-Written by Robert O’ Doherty
Sequels (especially horror sequels) have a bad reputation for not living up to their predecessors, but in recent years remakes have changed the game and deservedly so. Re-Animator is a film I love so much because it’s just plain horror entertainment that’s downright fun, like the Evil Dead series (Re-Animator & Army of Darkness even crossed worlds one time in comic book form). The idea of watching a sequel to Re-Animator with a new crew on board had me a little worried to say the least. Would Bride of Re-Animator capture the magic of Stuart Gordon’s cult hit Re-Animator based on H. P. Lovecraft’s story ”Herbert West-Reanimator”?
Bride of Re-Animator takes place eight months after the ‘Miskatonic Massacre’, where our highly ambitious duo, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) are working as medics during the Peruvian civil war. The scene is like a toy store for West, as he gets enough casualties to play it. Unfortunately, they must return home as their current location is being attacked by enemy troops. The opening is impressive, fun and right away you know this film is in safe hands.
When the devious West returns to his isolated basement of experiments, he realizes that his regent can do more than just bring a corpse back to life, it can also reanimate body parts. This sparks a disturbing experiment in West’s mind – to create a living being from separate human parts. The madness doesn’t stop there as a familiar character rears his head; Dr Carl Hill. Hill is brought back when Dr. Graves (Mel Stuart) stumbles across the glowing green reanimating serum in the hospitals ”Miskatonic Massacre” department. Hill gains the power to command the dead and forces Graves to sew bat wings to his decapitated head as he begins his quest for vengeance against West.
While West works on his ‘pet project’, Dan believes what Herbert is doing is just plain un-ethical. I always loved the camaraderie between these two characters; West being the a-moral, zealous, mad scientist, while Dan desperately tries to make the right decisions, but continuously gives into Wests belligerent insanity. Perhaps he is tempted by West – after all he tells Dan that he can use his deceased girlfriends heart for the experiment so that it might once again beat inside the freshly reconstructed female frankenstein torso. It’s great seeing that nothing has changed between these two.
Gordon’s style stays intact, while director Brian Yuzna steers the story in the right direction. In terms of gore, Bride of Re-Animator kicks. One scene in particular depicts a dog (that belongs to Dan’s new love interest, Francesca Danelli [Fabiana Udenio]) being swung around by a reanimated detective until the dog’s leg tears off, causing the cute and cuddly pooch to bash off the stone fireplace. Whilst this description may have some audience members calling Peta, the scene is so over the top that it actually takes on a surreally, cartoonish comedic tone. In fact its so grotesquely humorous thats its likely you’ll sit there and laugh your ass off, right down to the moment when the detective hits the severed dog leg off the front door in an effort to escape West’s madhouse.
Nevertheless, the gorefest really kicks off when the Bride comes to life; with the aforementioned heart in place and the head of a recently deceased patient of Dan’s on top, the bright red blood really starts a’flowin. West’s experiment is a success, but unfortunately the undead dame instantly has a crush on Dan (who doesn’t?) which results in a catfight between the newly animated corpse and Francesca. Hill then makes his appearance and initiates a cluster fuck of epic proportions. During these scenes you’ll get to watch a good few creature feature effects that are outstandingly gruesome. I won’t give away the characters fate in this review, instead I’ll let you see the who makes it out in one piece… or several pieces.
While I think this serves as a worthy sequel, it avoids the simplicity of the original due to all the subplots, but I guess you gotta switch gears a little second time around. Yuzna deserves a pat on the back for achieving what most horror sequels can’t; maintaining a faithfulness to the original while also bringing the franchise somewhere new.