FearTASTIC Vault O’FUN #42
Bride of Re – Animator (1989)
Director(s): Brian Yuzna
Writer(s): Brian Yuzna, Rick Fry, Woody Keith, H.P. Lovecraft (characters)
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbot, David Gale, Kathleen Kinmont
Let’s get this out of my system before we start the LOVE on this fantastic flick:
Jeffrey Mother F*CKIN’ Combs!
You read about my love for this actor and his character Dr. Herbert West HERE
Caught up? Fantastic! This is the sequel that does what all good sequels should do; escalating the themes from the first flick. In horror movies however, the “good” themes of the first flick are highly debatable because the reasons why we enjoy horror flicks can be very subjective. Let’s put it this way; no watching Love Actually is going to expect highly choreographed action sequences or any sort of suspense. Horror flicks however have a wide net of entertainment. The great ones can make you jump, sweat, laugh, cheer, think and vomit all in the same viewing. A sequel that elevates a theme can be somewhat debatable on the theme itself. For every horror freak fan boy that demanded more scares, you have two more that wished they upped the comedy. Horror sequels throughout its history focus on a theme (or seven) they enjoyed from the original and try their best to capture the same magic but turn up the volume to 11 and it’s our duty as fans to give it a chance and roll the dice to see if our theme was the one that was chosen to be elevated.
For me, Bride of Re – Animator hit the mark with what I enjoyed from the first film. Let’s be VERY clear; this sequel does not try to be as “scary” as the first flick. There were elements of the first movie that attempted to be realistic and it worked really well as everything eventually begin to go ape sh*t for our two main characters, Dr. Herbert West and his insanely patient friend, Dr. Dan Cain. Their pursuit for perfecting the elixir of re-animation led to the creation of monsters, the rise of an archenemy and of course, **SPOILER** the loss of true love. In the midst of the all the gruesome violence and gore, there was an element of comedy that really shined through with the two main characters which was almost a horror version of the Odd Couple where one is pretty quirky while the other is more straight – laced and trying to get through another day.
The sequel centers on the theme of our two doctors still pursuing the formula of life, this time however, the involvement of the not – so – insane Dr. Cain has more meat on the motive. Dr. West has dangled the idea of bringing back his lost love from the first movie in return for his services. Of course, any bleeding romantic would help a sociopathic mad doctor, right? Another great gem that this sequel brought back was the arch villain from the first flick, Doctor Carl Hill! From last we saw him; he was a re-animated head who became a central villain in trying to kill our main characters and at the same time getting some nookie (yeah, totally used that word) from Dr. Cain’s main squeeze (in quite a disturbing but fun scene). This time, he’s recruiting folks to begin to assemble his army of the re – animated! He even goes as far as finding new ways to become mobile because being just a head didn’t quite cut it for him, I suppose.
In the midst of all the villainy and re – animating, there is a love story between Dr. Cain and his new interest, Gloria but like all things in his life at this point, the formula of re – animation throws a devastating curve ball to his chances and brings about a tragic friendship that was doomed from the start with Dr. Cain realizing the Herbert West is only focused on his own goals (which should have been apparent in the first flick).
This sequel elevates the theme of friendship, humor, villainy and even managed to throw in a halfway decent love story to the point where you really start to feel bad for Dr. Cain which is already quite an achievement for any horror flick. I’m sure there are plenty of horror freaks that miss elements from the first film but for me, this entry to the FearTASTIC Vault hit all the right notes like a fine wine and is an enjoyable watch for anyone who likes to watch science bring about DOOM.
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.