Bride of Re-Animator (1990)

The Re-Animator, particularly in its unrated form, became a major cult horror hit rather quickly.  Stuart Gordon made the movie look much better than one would believe from its low budget and it being the first release by a guy known for alternative theater.  It bore little resemblance to the H. P. Lovecraft story that inspired it but, since it was not really one of Lovecraft's best and one he wrote simply because he was paid to, that wasn't a bad thing.  Gordon and co-writer and producer Brian Yuzna made it their own, and the movie is now a horror classic.

Gordon could have revisited it, but he was more interested in seeing what he could do with another Lovecraft story, From Beyond.  Though it took a lot longer for audiences to warm up to that one it still had Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton and once again moved a Lovecraft story successfully into the modern age.  However, with The Re-Animator becoming the belated hit it was, at some point there would have to be a sequel.  With Gordon going on to other projects - including ones not related to Lovecraft - Brian Yuzna hired writers Zeph E. Daniel and Rick Fry to cook up a sequel.

Eight months after the events at Miskatonic Hospital doctors Herbert West (Combs) and Dan Caine (Bruce Abbott) have left the country and are working in the field during a civil war in Peru.  This allows Dan to pursue a legitimate medical practice while giving West an unlimited supply of subjects to experiment on.  Unfortunately, they are working for the losing side, and barely escape.  Returning to the U.S. they also return to working at Miskatonic, where their roles in what happened seem to be overlooked.

It turns out that, predictably, Dan's attempt to revive his girlfriend didn't go so well, but the body parts of those involved are being stored in the morgue - including Meg's heart, which Herbert finds.  Working on the theory that consciousness resides not in the brain but in all the tissue of the body West hopes to assemble his own creature and bring life to all parts simultaneously, thus avoiding the problems he has had in the past.  However, Lt. Lee Chapman (Claude Earl Jones) has suspected the pair all along having something to do with the massacre, while Dan's new girlfriend Francesca (Fabiana Udenio) soon learns what West is doing.  To make matters worse Dr. Carl Hill's (David Gale) head has been found in a carnival and revived by pathologist Dr. Graves (Mel Stewart) and is out for his own revenge on West.

While sufficiently bloody and featuring great practical effects both by David Allen and Screamin' Mad George, Bride of Re-Animator doesn't have any specific scene that makes one squirm like the one involving Dr. Hill's head and Megan in the first.  Still, it's an interesting continuation, with Combs further hamming it up and Abbott doing a better acting job this time around.  David Gale was asked to come back at the last moment so, unfortunately, there is a huge gap from when he is revived to where it begins to even have anything to do with the plot. 

Brian Yuzna is a workmanlike director and his movies are usually pretty decent.  Bride of Re-Animator is one of the better ones, but Yuzna's movies always feel like he was not even his first choice to direct the film.  Gordon didn't have the documentary style of George A. Romero nor the frenetic camera movements of Sam Raimi, but he has a flair for the use of colors and an ability to make a cardboard set look like it cost millions.  He also has a love for what he is directing.  Yuzna seems like he just wants to get the project done, and that kind of bleeds through to the final film. 

Regardless, the writers have provided an entertaining twist on Bride of Frankenstein while Yuzna wisely let the effects crew go wild.  Bride of Re-Animator doesn't surprise like the original did, but it still has much the same spirit and dark humor.  

Bride of Re-Animator (1990)
Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Claude Earl Jones, Fabiana Udenio, David Gale, Kathleen Kinmont
Director: Brian Yuzna



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