In the Hollywood version, Frankenstein's monster and his bride get married in a weird ceremony, but you're not expected to believe it because it's pure fantasy.
In the Arcadia version, it's the same freaky scene, and this time you have to believe it because it's real.
Richard Johnson and Maureen Albrecht exchanged marriage vows at a somewhat formal ceremony on Halloween, she in a lovely white gown, he in evening clothes, both with pins sticking out of their necks.
She was fashioned after Elsa Lanchester, who starred in the 1935 horror movie, "Bride of Frankenstein," complete with a white-streaked shock of upswept hair.
He took the role of the monster that Boris Karloff portrayed, although, in deference to the occasion, he waited until after the ceremony to don his Frankenstein mask, hands and feet.
"We just get a kick out of Halloween, like some people get turned on to Christmas," Johnson said. "For Maureen, this is fulfilling a lifetime fantasy. She always wanted to give the ultimate Halloween party."
She did. The bride, a forensic technician for the Orange County coroner and apparently blessed with natural gallows humor, rode to her wedding in a hearse. She was escorted by her brother, David Albrecht, dressed as a werewolf.
Mist of Vapors
They walked to the altar through a mist of vapors, past a miniature graveyard with cement headstones and past 140 costumed guests, as an organ thundered Bach's gloomy Toccata and Fugue. They walked past the reception room, where a casket held an ersatz corpse with a moving hand, and past a salad bar prettily arranged in another casket.
For a few minutes, it was straight wedding stuff. The Rev. Vahe H. Simonian reminded the assemblage that Halloween is a precursor to holy days and that marriage is serious business. The couple solemnly exchanged vows and were pronounced husband and wife to enthusiastic applause.
Meticulous planning, the key to all perfect weddings, was evident everywhere.
Programs, tied with black ribbons, were distributed. For their first dance, the pair danced to "Monster Mash." They cut an all-black wedding cake in the shape of a haunted house, topped by Frankenstein's monster and bride figurines.
Guests dined at black-clothed tables that had ceramic ghosts as centerpieces. Over their heads were dead branches draped with cobwebs produced by a cobweb machine and at their feet were mists created by a portable fogger.
The bride, 33, and bridegroom, a 49-year-old machinist, said they spent so much time and energy planning their wedding and reception that they'll have a delayed honeymoon. They live in Arcadia.
Assortment of Ghouls
Their guests included Henry VIII, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, a cardinal and a nun, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, a bare-legged flasher with hat pulled over his eyes and hands in the pockets of his long jacket, Vampira, Dracula, Snow White's wicked stepmother, Morticia, Sherlock Holmes and assorted Gypsies, werewolves and skeletons.
There was also Jim Craig, a teacher of Japanese swordsmanship. He was, he said, authentically dressed as Owishi Kuronosaki, "one of the 47 Ronin Samurai who went to take the head of the Lord Asano after Lord Asano had committed a wrong. This was in the Edo time, in the early 1600s." His face was painted by a Kabuki theater makeup artist.
There also were two Elviras, identical replicas of the well-known TV horror-movie hostess and eerily resembling each other, right down to identical sets of braces.
"Ginger Rogers" was introducing herself and some cronies to a spiked, chained and tattooed punkster by saying, "We are from the coroner's office. We'll be here any time you need us."
And then there was this nice guy with a natural ability to amuse and entertain people as they stood in the waiting line. He was swathed in black with a hood surrounding his gray face.
"Me?" he said modestly, "I'm just Death. No big deal."