Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) have moved past simply reanimating dead bodies; now through a series of living parts, they hope to create new life.
You won't find a fan of Bride of Re-Animator here. To me, it just has sub-par Sequel written all over it. Brian Yuzna steps up and takes over from Stuart Gordon as director of this installment. I wasn’t impressed with how he visualized the film. It looks dull, to the point that sometimes I wondered if it was how he wanted it to look or if it was the effects of aging on the film. Under his direction, the film also begins to plod and he can’t really seem to keep the energy up.
Jeffrey Combs has said on several occasions that the problem with Bride was that they attempted to play it campier. For me, it wasn’t a problem that the Sequel had more humor, it was that the humor didn’t work. Yuzna underplays so much of it, that a lot of it doesn’t register unless you’re told that they were trying to be funny. In the moments where it is obvious, it still isn’t funny, with maybe the exception of one sequence.
The film was further hampered by two unfortunate casting choices. First, is Claude Earl Jones as Lt. Leslie Chapman. He just didn’t do it for me; his character always seemed too happy. Which is very inappropriate for his motivations in the story. I suppose he’s trying to play it as arrogance, but it didn’t come across that way to me. In addition, when he becomes dramatic, he really overacts.
The other is Fabiana Udenio as Cain’s new love interest, Francesca. Udenio is an actress that I find easier to enjoy in a comedic role, such as Summer School or Austin Powers. Her accent is so strong and prominent in her more straight forward performances, that it’s hard for me to take her seriously. A lot of her acting here comes across as goofy. Perhaps she would be fine in another language, I don’t know. About the only thing I can say in her defense, is that I appreciate the fact that they didn’t try and cast a Barbara Crampton clone.
Another of the new faces is Gloria (Kathleen Kinmont), a terminally ill patient that Cain has taken a liking to, because she reminds him of former girlfriend Meg Halsey. I thought she did a pretty good job; especially during the hospital scenes. Of course, Combs and Bruce Abbott haven’t changed much about their roles from the previous film, but the dialogue between the two just isn’t as sharp upon this revisiting. Herbert scores most of his best moments this time out on his own. And yes, Dr. Hill’s head is back, even if perhaps it shouldn’t be.
All of Hill’s scenes feel pretty tacked on, and the reason is that the original script did not involve him at all. It was only after David Gale asked Yuzna what was on tap for him in the Sequel, that he was added. If not for them tying him into the A plot eventually (which was pretty forced), you could cut all of Hill’s scenes and still have a story. Because, it’s definitely like having two movies going inside one. Dr. Graves (Mel Stewart), was another character who added little to the story, since he was placed in simply to work with Hill. I guess part of me wants to say that since David Gale passed away not long after this film, that it was good that he got to play Dr. Hill again. But, it really doesn’t work for the film; it helps make it uneven.
Despite all of the irks I’ve listed so far, here’s what frustrates me the most about this one: it pretty much misses it’s own point. The central concept of West creating new life is interesting, but the film skimps on it and shoves the payoff in at the very end. That should have absolutely happened in the middle of the film, in my view. But, during that time there’s too much filler with characters talking about the events of the Original. In the end, we're given a cliff notes version of both Francesca and the Bride's character arcs in favor of a rehash of Re-Animator’s finale. So much more could have been done with that, and the Bride character in general, if it had been more of its own film.
One of the few things I can compliment is some of the FX work. A lot of talent involved, as with some of the other late-80’s Horror productions, they brought in several special effects houses to work on various things in the film. The main three were KNB Effects handling the Bride and they did a respectable job; while Screaming Mad George designed some creepy and interesting creatures, and David Allen did some cool stop-motion work. So, at least you can’t blame the FX guys.
There are two releases of Bride of Re-Animator in Region 1 that I’m aware of. The 1999 Pioneer Special Edition that I’m reviewing, which is pretty rare at this point and is up there with Fright Night Part 2 as one of the pricier Sequels on DVD. The other is a re-release from Artisan. The difference between the two is that the Pioneer release is filled with extras and the Artisan disc is bare bones. The Pioneer version also has an Unrated version in addition to the R-rated.
If you are a fan of this film or a Re-Animator franchise loyalist, then I would suggest the Pioneer version for the extras, but certainly not for the Unrated cut. The image quality on that cut is less than good and the sound is pretty shoddy. No wonder Artisan didn’t even bother with re-releasing this version, if this is the best quality available. The differences in the two versions are not that great anyway; maybe a full minute. Highlights of the extras include the excised opening where Meg (Mary Sheldon) is reanimated following the ending of the first film, and a commentary track with Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbot, where they basically goof on the film and each other for the length of the running time. Good extras, but a lackluster film.
Directed by: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, David Gale, Fabiana Udenio, Claude Earl Jones
Released by: Pioneer Entertainment
- R-rated and Unrated versions
- Audio Commentary by Producer/Director Brian Yuzna, Actor Jeffrey Combs, and Effects Artists Howard Berger, John Carl Beuchler, Mike Deak, Screaming Mad George, Robert Kurtzman, and Tom Rainone
- Audio Commentary by Actors Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott
- Deleted Scene: “Meg Is Re-Animated”
- Discussion of the deleted Carnival Sequence with stills
- Dr. West’s Casebook: Behind the Scenes still gallery