Stuart Gordon’s 1985 Re-Animator is an iconic horror effort famed for its splatter-gore goodness. As with any good horror, of course a sequel followed. And that’s where 1990’s Bride of Re-Animator comes into play.
With Re-Animator producer Brian Yuzna on directing duties, not to mention having worked on the film’s script, we once again get to see the twisted and tormented antics of Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs). Joined once more by Dr. Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), West is still on his crusade of re-animating dead tissue. When we meet up again with the duo, they’re working deep in war-torn Peru, using the readily-available spew of wounded soldiers as test subjects for West’s demented schemes. Returning back to the US, it doesn’t take long before the invasive Lt. Chapman (Claude Earl Jones) is hot on the tail of West following the events showcased in Re-Animator. Whilst both West and Cain have this to contend with, this still doesn’t put a halt to Doc West’s insatiable dedication to his mission objective. As for Dan, he’s seen making goo-goo eyes at Francesca Danelli (Fabiana Udenio), although it’s his strong affection towards the terminally-ill Gloria (genre fave Kathleen Kinmont) that’s always going to prove most problematic, particularly when West’s latest concept is to use body parts and organs to literally create new life means that terminally-ill no longer means a thing, particularly when one of the aims of the day is to build the perfect female specimen. On top of this, West also has to contend with the heady presence of the first film’s Dr. Hill (David Gale), who’s re-animated severed noggin’ ends up barking orders at poor old Dr. Graves (Mel Stewart) as he looks to get his revenge on West.
Bride of Re-Animator is a fun, gory follow-up to the splatter-tastic Re-Animator, although it never quite hits the heights, be it story-wise or gore-wise, of its predecessor. The change of focus of the narrative towards actually creating new life and sculpting the perfect woman is certainly an interesting twist on the ideals established in the original movie, and it’s with this particular plot point that we’re treated to some truly terrific SFX work. Sure, to some modern eyes said SFX work may seem a little dated, and it certainly is of its time, but that still doesn’t take away the charm and excellent craftsmanship on display from the likes of John Carl Buechler, Greg Nicotero and the Screaming Mad George team.
As Herbert West, Jeffrey Combs is again the star of the show, with the actor even allowing some semblance of care to come through in his second turn as West. Granted, said care is proved to merely be a façade as West bulldozes on with using anyone and every situation to his advantage in achieving his goal, but it’s a slightly more nuanced performance from Combs. And that’s not to say we don’t see West at his maniacal best, including the awesomely-egotistical line of “I created what no mind’s mind nor woman’s womb could ever hope to achieve” when his God complex comes to the fore, but there’s just the slightest of difference in the character this time out. For the rest of the cast, Dave Gale hams it up maybe a little too much as the severed head of Carl Hill, and Bruce Abbott’s acting is, much like his turn in Re-Animator, still a tad cringe-worthy. The rest of the supporting cast are all fine in what they’re needed for, and the stunning Kathleen Kinmont makes for an excellent choice as the eventual “bride” of the piece.
All in all, if you enjoyed Re-Animator, there’s a whole lot to be enjoyed about Bride of Re-Animator. Is it as good as the first movie? Frankly, no. But that still doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty of blood, guts, shuffling corpses, grotesque creations, and crazed antics to take in. As for the special features of this new release, the three audio commentaries are all great accompaniments, although the featurettes are all maybe a little too short for what longstanding horror hounds would be hoping for.
Special Features: Three audio commentaries / ‘Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride’ featurette / ‘Splatter Matters’ featurette / ‘Getting Ahead in Horror’ making-of / Theatrical trailer / Deleted scenes
BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: BRIAN YUZNA / SCREENPLAY: RICK FRY, WOODY KEITH, BRIAN YUZNA / STARRING: JEFFREY COMBS, BRUCE ABBOTT, CLAUDE EARL JONES, FABIANA UDENIO, KATHLEEN KINMONT, DAVID GALE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW