Sunday, 10 April 2016



Maybe I'm just getting old but it sometimes seems the BBFC are getting absurdly lenient these days, to the extent that almost every release feels a category too low. Only last week there was Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, boasting a level of physical violence and CGI monster horror that was clearly unsuitable for twelve-year-olds (or indeed anyone else); a few days later a reissue of Brian Yuzna's gore- and offal-drenched first Re-Animator sequel drops through the door and incredibly it's been downgraded to a 15. Sadly that's the biggest surprise on offer: for all the monster mayhem and wild zombie action Bride Of Re-Animator is ultimately as big a mess and a disappointment as it was back in 1990. Where Stuart Gordon's original was a tightly focussed, stripped down exploitation movie, this follow up veers wildly all over the place and doesn't actually make very much sense.

After the events of the first film, square-jawed Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) and definitive mad scientist Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) have legged it to Peru where they've served as medics for the revolutionary army. For Cain it's presumably a chance to forget his beloved Meg and atone for his part in the Miskatonic Massacre, for West it's easy access to unlimited body parts and fresh corpses for his continuing experiments into life after death. Somehow they manage not just to get back to Arkham but to get staff jobs at the same hospital: West wastes no time in setting up a new laboratory in the basement of the former gravedigger's house at the local cemetery, Cain falls in love with a terminal patient (Kathleen Kinmont) and a local police lieutenant with a personal grudge (Claude Earl Jones) continues to sniff around the case...

The name of the Diodati Cemetery is the big shout-out to Mary Shelley fans: no longer is West merely concerned with bringing the dead back to life, but creating a new (female) life out of assorted body parts bolted together. It's towards the second half of the film that everything goes completely out of control, as the severed head of Dr Hill (David Gale) returns to telepathically control a trio of zombies, this time flapping around with a bat's wings stitched to his temples, and West's mismatched monsters break out of the crypt next door.

No less than six special effects houses contributed gloopy, albeit spectacular, make-up and animatronic effects here including Screaming Mad George, KNB and John Buechler. The key image is Kinmont's rejected Bride ripping her rejected heart from her chest and offering it to Cain: it's a visually terrific moment but it's rather lost in the climactic chaos. The absence of a music budget also reduces Richard Band's score (which retains its "adaptation" of Bernard Herrmann's Psycho theme) to cheap-sounding synthesisers and samples rather than live musicians.

In addition to the usual selection of behind-the-scenes featurettes, Arrow's 2-disc BluRay set offers both the R-rated and unrated versions of the film, which run for exactly the same length although a cursory comparison suggests the R tones down some of the more outre splatter moments and replaces it with cutaway shots. (Given the choice, why would you watch the milder cut anyway?) While it doesn't match up to the classic original, Bride Of Re-Animator (which was pointlessly retitled Re-Animator 2 on its UK video release back in the days of VHS) is still good fun in its gory, surreal craziness, and Combs' utterly demented Herbert West is a delight. Should still be an 18 though!


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