ride of Re-Animator", the sequel to Stuart
Gordon's 1985 "Re-Animator",
took 5 years to show up -- and truth be told, it needn't bother. The sequel
takes place 8 months after the events of the first, with Mad Scientist Herbert
West (Jeffrey Combs) and his reluctant assistant Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) now in
Peru performing illegal experiments on dead soldiers as a civil war rages
outside their medical tent. We also meet Francesca (Fabiana Udenio), a freedom
fighter or some such. She has a gun and is wearing fatigues and she tells the
boys that the "front line is breaking up" or something along that
line, so you figure it out.
The boys fly back home, back to Miskatonic hospital, where
they spend their time as doctors by day and Mad Scientists by night. Home is a
renovated house in the cemetery, which makes sense considering the latest sequel
Re-Animator" opened with re-animated corpses from a nearby cemetery
killing the locals. Dan is still reluctant to continue the experiments, but West
convinces him to keep at it. This time around West has plans not just to
re-animate corpses, but also to stitch body parts together and create a
completely new life. Unfortunately for the boys, cop Claude Earl Jones is
snooping around, and he has an axe to grind with West et al.
"Bride" was directed by Brian Yuzna, who was
producer on the original. If you've read my reviews of Yuzna's previous works
("Faust: Love of the
Damned" being one of them) you know that I am not a big fan of the
man's work. I find his "style" to be amateurish and prone to
unreasonable indulgence in gore for the sake of gore. Also, there is always a
touch of trash to his film that doesn't always appeal to me. With
"Bride", Yuzna's second directorial effort, I remain unimpressed with
his storytelling ability, as well as his childish preoccupation with all things
Which isn't to say "Bride" is a total loss.
Jeffrey Combs once again chews scenery like a pro, only now there's a strange
homoerotic undercurrent to West's preoccupation with Dan's personal life. At one
point in the film, Combs fumes in the basement as Dan is upstairs having sex
with Francesca. In any case, Combs spits out his line with machine-like
efficiency, using that now familiar deadpan delivery that makes him such a
unique actor. Bruce Abbott still looks confused, which isn't a surprise because
his character is pretty confused. Dan is written as reluctant, and yet 8
months later he's still working -- and living! -- with West. This guy really has
a lot of trouble making up his mind.
The screenwriters have also neglected to put much effort
into Francesca. The first time we see her she's a freedom fighter in Peru, but
she inexplicably shows up later at Dan's hospital, claiming to be Italian. What?
Also, how does someone just walk away from a civil war in Central America and
return to normal life as if nothing had happened? Francesca's sunny personality
seems more appropriate for an airhead college student, not an ex-freedom
fighter. She sure doesn't seem to remember that she was fighting a bloody
guerilla war just 8 months ago, that's for sure.
Aside from the West and Cain characters, everyone else is
pretty much incidental to the movie. Including Jones, whose Colombo-ish cop is
revealed to have a dark secret, although why that should matter figures more
into Yuzna's perverse sense of the world than anything relevant. David Gale
returns as the villain of the piece, this time sans body, although the Evil Mad
Scientist (with West being just the Mad Mad Scientist, I suppose) eventually
gets to move around by himself -- with the aid of bat wings! The whole thing
ends with a Zombies Attack sequence that has its moments, but for the most part
comes across as blah -- or, actually, nothing more than a remake of the first
Without Combs, "Bride of Re-Animator" would be
nothing more than an exercise in low-budget wackiness, with some lame attempts
at comedy. Gale's return as Carl Hill really doesn't do much for the film -- the
character is barely in it anyway until the very end, and his return seems oddly
uninspired. The same is true of the perfunctory (and completely nonsensical)
relationship between Dan and Francesca. Kathleen Kinmont, the former Mrs.
Lorenzo Lamas, plays the titular Bride of Re-Animator, but strangely the
character really has little to do until almost the very end.
"Bride of Re-Animator" is obviously a joke, and
nothing proves this theory more than the entire Third Act, which takes an odd
turn and becomes a bad parody of "Bride
of Frankenstein" -- or to be more precise, a parody of the 1985 remake
Bride" with Sting. Dan even somehow ends up in one of those white puffy
shirts. The set-up involving the Bride isn't very interesting, I must say. In
fact, much of "Bride" isn't very interesting, as if Yuzna and company
really had no idea where to take the series. A sequel for the sake of a sequel?
I'm shocked! This may also explain why none of the filmmakers from the original
returned for an encore.
"Bride" is lackluster, and if not for the
presence of Combs, the whole thing could have been disastrous. As it stands,
it's still not very good.