Either fate or marketing research, with the latter being most likely, saw the recent HD releases of both ‘The Re-animator’ and ‘The Bride of Re-animator’. Cue the emptying of wallets of horror fans everywhere! Whist the former was released by Second Sight, the ‘Bride of the Re-animator’ is delivered in a lush 3-disc format courtesy of Arrow Films.
Unlike the vast majority of horror franchises the Re-animator franchise (consisting of the two films already mentioned, and the third ‘Beyond Re-animator’) manages to keep a rather consistent link in terms of production and cast. Whilst one could argue there was perhaps little need for any sequels at all, the runaway success of the first pretty much guaranteed it. Released originally in 1990, the follow up to Gordon’s cult masterpiece, this time helmed by Brian Yuzna (Society) picks up pretty much where the first movie left off, and so Dr West’s research continues.
I said almost picks up, because oddly enough, the film actually opens in a fictional Peruvian Civil War, where West and Cain, after being cleared of any wrong doing in what is now referred to as the ‘Miskatonic Massacre’, are continuing to perfect their re-animation agent. When that all goes to shit, they return home and try to resume normal life. In a rather tenuous couple of scenes we see West’s reagent being discovered by another orderly and used to bring back to life the head of West’s nemesis from the first film ‘Dr Hill’, we see Dr Cain resuming normal life, swearing to have no further part of West’s experiment (a choice that lasts about 5 minutes) and of course Dr West, this time intent on reanimating the perfect person, made from the parts of several people but all reanimated at the same time to create a new type of zombie. Within 20 minutes however, we are pretty much at the starting point of the plot from the first movie, and so resumes another 90 odd minutes of carnage!
Critically, this movie is far less well received than the first. This to me is of no surprise, although one fact that resonates openly from each and every review is that if you love the first, you will also get on well with its sequel. I also concur. Despite the iffy plot expositions, the feel and flow of ‘Bride’ is so close to the original that I just settled down and watched the continuation of the story, rather than worry about comparing it. Unlike some sequels the production values of this film seemed well on par with the first, and as such the gore sequences were well up there. The script and plot are somewhat less defined, and overall the feel from a these points of view is simply that the film is a little less cohesive – but the main elements are still there, and ultimately this continues the constant power-play of heart and mind between the two lead roles.
In the effect department, well there are several ‘advancements’ in what the Re-animation serum is capable of. Dr Hill (the talking head from the first film) now has telepathic powers – although I do believe that one of the scenes integrated into the first films recent release shows this – and so can control other re-animated corpses. We get to see several odd splicing’s of limbs which leads to some of the film’s most amusing set pieces – the finger-eye monster being a specific favourite of mine! Fear of censorship didn’t seem to be a concern, and in terms of violence… well let’s just say effects are good and nobody will be left wanting!
Overall, as with my review of the recent release of the original ‘Re-animator’ I have little more to add to what other critics say in terms of the quality of the film. At the time it might have seen somewhat a cash-in, but by now its heralded as close to a classic as the first with this release from Arrow proving definitive.