It’s a Scream: Sting and Olivier fight. TO THE DEATH.

Oct 20th, 2005 | By | Category: Columns

As Halloween bears down swiftly upon us, I feel that it’s my responsibility to review a frightening movie, guaranteed to set your teeth on edge, keep you from sleeping, and make you think twice about being in the house alone.

My first contender was the 1985 classic Frankenstein morality play The Bride, if by “morality play” you mean “full of ugly costumes” and by “classic” you mean “starring Sting.” Because it does, on both counts. And, sad to say, that’s pretty much what makes it horrifying.

However! The true monsters are angel-faced, which meant I would have to look deeper to find a truly petrifying film. At last, I came across a movie so terrifying I couldn’t get through it in the dark, and had to come back when it was light out and Eileen lent me a bear to cuddle. It is Pride and Prejudice, made in 1940, starring Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, and the most frightening set of costumes I’ve ever seen, and I saw 200 Cigarettes, okay, so I’ve been in the trenches.


Between these two cheesefests, how could I choose only one, and leave the populace ignorant of the dangers of the other? I decided that with two such monsters on the loose, it was to everyone’s advantage to pit them against one another.


This is impossible, but sounds decisive, and that’s really all I’m worried about.

And now, ladies and gentlemen. Lock your doors, hide your children and your Members Only jackets.



Bride: Sting plays Dr. Frankenstein as a coked-out, mumbly sociopath. Upon creating the bride for his Monster, he figures out that she’s pretty hot (which apparently he didn’t notice the whole time he was stitching her rigored pieces together), and chases his monster away so he can woo the Bride himself.

Pride: Greer Garson plays the lovely and slightly snappish Elizabeth Bennet, and if they had actually set this in the Regency I think we would have had the most stunning Bennet ever. However, she spends most of the movie in a bonnet twice as big as her actual head, and people get distracted. Remember this: Greer Garson is hot, and she is a bitchface, and she is better than you.

Okay then!


Bride: The catalyst of the story is the lovely Bride, if by “lovely” you mean “Jennifer Beals.” Yes, the one with the leg warmers. Yes. And the welding. Yes. Why? What’s that?

Acting? Why should she act? She has a perm!

An accent? Why bother with accents when you’re just coming off a huge musical drama? What a feeling!

Pride: Laurence Olivier plays Darcy as a gay man. I say this as a fan of period pieces and a staunch supporter of the beta male: this is not the result of the costumes, or the scripts, or the particular manners. This is just flat-out friend of Dorothy. However, there is a similar quality to Sting’s and Olivier’s performances (there’s a single Google hit), namely that they both seem to have filled their boots with a little Bolivian marching powder.


Bride: Various old castles so generic that some extras from Anna Karenina wander through the background shots. You think I’m kidding.

Pride: Large, opulent house sets filled with women dressed in sleeves and skirts so wide they have to turn sideways to get through a door. You think I’m kidding.


Bride: The monster gets his ass kicked out of the Frankenstein mansion, runs away, and joins the circus. As he hauls his grotesque carcass around the countryside, Frakenstein begins the frightening process of raising a woman from the ground up.

Thunder. Lightning. Rain. Spooky music!

Pride: Lizzie and Darcy meet, hate each other, flirt, gossip about fashion, and fall in love at a dance. At one dance. You can scream; it’s okay.

Ruffles, bonnets, off-key singing. Bonnets. Weird, Zolofted line readings. Bonnets.

Seriously. You can’t believe the headgear on these girls.


Bride: Turns out the woman has a brain! Whoops! Also, she thinks cats are lions, because she’s a delightful innocent. Get it? How she and the sweet-hearted monster are clearly made for each other, even though ten minutes ago she was screaming about him? Remember any of that? No? Yeah, neither do I. I think I was drinking.

Jennifer Beals talks in a weirdly high register and grates on my nerves until I start skipping the glass and downing the vodka directly,

Sting mouths other people’s lines like it’s a high school production of Marvin’s Room.

Pride: Another twenty-minute scene; apparently, you couldn’t leave one location until everyone in the movie had a line in it. Also, this is the famous Pride and Prejudice garden party!

What? Oh.

Never mind. It’s the famous Greer-Garson Bitchface Hour, because the woman delivers the world’s most delightful stinkeye. Lord, is she gorgeous.


Bride: The monster makes his way home, just as Sting is about to date-rape his daughter/science project/social commentary. I am forced to give up my feminist card when he smacks her on the face and I cheer. (Dude, she’s awful. I’m sorry. It was worth the suspension. I held my own at the Body-Positive Low-Fat Bake Sale; I’ll get the card back soon. The joy of that cheer shall never leave me.)

The monster bursts in, burns Sting into little pieces, and finally gets Jennifer Beals to shut up by having a telepathic connection with her. Fine. Whatever. I’ll take it.

Pride: Well, Darcy proposes but Lizzie says no and goes home THE NEXT DAY and finds out Lydia has eloped, and by THE NEXT DAY Lydia is back and married. Everyone seems to think this is normal. It’s terrifying, truly terrifying.

Then Darcy proposes again (his heartfelt entreaty: “My dear Miss Bennett, be my beard?”), THE SAME DAY as Lydia returns home, after Lady Catherine “tests” Lizzie by making up a bunch of rules about land ownership that didn’t exist in Regency England, so clearly Lizzie fails, but a beard is a beard and they live happily ever after.


Not that it’s Lawrence’s first postmortem accolade, but I’m sure he’d be thrilled to know that his Mr. Darcy interpretation is so horrifying that it has taken precedence over a period piece starring Sting and Jennifer Beals.

(You can Google that, too. There’s nothing else.)



Genevieve is a prolific writer of speculative fiction living in New York, but you’ll never find her there because millions of people live there and Genevieve likes her privacy. Examples of her fiction can be found in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Federations, and numerous other magazines and anthologies. Her first novel is forthcoming in 2011. Also? She has terrible taste in movies.

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