It was such a long time since I saw Bride of Re-Animator the only thing I could remember was a weird little creature cobbled together by a couple of fingers and an eyeball. But what a memory! I also remember it to be a on a very bad VHS bootleg, complete with faded colors and tape damage. No wonder I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would! But time flies by and a couple of weeks I stood there at Weekend of Horrors holding the mediabook special edition blu-ray in my hand, and I just couldn’t stop myself.
It starts a while after the terrible tragedy in the first movie, and our good doctors West (Jeffrey Combs, who else?!) and Cain (Bruce Abbott, who else?!) continues their work on the battlefield, where bodies are easy to find. After a serious attack on their tent they head back for Arkham and manages - believe it or not - to get back their old jobs! West continues his bizarre experiments in the basement, obsessed by the idea that it’s possible to connect different body parts to each other and make them come alive by themselves! And soon the green shit hits the fan again!
Between us two, I’ve never been such a big fan of the first movie. It’s a great movie and an important part of the 80’s, but I’ve always thought it lack a good pacing. But I own it and have seen it many times over years, of course, and it surprises me I actually think the sequel to be a tiny bit better, mostly because of Brian Yuzna’s trademark fetisch for body horror.
But isn't it odd it never had the same fanbase as the first one? In some parts it’s actually even more bizarre and far-out than the original, but incorporate this with a more mainstream atmosphere. Maybe the first one was something new, and this one isn’t of course? I don’t know, but somehow I think the slicker appearance of this one, the more or less better special effects and insane make-up magic, also makes it a better movie!
Still, the lack of the uneven insanity present in the first one makes this one a bit more pale. I understand that, but remember I’m one of those fuckers who love mainstream DTV thrillers from the 90’s, which more or less is the essence of non-controversial mainstream. I like that safe way of filmmaking, without going too far to nothingness. Here Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott feels a bit more secure in their parts and there’s a fine array of character actors like Claude Earl Jones and Mel Stewart helping the story forward (and yes, David Gale is of course back as the head of doctor Carl Hill!). The gore might not be more excessive than the first, but the special effects goes a couple of steps forward to the world of bizarreness. What Yuzna and special effects genius Screaming Mad George does remind me of what they did in the same years Society (which might be Yuzna’s finest work as director), with bodies coming together like new creatures, almost like surreal art.
When Stuart Gordon makes movies there’s a darkness over them, something disturbing even if they’re often very funny. Yuzna on the other side always had a problem capturing that darkness, but here he’s near. It’s not on the same level as Society or the criminally underrated Progeny, but not far away. I like how the bodies in Yuzna’s films often just is flesh, sometimes sexual or just animalistic. Primitive. When the the gore and make-up craziness starts off here it’s close to stepping into someone sick, bizarre fantasy.
It’s a worthy sequel, and compared to Beyond Re-Animator, it still holds up very well.