It is a dark and stormy night and two travellers are caught in the downpour. The only shelter nearby is the Willow place, an apparently abandoned old dark house, but when they reach its door, they are greeted by the sight of Dr Eric Vornoff (Bela Lugosi) who refuses to let them in, and employs his lumbering henchman Lobo (Tor Johnson) to scare them away. They run past the lake, only for a huge octopus released by Vornoff to grab one of them and drag them down into the depths as the other fires his rifle at it to no avail. He is then captured by Vornoff and becomes part of the mad doctor's crazed experiments - experiments to create a race of supermen by harnessing the power of atomic energy.
Unfortunately for the doctor, his tests and trials have amounted to nothing so far, but what would you expect from a film written (with Alex Gordon) and directed by the man proclaimed as the worst director of all time, Edward D. Wood Jr? Not as celebrated as his magnum opus Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bride of the Monster, also known as Bride of the Atom, nevertheless has much to recommend it to bad movie fans, with Wood's trademarks of his budget never matching up to his imagination, that imagination never coming up with believable situations or dialogue, and a cast of eager amateurs - excepting Lugosi, of course, who is as professional as ever, really putting his all into a project that didn't deserve such enthusiasm.
And as ever, it's all endearingly ridiculous. For some reason, the police don't seem to be taking much interest in the steady stream of disappearing people out near the lake, but the newspapers are, trumpeting that a monster has struck again. The journalist behind those headlines is Janet Lawton (Loretta King), who just happens to be the girlfriend of Lieutenant Dick Craig (Tony McCoy) but their argumentative scenes together suggest a relationship on the rocks, or perhaps this is Wood's idea of snappy wordplay. Whatever, the police aren't going to investigate any monster rumours, so Janet has to go out there herself. The police captain, you can't help but notice, has a pet parakeet sitting on his shoulder, although nobody remarks on it - the actor was a children's entertainer and the bird was part of his act: the savvy Wood obviously couldn't break up such a great team.
Anyway, Janet does a little digging about the old Willow place and heads out there, but her car gets a flat tyre in the middle of the forest and she crashes into a tree. Climbing out, all her steely attitude evaporates when she is confronted with a rubber snake hanging from a tree and faints; but who should wander along at that moment but Lobo, who makes straight for her angora wool hat, whips it off and kisses it, stuffing the object in his pocket for later. Yes, this is an Ed Wood film alright. Lugosi has been offscreen for too long by this point, but he reappears when Lobo carries Janet back to the lab and the doctor tends to her by regularly hypnotising her with inimitable Lugosi hand gestures and big closeups of his eyes. Whatever could he have in mind for her?
The lady reporter is not the only one snooping around, as a professor from Vornoff's old country arrives to persuade him to return at gunpoint. It's here you'll notice a definite pattern emerging, as whenever anyone threatens Vornoff loyal Lobo looms up in the background and saves him, and so the professor is fed to the octopus which is noticeably inert for much of its screen time. And don't octopi live in sea water, giant or otherwise? Meanwhile, the police and Dick - and recurring Wood character Kelton the cop (Paul Marco) - are hot on Janet's trail, the consequence of which is the slowest moving climax in science fiction history as Vornoff is hoist to his own petard, strapped under a photographic enlarger - sorry, atomic ray machine - and enhanced with superhuman strength. Or at least his stuntman is. Winningly ludicrous, Bride of the Monster is everything you could wish for if you enjoy making fun of creaky sci-fi movies: Wood was already setting the standard. Music by Frank Worth.
Wood's career opportunities got worse as he drifted into writing softcore porn like Orgy of the Dead, and he eventually became an alcoholic. Sadly, he died just before receiving the peculiar adulation his eccentric movies deserved. Also the author of many pulp novels.