Sometimes while watching a film, a scene will come along that makes you sit up and take notice, something that makes you think that what you're watching might deliver more than your expectations. Such is the scene in Bride of Frankenstein, when the deliciously villainous Dr. Pretorius (Ernst Thesiger) displays his jars of homegrown homunculi. It's a startlingly weird scene, disrupting what to that point had been a gothic horror that felt quite a bit like its predecessor.
To impress Victor Frankenstein, Pretorius pulls his own creations from a large case -- six jars containing miniature human beings. There's a king, a queen, a bishop, a devil, a ballerina, and a mermaid. The special effects are still remarkable, despite being seventy-five years old. John P. Fulton, who also created the effects for Universal's Invisible Man as well as many Hitchcock films, shot the actors in full-scale jars, placing their images over the smaller prop jars on the table. It's a blackly comic scene that holds up as creepy as it is funny, and it's the first moment you might begin to suspect that Bride of Frankenstein is not your typical mad science monster movie.
Pretorius gives a bizarre explanation to a noticeably uncomfortable Dr. Frankenstein, "While you were digging in your graves, piecing together dead tissues, I, my dear pupil, went for my material to the source of life -- I grew my creatures, like cultures. Grew them, like nature does. From seed."
You can watch the scene in its entirety here.