The most surprising thing about Bride Of Re-Animator is how long it took for this sequel to happen. The original Re-Animator was an instant cult situation and its director, Stuart Gordon, was cranking out films by the fistful for Charles Band during the second half of the ’80s. However, it took four years for Bride Of Re-Animator to make it to screen and when it did it was helmed by Re-Animator‘s producer, Brian Yuzna. Though it features the key leads of its predecessor and just as much gore, the results are noticeably different from the original film.
Bride Of Re-Animator follows the continuing misadventures of Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott). After a spell hiding out in Central America, they return to Miskatonic Hospital and somehow get medical jobs. Of course, West is determined to continue his experiments in life after death but the process is complicated by nosy cop Lt. Chapman (Claude Earl Jones) and Francesca (Fabiana Udenio), a budding love interest for Dan.
Herbert gets the experiment he was hoping for when he cons Dan into using the body of terminal cancer patient Gloria (Kathleen Kinmont) as the basis for a Frankenstein-ian experiment. However, they also have to face off with the revived head of Dr. Hill (David Gale), who is determined to settle the score with West.
Despite its status as a direct sequel, Bride Of Re-Animator feels like a completely different film when compared to Re-Animator. For starters, the script, penned by Yuzna with Rick Fry and Woody Keith, is a poorly-constructed affair riddled with plotholes and bizarre logic in its storyline and character behavior. It feels like the writers came up with a batch of setpieces and gore gags they wanted to do and then hastily rigged a plotline around them. More importantly, it sidesteps the transgressive flair and darkly clever wit of Re-Animator in favor of a schizoid tone that tries to mix tragic drama with the horror movie equivalent of slob-comedy slapstick.
Thus, one should not expect another masterpiece out of Bride Of Re-Animator. That said, gorehounds nostalgic for the splatter movies of the ’80s will find plenty to enjoy here. The film frequently confuses being gross with being intense but it does supply an amazing barrage of gore FX by a dream team that includes Screaming Mad George, KNB-EFX and even some David Allen stop motion animation. The film also has a game cast: Combs is always fun to watch, Abbott brings a surprising level of emotion to an underwritten role and Kinmont goes all-out as an intriguing feminine riff on Frankenstein’s monster. Yuzna gives the film a suitable slickness despite the storyline’s flimsiness, including an action-packed final act.
In short, Bride Of Re-Animator isn’t the high-caliber follow-up fans of Re-Animator wanted but hardcore ’80s horror buffs might find it to be an interesting relic of the era.
Blu-Ray Notes: Arrow Video has reissued this title in high-def form on both sides of the Atlantic via a new 2 blu-ray/ 1 DVD combo set. The unrated and R-rated versions of the film get their own separate blu-rays (the DVD just has the unrated cut). Image quality is solid for both versions, doing a good job with the frequent dark interior sequences. The blu-rays have LPCM versions of the stereo tracks and they offer quality representations of these basic stereo mixes.
There are also plenty of extras spread across both blu-rays. Three commentary tracks are included: an archival track with Combs and Abbott covers the actors’ side of things, a Yuzna and crew commentary is more filmmaking-oriented and a new track with Yuzna and moderator David Gregory discusses the film in the context of his career. Yuzna also gets a short solo interview featurette and the FX crew gets a 14-minute segment dedicated to their work. The package is rounded out by trailers, an archival making-of featurette and a new reel of behind-the-scenes footage included on the second blu-ray.