Bride of Re-Animator

BRA1

Eight months after what’s been dubbed “The Miskatonic Massacre,” Herbert West and Dan Cain are back at trying to perfect West’s reagent formula, but this time they not only want to stop death, but create life. A loose adaption of H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West: Reanimator.

You know, I could have saved Herbert West a lot of wasted time if he’d have come to me about creating life. I could have told him there was a really enjoyable way to do it that didn’t involve grave robbing or unethical medical practices. A way where, when things get messy, you’re doing it right. I would have told him that people have been creating life for some time now using this particular method, a method that occasionally involves green fluids, but usually just for fun. I’m of course talking about robotics. I know where your filthy minds were going, but if I was talking about sex, I wouldn’t have excluded grave robbing. Don’t judge me, sometimes you need a new arm before a date, and the cemetery is right there. Besides, you’re the ones who immediately went to sex when I was obviously talking about building robots. There is no way you could possibly get sex from what I was saying, even though I was totally leading you there before changing tracks to robotics. Flipping perverts…

Our film begins eight months after Herbert West and Dan Cain brought death and destruction to the Miskatonic campus using West’s reagent, a serum capable of giving life to the dead, but with disastrous consequences. The pair are finishing up a tour of duty in Peru where they’ve volunteered as medics in a civil war. While there, West discovered a key ingredient he believes will help in perfecting his reagent formula, and as soon as he returns home, he goes to work. His progress is hampered when a detective comes across the remarkably well preserved head of Dr. Carl Hill (the preservation being the result of being injected with the reagent in the first film). This leads the detective back to Miskatonic where body parts have been turning up missing, and eventually to West himself. It turns out West has been stealing body parts for his experiments, but this time around, he’s not only interested in giving life, but creating it as well. Though Dan is initially disgusted with what West is doing, he gives in and decides to help the man when West finds the perfectly preserved heart (also thanks to the reagents use in the first film) of Dan’s former girlfriend Meg and promises that he can give her back to him. With the detective determined to arrest West, a distraction in the form an old flame from Dan’s recent past that shows up out of nowhere, and the machinations of a not so dead Dr. Hill’s head, it’s only a matter of time before Miskatonic faces its second massacre in less than a year. There’s also the little matter of West’s chamber of rejects to deal with.

BRA2

{When you fail at cheating death, just create life}

While Re-Animator told the first parts of Lovecraft’s Herbert West: Reanimator, Bride of Re-Animator tackles the rest, or at least most of the rest. Also, while Re-Animator took a more serious approach to Lovecraft’s story, peppering humor in here and there and having a great time with the gore while maintaining a more serious approach, Bride of Re-Animator, in case the title didn’t give it away, takes a more tongue in cheek approach. Sometimes it worked out well, but there were more than a few times it descended into slapstick territory and became nothing more than silly punchlines. I didn’t entirely hate it because when it worked, it was pretty funny, and to be honest, the Re-Animator series is a good place for some comedy, but it just became so silly at times that it seemed to be bordering on bad parody or misguided satire. I wish I could say that the poor comedy was the only issue with Bride of Re-Animator, but sadly it is not. Not to worry though, despite the many issues I came across, much of which can be chalked up to poor story writing, there are a few things that redeem the film and make it fully worth the watch.

BRA4

{The face of a true comedian}

Though the bad comedy was my biggest issue with Bride of Re-Animator, it wasn’t close to the only problem with the second film in the Re-Animator trilogy. Here’s a few of the problems that bothered me most.

  • The detective trying to catch West is an absolute idiot. At one point they’re able to sneak a body right past him using only a pair of sunglasses for a disguise, but that’s the guy we’re supposed to believe is going to catch a genius like West. I understand it was supposed to be another attempt at wacky humor, but they spend a significant amount of time trying to convince the audience that he’s a real threat only to turn around and show how dumb he actually is.
  • Dan waffles constantly throughout the film. One minute he’s against what they’re doing, the next he’s all for it, and it takes but a few words from West to turn Dan from a conflicted man worried about the implications of what they’re doing into a complete psychopath. Yes, he’s supposed to be conflicted because of his former girlfriend’s death, but he was far too easily swayed time and time again for me to really believe the guy was ever worried about what they were doing.
  • Why were none of the zombies from the first film put somewhere they could be studied? In Bride of Re-Animator, we discover that the zombies responsible for the Miskatonic Massacre, the ones that weren’t permanently put down, were simply locked up in an insane asylum. These are reanimated corpses that not a single person thought might be better studied in a science lab. You’d think a medical school would be more interested in walking dead people.
  • The extra love interest subplot seemed forced and out of place, like it was added into the movie after the fact. The love interest in question if a revolutionary Dan met in Peru who was so embroiled in her revolution she was able to take a break to go visit her good friend. I didn’t know revolutions got vacations, but apparently they do in Peru.
  • How exactly did Herbert West survive the events of the first movie? There’s never any explanation as to how he, and Dan for that matter, made it out of the Miskatonic Massacre with not only their lives but their careers intact.

There’s a few other minor ones, like the characters blocking up the wrong side of a swinging door, but I could go on and on about why this movie is broken, or I can give a few examples and then explain why I’d still recommend watching it anyways.

BRA5

{This guy gets it}

There are three things that make Bride of Re-Animator a fun movie to watch despite the problems. The first is Jeffery Combs (Herbert West). Once again, Jeffery Combs is amazing with his “creepy but endearing” performance. He’s so damn awkward that it offsets his more despicable traits. The second is the performance of actress Kathleen Kinmont at the end of the film. See, the way West wants to create life is by creating an entirely new creature, one made up of different parts like a Frankenstein monster (thus the sequel’s name since the creation is a female consisting of a particular patient’s head, the heart of Dan’s girlfriend, and various other scavenged parts). When the creation is complete and the movie comes to its head, Kinmont’s performance is absolutely heartbreaking. She was excellent in her role, and I felt so terrible for the poor creature. Lastly, and this is the main reason I love the first movie so much, the gore is just as inventive as ever with West coming up with some horrifying creations that don’t look half bad. The makeup and effects aren’t quite on par with the first movie, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. West has been experimenting with reanimating different combinations of body parts to observe the results, things like reanimating a hand with eyes attached to it or a human arm and leg sewn together and then brought to life. There are a plethora of these rejects just waiting to attack anything they can get their parts on, and though they didn’t always look great, they were at least inventive with the wide array of these creatures West has around. There’s also the Frankenwoman they’re creating. The makeup work for her is both amazing and haunting. And of course, there’s enough blood to satisfy my fellow gorehounds.

BRA3

{This poor, poor creature}

Despite the issues with Bride of Re-Animator, it’s still a worthwhile watch. Just give it a bit to pick up, the first half is more than a little slow.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Brian Yunza (Return of the Living Dead 3, The Dentist)

Starring: Jeffery Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond), Bruce Abbot (Re-Animator, Dark Justice), and Kathleen Kinmont (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Nightforce)

Written By: H.P. Lovecraft (Original Story), Rick Fry (Society, Dementia), Woody Keith (Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, Society), and Brian Yunza (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead)

Released By: Wild Street and 50th Street Films

Release Year: 1989

Release Type: Theatrical

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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