The film is not without its merits
I created what no man's mind nor woman's womb could ever hope to achieve.With the rip-roaring success of Stuart Gordon’s Re-animator in 1985, still regarded as one of the greatest splatter fests of all time, a sequel was inevitable. There were still elements of the original H.P. Lovecraft story to pilfer as well as previous horror film ideas, not least of all the ‘bride’ motif. Clear parallels can be drawn between Brian Yuzna’s sequel and James Whales’ Universal monster Bride of Frankenstein (1935) not least in terms of its ultimate story narrative. However, where Frankenstein is a masterpiece and ushered in the horror genre as we know it, Re-animator failed to ignite the cinema despite valiant attempts by all involved. After all, the ingredients are all there: returning cast members, gallons of gore, based on one of the most respected horror writers of all time, a director fresh from success and in his prime as well as the will of the audience to succeed. But something didn’t quite gel, and even now it is lacking. The main problem lies with the incoherency of the story and the lack of serious motivation for the main characters.
Whilst the main narrative is about West ‘creating life’, there are a bewildering amount of scenes with characters and ideas brought in and dropped, or there to tie in with the previous film, or there to provide some conflict but with no motivation. At its heart the story should have revolved around two friends, at odds with each other about the questionable ethics of the work they are undertaking – the mad scientist and his unwitting accomplice. But in trying to bring in ideas from the original writings (the opening war sequence) and characters from the original film (the flying head) any cohesive thread is lost in the mix. And over time these have suffered. The film, however, is not without its merits; the gore and effects are superb, Jeffery Combes is sublime as West and carries the film, there is a great deal of black humour and some genuinely funny moments – but in the end it doesn’t go anywhere or achieve very much as there never feels like there is anything at stake.
Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
The 2013/14 restoration work (completed by TLEFilms FRPS, Berlin and Birkenwerder, Germany) that has gone into the unrated version is clear, with a bright detailed image exhibiting depth and vibrancy. Detail itself is terrific with clear skin texture and clothing weaves, office equipment and the tools used by Herbert for his trade all show keen edges, while the various sets hold fine angles. Check out the wobbly stunt walls and make-up effects!
Colour is nicely vibrant with a slight red push which gives the gore a beautiful deep crimson, though the other primaries hold their own with greens and blues showing no signs of wash or bleed. Check out the set lighting in the dungeon, wonderfully rich greens and reds clearly inspired by Argento.
A bright detailed image exhibiting depth and vibrancy.
Brightness and contrast are set to give very decent blacks, well very deep grey, that adds a good sense of depth to the image without crushing and maintaining a little shadow detail when required. At the other end whites never clip and show good detail as well.
Digitally there are no compression issues or edge enhancement. We spotted no banding or posterization either. The original print is in very good nick, having cleaned up very well, holding a good sheen of grain and only the odd speck of damage. This does come with the proviso of a couple of the unrated scenes exhibiting a prodigious drop in quality in terms of damage and colour reproduction; This, however, is a function of the original print used for the transfer which despite the excellent work done was unable to match these particular elements. On the whole, though, this is a wonderful clean up.
Sound QualityJust the one: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo. Just like the picture the sound has had a thorough clean up from the best surviving elements as well; and the result is pretty good. It is clean and clear with dialogue sounding very natural and well layered into the mix. The score makes good use of the stereo and is also well layered. Effects, especially in the visual effects heavy climax, come thick and fast with a good central visualisation. Bass is delivered well, grounding everything nicely, while LF effects, themselves, remain somewhat limited. The bad, however, is that it is quite a quiet track, requiring a little volume adjustment to get the best out of it – this is a clean up effect as anything higher resulted in distortion issues. What this means in actuality is the track exhibits a lack of any high fidelity range, i.e. it sounds a little bit ‘thick’ (as if the ‘tone’ is too low). It is not that bad and you most probably won’t notice once the volume is turned up. There is still a slight hiss, but all other damage is absent. In all, the track serves the visuals very well.
ExtrasAudio commentary – Brand new for this release with director Brian Yuzna (and a moderator) in which he regales us with his memories of the film.
Audio commentary – Legacy chat, this time with Brian Yuzna, star Jeffrey Combs, special effects co-ordinator Thomas Rainone and the effects team including John Buechler, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George which goes into minute detail about the production.
Audio commentary – Another legacy this time with stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott who have great fun talking about their time on the picture.
Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator – Brand new 10 minute featurette in which the director looks back at the making of the first Re-Animator sequel, its genesis, conception, original ideas and short production which resulted in script difficulties.
Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator – Another brand new 15 minute FX featurette with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin and John Buechler discussing the various ‘gags’ they respectively made for the film.
Getting Ahead in Horror – An archive 20 minute making-of featurette coving similar ground only this time uses behind the scenes VHS tape recordings produced during filming, edited in such a way as to produce a ‘coherent’ documentary.
Meg is Re-Animated – Deleted scene (less than VHS quality) that also contains plenty of the same behind-the-scenes type footage as above.
Carnival Sequence – The cast and crew discuss this excised sequence to still images.
Collector’s booklet – Featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth as well as restoration details.
Limited Edition Exclusive material
R-Rated Version of Film
Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator – Perfect-bound booklet containing Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator, the 1992 comic prequel to Stuart Gordon’s original Re-Animator, reprinted in its entirety
Blu-ray VerdictBrian Yuzna’s Bride of Re-animator is the first sequel to the Stuart Gordon’s uniformly adored Re-animator. Filmed some four years later, re-uniting cast members, taking the inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s original story and James Whales’ Bride of Frankenstein (1935), filling the runtime with as many effects and as much gore as possible the film had an awful lot going for it, as well as an awful lot to live up to. Unfortunately, the finished product is somewhat incoherent in terms of story, narrative and character motivations and that tends to leave the film wanting. What it more than makes up for, though, is the amount of splatter, which is just awesome, even if ultimately there are little to no consequences for its action.
The film had an awful lot going for it, as well as an awful lot to live up to.
Arrows Limited Edition set is terrific, not only are there the two available versions of the film (R-rated and Unrated) but both have been thoroughly remastered from the best surviving elements meaning the picture has never looked better in terms of detail, colouring and black levels. (The Unrated version does contain a number of scenes of reduced quality due to the surviving print elements being unable to restore). The sound too has had a good clean up and even though it is quite a quiet track (again due to limitations in the source material) it is nevertheless clean, clear and vibrant. The extras package not only includes previously released material but also has two new documentaries and a new director commentary – not to mention the usual booklet and a Limited Edition comic-book. Excellent stuff, once again Arrow!
You can buy Bride of Re-Animator on Blu-ray here
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