(A.k.a. RE-ANIMATOR 2)

Some time after the shenanigans of the first RE-ANIMATOR film, disgraced medical students Herbert (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan (Bruce Abbott) are stationed in Peru as volunteers. Tending to bloody victims of the civil war there, theirs is a largely thankless task. Though for Herbert, it’s an opportunity for him to continue developing his luminous re-animation serum by experimenting on wounded soldiers in the hope of creating new life from dead tissue matter; for Dan, he gets to keep a watchful eye over his pal while falling for the charms of local beauty Francesca (Fabiana Udenio).

By the time they’ve returned to Miskatonic hospital, the hullabaloo they caused a couple of years earlier has died down. Save for embittered cop Leslie (Claude Earl Jones), that is, whose wife was a victim of Herbert’s original mad experiments. He’s obsessed with finding answers and remains convinced of ill-doings perpetrated by this pair.

Oh, and then there’s Dr Hill (David Gale). Yep, his severed head is still on the scene – stored in the darkest recesses of the hospital. It’s discovered by curious Dr Graves (Mel Stewart) along with a discarded bottle of Herbert’s potent serum. Naturally, Graves injects a portion of the serum into Hill’s bonce, and the head is re-animated – giving it ample opportunity to explain to its latest life-giver why it must be avenged.

As Leslie’s investigations grow ever-more intense, Francesca’s relationship with Dan smoulders, and Hill’s plans to exact retribution against Herbert develop, the former students busy themselves with their latest scientific breakthrough: re-animating isolated body parts.

Factor into this drama Dan’s loyalty towards terminal patient Gloria (Kathleen Kinmont) and Herbert’s readiness to exploit this fact as he works towards building the ultimate bride, and the scene is set for one hell of a wild finale.

BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR surfaced in 1989, four years after Stuart Gordon’s cult classic original. This time around, Brian Yuzna (producer of the original) directs. And, some heavy-handed comedy aside, he does a grand job.

It’s great to see principal cast members such as Combs, Gale and Abbott return (though Barbara Crampton is obviously missed). This familiarity works in the sequel’s favour, and is extended to an opening titles sequence which is near-identical to its predecessor’s. In terms of pacing, the film is spot-on; performances are wild but perfectly pitched, in keeping with the first movie.

The special effects are gorily superb … as you’d expect, when you see names such as Howard Berger, John Carl Buechler, Screaming Mad George and Greg Nicotero on the credits. Herbert’s extension of ambition into re-animating body parts and then sewing them together to create new life allows for plenty of wildly imaginative FX work.

As mentioned above, I feel the film teeters too heavily into comedy at times. It was a commonplace thing in the late 80s as horror films came under attack from censorship groups and consequently the studios became more reluctant to deliver straight-up terror flicks: a spate of apologetic "parodies" ensued. BRIDE isn’t too bad to be fair, but I do feel it’s inferiority to its predecessor is mainly due to its tendency to push the humorous aspects too far.

Still, the film holds up better than I expected almost three decades since its original release, and it remains impossible not to delight in the rapport shared between Combs and Abbott, or the theatrical malevolence of the late Gale.

With solid production values, memorable set-pieces and a totally bonkers finale, BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR deserves its station as an enduring cult favourite.

The film has been treated poorly on home video in the past. Which makes Arrow Films Video’s deluxe dual-format release all the more delicious.

We were sent a copy of the unrated version, on blu-ray, to review.

The film looks superb in its new 1080p transfer. Housed as an MPEG4-AVC file on a 50gb disc, this 2k restoration of the fully uncut film boasts solid blacks, luscious warm colours and accurate flesh tones throughout. There’s no noise to comment upon, while depth and texture are impressively filmic throughout. Detail and clarity are upped majorly over previous releases. I did notice where a couple of (unrated) scenes had a more faded look to the remainder of the film, but it’s not a huge difference in quality to be fair.

English audio comes in cleaned-up 2.0 PCM, and is consistently reliable. Optional English subtitles are well-written and easy to read at all times.

The disc opens to an animated main menu page. From there we get pop-up menus, including the usual scene selection menu allowing access to the film via 12 chapters.

There are no bonus features. Only kidding …

Three – yes, three! – audio commentary tracks kick proceedings off. The first two (one featuring Combs and Abbott; a second one where Combs is joined by Yuzna and several crew members) have been available previously. But they remain good sources of mirth, trivia and nostalgic fun. A new track finds Yuzna in reflective mode, speaking at greater length about his film, its influences, its shortcomings, his own tastes and so forth. This is expertly moderated by Severin Films’ David Gregory.

New extras continue with "Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride", a self-explanatory 9-minute video interview with the well-preserved filmmaker, and "Splatter Masters" – which affords us 14 enjoyable minutes in the company of the guys behind the film’s crazy special effects.

"Getting Ahead In Horror" is an archive 22-minute featurette offering behind-the-scenes interviews and some FX test footage. Fans will have seen this in the past, no doubt, along with a couple of insightful deleted scenes and the film’s original trailer.

Although not made available to review, this set also comes with a second blu-ray proffering the R-rated cut of the film (for purists???) and 14 minutes worth of behind-the-scenes footage, as well as a DVD version of the unrated cut.

The lovely embossed packaging houses all three discs in a fold-out digipack, while the original 1992 comic book prequel "Dawn of the Re-Animator" is also included, having been reprinted in its entirety.

A lovely release, allowing for revitalised appreciation of this enjoyable flick.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Arrow Video
Region All
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review