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Bride of Re-Animator
Directed by Brian Yuzna in 1990, the man who produced Stuart Gordon's original take on H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator back in 1985, Bride Of Re-Animator takes place a few months after the catastrophic conclusion of the first film. When it begins, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and his associate Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) have relocated to Peru where they continue with their diabolical experiments involving bringing new life to the recently deceased. Given that a civil war currently rages all around them, there's no shortage of materials for them to work with but after their assistant, Francesca Danelli (Fabiana Udenio), tells them that all is not well at the frontlines they retreat once again to the safety of American soil.
Once they've returned to their old stomping grounds of Miskatonic University, they set out to put the heart of the Dan's dearly departed love Megan Halsey into a body made up of various parts salvaged from the corpses available to them. The goal, clearly, is to bring Megan back but wouldn't you know it, the severed head of their old nemesis Doctor Hill (David Gale), has somehow survived and is intent on getting revenge against West and Cain. Meanwhile, Dan hits it off in a big way with Francesca, who has no idea what he and West do in their spare time, all while a nosey cop named Leslie Chapham (Claude Earl Jones) starts poking around where he probably shouldn't be poking.
While this second film in the trilogy (Yuzna would follow this up a few years later with Beyond Re-Animator) doesn't hold a candle, let alone a glowing green syringe, to the first picture it's still a pretty entertaining watch thanks mainly to seeing Combs and Abbott back in action. In the role he'll likely always be remembered for, Combs plays Dr. Herbert West with the right amount of sarcastic wit and psychotic obsession. Every little twitch, every little quirk and every single line delivery is perfect on Combs' part. He does what he does as West fantastically well and even if this movie were nothing but ninety minutes of the man reading the Yellow Pages, if it were done in character it would still be worth watching. Bruce Abbott is also great here, the ‘sane one' compared to Combs' demented doctor. He does very fine work indeed, but just based on the way that the two characters are written his Dan Cain will forever live in the shadow of Herbert West. Adding to the fun is David Gale, reprising his role, albeit as in the form of a floating head rather than a full body, from the first movie. He may not have Barbara Crampton to creep on in this picture but he still delivers a memorably bizarre and over the top performance. Supporting efforts from Claude Earl Jones as our nosey cop and Kathleen Kinmont as the poor woman who eventually becomes the ‘bride' are noteworthy as well, though Fabiana Udenio seems miscast as the revolutionary turned assistant that winds up involved with Cain. She's beautiful to be sure but her character isn't very well written.
It won't surprise anyone familiar with the first movie or with Yuzna's directorial output in general to read that the film's more memorable moments typically involve some pretty strong gore. Those effects, all done the old fashioned way before CGI became the norm, are generally handled very well here. The film climaxes with a decent zombie sequence that, well executed, feels like it's borrowing a little too heavily from the original film's big finish but SFX guru Screaming Mad George and company put on a good show
Note that Arrow have included both the uncut version of the movie as well as the R-rated version of the film in this set. Normally most fans wouldn't care about the R-rated cut but in this case, it's an interesting variant because the gorier bits that were trimmed for that R-rating weren't just cut out but replaced by some interesting alternate footage.
Bride Of Re-Animator arrives on Blu-ray from Arrow Video framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition from ‘brand new 2K restorations of the Unrated and R-rated versions of the film approved by Brian Yuzna'. Both versions of the movie look great here and show very strong detail and nice color reproduction. Compared to the previous DVD release, the upgrade in picture quality offered by this release is impressive. Although this was a feature made on a modest budget, there's good depth to the picture and neither disc shows any issues with compression artifacts or noise reduction.
English language LPCM 2.0 Stereo is order of the day for the audio portion of this release. Optional English subtitles are provided but no alternate language options or subtitles are offered. The audio here is pretty solid if never mind blowing. The score sounds a little bit thin but the dialogue is always clear and easy to follow. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to complain about and the levels are properly balanced throughout the movie. Generally this 2.0 mix sounds good and features a nicely balanced mix free of any audible defects.
Aside from the full presentation of the R-rated version, which is presented on its own disc accompanied by a fourteen minute assemblage of behind the scenes footage, Arrow have included a pretty serious wealth of supplements all found on the first disc in the set starting with the first of three audio commentary tracks, a new talk with Brian Yuzna. Moderated by David Gregory this track, which plays over the unrated cut, is a solid back and forth in which Yuzna tells you pretty much everything you'd want to know about his effort to follow up Stuart Gordon's original picture. He talks about budgetary restraints, working with Combs, the effects work featured in the film courtesy of Screaming Mad George and a fair bit more. The two previously recorded commentaries from the old Pioneer DVD release (one featuring Yuzna, Jeffrey Combs, visual effects supervisor Tom Rainone and the effects team made up of John Buechler, Mike Deak, Bob Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George and the second with Combs and Bruce Abbott) are also carried over so you're not left wanting for commentary action here.
There are some pretty great video supplements thrown into the mix as well, starting with the new Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-animator wherein Yuzna does just what you'd expect given the title: talks about making the film. This covers a lot of the same ground as the commentary but of course it has the added appeal of allowing for clips and archival materials to be used throughout its ten minute running time. Also new to this release is Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists Of Bride of Re-animator wherein Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin and John Buechler are all interviewed about working on this picture. There's a lot of great behind the scenes footage in here along with the interviews and those who geek out over this type of thing should be quite pleased with this fifteen minute production.
Again, carried over from the older DVD release is the Getting Ahead In Horror archival making-of featurette that runs twenty-four minutes. There's some footage in here not seen in the other pieces and so it's pretty interesting. Plenty of cast and crew interviews in here and some remarkably candid footage shot during the production to appreciate make this worth checking out if you haven't seen it before. Also on hand are two deleted scenes, a Carnival Sequence two minute clip made up of stills and commentary explaining some lost material, and a two minute theatrical trailer. Menus and chapter selection are also included.
Alongside the two Blu-ray discs is a DVD disc containing the unrated version of the movie. The three discs are accompanied by a reprint of the Re-Animator: Dawn Of The Re-Animator four issue comic book series originally published in 1992 by Adventure Comics. This series was actually a prequel to the original movie and it's been out of print for years, so seeing it included here is pretty cool. The series was written by Bill Spangler and illustrated by José Malaga. The four issues are reprinted in black and white while the covers are in color. Spangler writes a one page introduction to the collection.
Bride Of Re-Animator might not be the undisputed classic that the original film is but it's a worthy sequel in its own right. Combs is, once again, an absolute blast in the lead and the supporting players all do fine work too. Yuzna's direction is solid and the humor and horror balance out nicely. Arrow's Blu-ray special edition treats the movie right and comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.