Bride Of Re-Animator

Bride Of Re-Animator (1989)
Pioneer Entertainment
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, David Gale
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Deleted Scenes, Documentary, Image Galleries

It doesn’t happen too often that a sequel to a good film turns out to be even better, and I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised when I got to see "Bride Of Re-Animator" on this DVD from Pioneer. I greatly enjoyed Stuart Gordon’s original "Re-Animator", and I thought it was a great story, completely over-the-edge and off-the wall, with a great cast. Especially main actor Jeffrey Combs convinced, and it contained many elements that made the film a gory horror fun ride par excellence. Can you exceed this classic movie? I was a little skeptic when I inserted "Bride Of Re-Animator" but found that it was as good, if not better than the original. It is a congenial mix of gory horror and block humor, delivered through well-written dialogues that are superbly delivered by the cast. The occasional nod at a number horror classics like "Bride Of Frankenstein" ultimately make the film even better, masterfully conjuring up sardonically humorous visions of the classic in the viewer’s mind.

"Bride Of Re-Animator" takes place shortly after the original "Re-Animator" and brings back a number of the remaining key players. Despite the tragic failures in the first film Herbert West (Jeffery Combs) is still obsessed with the thought of creating life from dead tissue. But instead of re-animating the recently deceased, he is now following the trail of creating new life. He is collecting individual body parts to animate them with his glowing elixir. Over time he has refined the mixture and the recipe and he feels the time is right to now try to reanimate a complete body as the ultimate proof of his theories.

Together with his roommate, Dr. Cain (Bruce Abbott), he has set up a laboratory in their house – an abandoned funeral home – and they continually steal body parts from the hospital’s crematorium for their use. They are preparing the resurrection of a human being that, among other selective body parts, carries the heart of Dr. Cain’s dead girlfriend.

Everything seems to go well, until a police detective is starting to stick his nose into their matters. However, Herbert West always knows how to rid himself of unwanted opponents of his science and disposes of the cop before he can bring his secret to the light of day. As a re-animated zombie the detective suddenly listens to a different power! The unbeheaded and tormented Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) from the first movie returns and commands a small legion of undead to break down on Herbert West for Hill’s ultimate revenge. Very much like the original "Re-Animator", this sequel is filled with outrageously humorous and horrific elements. It is not a really campy movie and it is not a spoof either. It is a morbid and sometimes abstruse story of obsession to the point of insanity, and as a result of this scenario we get to witness hair-raising argumentation, experiments and procedures that appear completely rational to the film’s characters but not to the viewer. Jeffrey Combs is phenomenal in his part as Herbert West once again. Nerdy, frantic and incredibly menacing at times, Combs is simply perfect in the part, and his portrayal carries most of the film. After all, it is him who has to carry the serious face throughout, making us believe that he is completely convinced that what he is doing can actually work.

Pioneer Entertainment’s release of "Bride Of Re-Animator" contains two separate versions of the film. The 96-minute long R-rated cut, as well as the 97-minute unrated version on the disc’s second side. Both transfers look absolutely beautiful with a sharp transfer and bold colors. The transfers are very clean, exhibiting practically no film defects. Film grain or noise is also at a minimum, creating the basis for this great DVD presentation. The image quality on this DVD transfer is also very good, with deep, solid blacks that maintain a good level of detail, even in the film’s shadows. Color reproduction is very good with strong colors and hues that never appear over-saturated. Color delineation is also very good without bleeding or <$chroma,chroma noise> evident in the transfer.

The release contains a 2-channel Dolby Stereo track that is also well produced and sounds rich with a great frequency response. The bass response of the audio track is very good, especially considering that it does not contain dedicated sub-bass information, while the brilliance is also impressive, no doubt in part due to the disc’s increased audio encoding bitrate. No language subtitles are supplied on this release.

"Bride Of Re-Animator" features an interesting option, called the "Theatrical Matte Option", which allows you to watch the film either in its <$PS,fullframe> presentation or its <$PS,letterboxed> matted version. Many <$PS,letterboxed> movies are soft-matted, which means that parts of the image are purposely covered with a black matte during the projection in theaters to create a <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio. Through the use of the subtitle sub-picture, Pioneer and Sharpline Arts have been able to create a soft-matte simulation for the DVD which gives you the chance to decide for yourself which version of the film you want to watch. Upon toggling it on and off, you will quickly notice how much more pleasing and better composed the <$PS,letterboxed> version of the film looks. It also shows how the visual impact of the entire film changes dramatically through the matting. All the additional information in the <$PS,fullframe> transfer is practically redundant and actually creates an atmosphere that is not nearly as dark and oppressive as the matted variation. I really like this soft-matte option and think it is a great addition to this release. Like Columbia’s subtitle use for video <$commentary,commentary track>s, this Theatrical Matte Option is a really inventive use of the format’s capabilities and I hope the folks at Sharpline Arts will be given more opportunities to bring their ideas to life.

Apart from this feature there are also a number of other supplements on the disc, starting with two separate audio <$commentary,commentary track>s that are available for the movie’s R-rated version. The first one features actors Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott, talking about their experiences while shooting the film. As expected, the track is intriguing, engaging and witty. The disc’s second <$commentary,audio commentary> is with director Brian Yuzna, actor Jeffrey Combs and a large number of other people from the crew.
This is a commentary chock full with information and production details and should not be missed by any fan of the movie, of by anyone interested in the film’s special effects. There are also a number of deleted scenes, and some behind-the-scenes footage including rehearsals, bloopers and more. A featurette that talks about the practical special effects and make-up effects of the movie also highlights some of the movie magic of this film, as well as a number of picture galleries and the movie’s trailer.

All in all, "Bride Of Re-Animator" is a great release and will certainly have every gore fans’ heart racing. The film itself is carrying the trademarks we have all learned to love in the original "Re-Animator" and it gives the story a few new spins. The production values are higher than in the original film and the result is yet another horror cult classic that should not be missed. Pioneer’s DVD release is a great special edition that contains a large number of informative, interesting and entertaining extras and gives you the chance to experience the film in a variety of versions. Combined with the disc’s very good quality, this release is a must for all fans of gory, yet stylish horror!