Bride of Re-Animator Blu-ray Review: A Gallows Worth of Fun

Brian Yuzna’s sequel to the cult classic Re-Animator is the very definition of a film that is not for everyone. For your humble reviewer, it was about the point when the re-animated dismembered fingers, which have been attached to an eyeball, escape the lab and are accidentally squished by the police lieutenant that I knew Bride of Re-Animator was a film totally for me. Bride strips the original of its – well I don’t want to say import as Re-Animator isn’t much more than a hilariously gory zombie romp – so let’s say artistic meaning and gleefully reproduces its blood-splattered slapstick.

After a brief intro where the floating, decapitated head of Dr. Hill (David Gale) promises revenge, we find our heroes (such as they are) Dr. West (Jeffrey Combs) and the reluctant Dr. Cain (Bruce Abbott) working in a mobile medical unit in some unnamed South American civil war where they can continue their experiments in re-animating corpses without so much as a blink of an eye from the locals. Quickly, the scene turns into a mad-cap, blood-soaked farce that sets us up perfectly into what becomes something of a theme.

This second throw-away intro scene is followed by the two doctors returning to Miskatonic Hospital where they quietly begin their experiments anew while ducking questions from Lt. Chapman (Claude Earl Jones), who seeks answers to the myriad of questions arising from the slaughter in the first film. Surprisingly, no one else in the film seems to much care about those events and continue to carry on like nothing ever happened. Even Dr. Graves (Mel Stewart), the head of the pathology department, who keeps the various body parts from the previous film in his closet, doesn’t seem to put out by the whole thing. Well at least not until he re-animates the head of Dr. Hill and starts getting ordered around.

Meanwhile, Dr. West and Dr. Cain continue trying to find fresh-enough body parts to piece together and re-animate what’s left of Dr. Cain’s girlfriend, Gloria (its mostly just her heart at this point). Dr. Cain is reluctant but Dr. West knows tugging at Dr. Cain’s heartstrings (and sometimes a corpse’s arteries) is the only way to get the help he needs. The lieutenant continues to probe into the case, and we find out that his interest is personal as the melee from the previous film has left his wife in a catatonic, and re-animated state. Dr. Hill’s re-animated head begins making demands of revenge upon our heroes, and there is something of a love interest thrown in for good measure.

As you may have already suspected, there isn’t a lot of sense or reason to the plot. It’s a bit like they took a bucket full of dismembered parts, threw them at a wall, and saw what stuck. Not that any of this matters as a film like this doesn’t have much need to pay attention to silly things like sense, reality, or good storytelling. No, give a film like this giant baths of blood, a few barrels viscera, and enough macabre humor, and you’ve got yourself a gallows worth of fun.

Arrow Video has once again created a top-notch release with this one. It comes in both R-rated and Unrated versions. They spent a year looking for a master print with the unrated sequences intact. It was well worth the effort as the film looks and sounds great. Colors and black look good. Details are nicely drawn, though the film’s sometimes rather lurid lighting design can dull the finer details. There is noticeable grain throughout, which is to be expected, and that shows up a bit more at times, presumably during the “lost” moments. Likewise, the audio sounds good. There’s lots of ridiculous horror sounds and they do a good job of using the speakers. The soundtrack comes through nicely, as does the dialogue.

There is actually only a few minutes difference between the R-rated and Unrated versions. Most of the additions comes during the final melee of gore, though there are small cuts scattered throughout giving the Unrated version just a bit more gruesomeness.

Extras include three audio commentaries (one with the director, one with almost the entire cast, and another with just Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott). Frankly, that’s a few too many times to have to sit through the entire movie over and over again, but my spot-listens show that all three are quite lively and fun. Also included is a short reminiscence from the director, one on the special effects (they used multiple FX houses to cover the extensive amount of real effects in the film,) a nice little feature on the making of the film, and behind-the-scenes footage. Also included in the package (though not given to me, the reviewer, as this is a limited run) is a book featuring essays and a Dawn of the Re-Animator comic.

As noted Bride of Re-Animator isn’t for everybody. But if you’re the sort that likes his comedy mixed with flying decapitated heads, dogs with human hands sewn onto them, and lots and lots of gore, then this film will really float your corpse. So get you some popcorn (and maybe a barf bag or two), invite some like minded pals over, and party like good horror hounds should and do. It is a limited edition run of only 1,000 copies, so get yours now!

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Mat Brewster

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