time the Bride herself is given, it's hard not to want more - particular when the bizarre look and the weird screeching are so memorable. Strangely the subsequent movies in this series do not resurrect her. It's probably the biggest unsatisfying moment here, even if the running time doesn't allow for much more. But it's still another iconic moment nonetheless and it's hard not to enjoy this overall; it's fun venture into the macabre and a superior second instalment.