Halloween is right around the corner and a perfect time to start watching horror classics, such as “Bride of Re-Animator” (1989, dir. Brian Yuzna), the second installment in the “Re-Animator” series.
“Bride of Re-Animator” continues the "Re-Animator" series with Dr. Herbert West (Jeffery Combs) and Dr. Dan Cain’s (Bruce Abbott) quest to create the perfect human being from dead tissue using their re-animation reagent. The story starts in a Peruvian civil war, where tensions are high and the situation is dangerous. Dr. West is more focused than ever, he has somewhat of an unlimited supply of dead tissue (bodies). Dr. Cain seems to still be stuck in the moral dilemma of playing God, which is very understandable. Their medical tent was stormed by enemy troops, forcing the doctors to go back to Massachusetts and perform their experiments in the basement laboratory of Dr. Cain’s house (which is also a morgue). Dr. West becomes obsessed with the idea of making a brand new person out of parts of other individuals. Dr. Cain is still dealing with his moral dilemma but is quickly convinced to further research when Dr. West promises to make a new Megan (Cain’s deceased fiancée). A fellow doctor, Dr. Wilbur Graves (Mel Stewart), discovers Dr. West’s reagent and tests it on Dr. Hill’s severed head (antagonist from “Re-Animator”), which ultimately awakens the evil doctor. While all of this is going on, Lt. Leslie Chapman (Claude Earl Jones) starts investigating the two. He suspects that the two doctors have been re-animating bodies and have been stealing human remains. Not only do the doctors have the stress of their research but also have a detective hot on their trail. Will they succeed in their revolutionary research and make a new human being or get caught pushing the limits of life?
The cinematography throughout this film was unique and outstanding. The camera angles put the viewer on edge, added tension and brought relief. From the stalking shots (following a future “victim”), looking through the eyes of the creatures, the genius dramatic “80s horror” shots, and even the comedic shots. There’s a specific style (“80s horror” shots) due to the look of some of the shots. In modern horror, they pay homage to such shots.
This film uses superb practical effects; there is something so genuine about 80’s horror film practical effects. It shows how dedicated the crew is to the art and how much planning went into each scene to make it just right. I don’t want to give it all away but I’ll give to examples of this movies practical effects. There is a “skinned human body” that is shown throughout the movie and it looks extremely real, you can’t get that look with digital effects. There is something about the way practical effects are used, it makes the scene feel dirty, gross, and real. Dr. West’s “creatures” throughout the film all look real as well, purely creative genius. Yes, there is a corny side to practical effects and with a film like “Bride of Re-Animator”, which is a horror/comedy; it balances itself out with a steady dose of comedy and horror elements. I’m most impressed with the art of them, how real and how creative each piece was. I don’t want to give too many examples because I wouldn’t want to ruin the film. You will have to watch to see just how cool the effects are.
I personally really enjoy the “Re-Animator” series because it reminds me of the classic stories of “Frankenstein”, which is the point. It is just a modern day telling of the tale. The series stories are based off of the great H.P. Lovecraft, if you don’t know who that is you should familiarize yourself. His work is genuinely creepy, sophisticated, and attention grabbing. The “Re-Animator” series is a great visualization of Lovecraft’s written words, does the stories justice.
Mad scientists, talking zombies, gore, beautiful 80’s women, and horror puns proves why this series is a cult classic. “Bride of Re-Animator” is a very solid sequel to a film that didn’t necessarily need a sequel. Some parts of the film have some holes and the music choice could’ve been a tad better.
Arrow Video put out a stunning re-mastered version with beautiful packaging design. I am lucky enough to have found this version in stores and not online. Oddly enough, weeks before purchasing the copy, I had a lengthy conversation about the film with an older gentleman at a Best Buy. He has the same love for collecting physical media and the love for cult classic horror films. While writing this review, I noticed that the gentleman and I have a similar summation of the film. It may not be perfect but it is one hell of a ride and a fun watch.
It is not easy to follow up a classic but “Bride of Re-Animator” pulls it off, which is why it scores an admirable, 7.5/10.