Written by Leslie Byron Pitt
It’s still hard to imagine that there were financiers who were willing to take a chance on a horror film like Re-Animator. This is meant favourably, as the 1985 Stuart Gordon film is the type of deranged cult classic that would manipulate young minds into full blown horror hounds. Horror films like Re-Animator feel like lightening in a bottle. A perfect storm of confidence and craziness. When filmmakers throw caution to the wind and the audience follows through. There’s not many films which have a disembodied head giving head. I can’t imagine the audience being that large to appreciate such a thing. But it’s one that was large enough to get Re-Animator a sequel. Arrow films has handsomely remastered Brian Yuzna’s batty sequel; Bride of Re-Animator for Blu-ray consumption, and it retains the anarchic spirit of its predecessor and then some.
With elements clearly modelled on James Whale’s masterful Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Bride of Re-Animator follows the exploits of the maniacal Herbert West (Jeffery Combs) and his long suffering colleague Dan (Bruce Abbott) as they find themselves as medics during the Peruvian civil war dealing with West happily dealing with fresh specimens to work on. An ambush has the two deciding to head back to their old jobs as doctors at Miskatonic University. We soon discover that old habits die hard as West’s quest to birth new life continues, this time roping Dan into the proceedings with the chance to revive his dead girlfriend, Meg.
With its knock off Psycho score, manic energy and farcical humour the madness of Bride of Re-Animator begins at a high point and starts as it means to go on. This is the type of horror movie in which Doctors think that they can kill a person more in order to help bring them back to life. Yuzna throws a lot of darts at the board, and stuffs a lot of plot within the films 90 minutes, but the payoff is high enough. Bride of Re-Animator is not as focused as Yuzna’s Society (1989), still a pinnacle of relevant subtext and grotesque imagery. This doesn’t stop the over top stylings of Jeffery Combs (a man who should have had a more Bruce Campbell like career) and often bare chested straight man Abbot from screaming and squelching through an amusing sequel which climaxes with imagery that more recent horror features wouldn’t dare dream of. Not to say there has not been an interesting string of recent horror flicks. However, much like the original Re-Animator, Yuzna’s Bride is reminiscent of a time in which horror films were not only a little mad, but fun with it too.
Extras: A strong haul of extras here. Not only a 2k restoration of the film, approved by its director, but three honest audio commentaries featuring the effects team, Brian Yuzna and the principle leads. We also get behind the scenes glimpses at deleted sequences, three new mini-documentaries with the filmmakers. The mini documentary with Yuzna is light, but reveals fun tidbits of the film’s creation, including its distributors and the film’s solid audience reaction.