Bride of Re-Animator

2 out of 5

Directed by: Brian Yuzna

From commentaries and interviews, Brian Yuzna seems like a nice guy, and definitely aware of the kind of cinema – often low-budget schlock – he’s making, but with a “doing the best we can” approach to it that’s admirable. This hasn’t churned out relative masterpieces, necessarily, but there’s a sense of eagerness from behind the camera that allows his works (from what I’ve seen) to exist in this sort of uniquely Brian Yuzna-y class of B movie. So I would be willing to watch anything he’s helmed or produced, though I don’t know how many would make the cut as rewatchable thereafter.

Bride of Re-Animator would seem like it has a high bar to hit, given the original is one of my favorite movies, but I offer the above as full awareness of what I was expecting: a campier, probably a little dumber, perhaps goopier take on Herbert West’s (Jeffrey Combs) adventures. And we do get there in bits and pieces, with a revamped title sequence and Richard Band score setting the stage for a “6 months later” titlecard that shifts West and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) to the middle of a Peruvian civil war to further test and refine the glowing green re-animator stuff. This is already wonderfully soap-opera-y, and when West starts prattling on about some advancements they’ve made, holding up an iguana as proof – note that we, the audience, don’t really know what he’s talking about – it seems like we’ll be in good standing for the flick’s 90 minutes. Unfortunately, a good bulk of what follows moreso adheres to the ‘don’t really know what he’s talking about’ aspect, ambling between sequences very clunkily, and without much rhyme or reason, suggestive of a few different potential Re-Animator sequels that were spliced together in an edit. Things aren’t outlandish enough or they’re simply too vague: it’s not clear what the two doctors are working on, really, and so West’s continual poking and prodding at things seems rather dumb instead of unhinged; and Cain’s role is just to shriek at whatever Herbert does, also rendering his partnership without any in-movie logic. A cop (Claude Earl Jones) who’s come to investigate the events of the first film adds some potential intrigue, but this is another aspect that only matters when the character is on screen; the same goes for another doctor (Mel Stewart) who’s trying his own reagent experiments. We’re always just a step or two away from things clicking into place, and the film does briefly get there when its titular bride appears, the creation of life as opposed to its reanimation being West’s goal – though, again, it’s not clear how or why the majority of his actions preceding this have required this goal being achieved only in the film’s final sequence – as Combs delivers a fantastic speech that finally lands, and the way it twists the knife of Cain’s guilt about matters also finally justifies his behaviors, not to mention some great makeup and hijinx with the bride herself… But then things slink quietly back into the general underwhelming nature of the rest of the movie, despite a big ol’ ending that tries its best to rival that of the original.

The Yuzna earnestness is still there; Bride is very watchable. It just feels like several Re-Animator short films, all with partially completed scripts, haphazardly mushed together, the pieces of which cannot combine for any consistent flow or feeling, and gore and gag effects that, despite a larger budget, seem less impactful than those in the previous movie.