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Bride of Re-Animator Reviews

As lovers of 1985's delicious RE-ANIMATOR will remember, young medical students Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), an idealist obsessed with saving lives, and Herbert West (Jeffrey Coombs), a much sicker individual, had been experimenting with a reanimating fluid that could bring the dead back to life. The problem was that every corpse the duo experimented on was transformed into a horrible maddened zombie. This fate had befallen, among others, a sleazy teacher, Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), who kidnapped Cain's girlfriend after he'd been decapitated. After a zombie massacre in the hospital, she died, and Cain injected her with the fluid to bring her back. THE BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR picks up their story eight months later, with Cain and West volunteering in a Peruvian civil war, but using the corpses for their ongoing experiments. As it gets too dangerous, they head back up to the original hospital. Police Lieutenant Leslie Chapham (Claude Earl Jones) is investigating the earlier massacre, eager to clear the name of his wife, one of the three zombies, currently in the psycho ward, held responsible for the murders. Meanwhile, Dr. Wilbur Graves (Mel Stewart) has been examining the bodies from the massacre--and studying some leftover reanimating fluid. He tries it on a dead bat, which attacks him, so he cuts its wings off. Cain wants out of the experiments, but West convinces him that they can rebuild his dead girlfriend (the fluid's effect didn't last) using her heart. While Cain and West continue to steal bodies from the hospital, Graves brings Hill's head back to life. Cain meets up with beautiful Francesca Danelli (Fabiana Udenio), whom he knew in Peru, and they get together, despite West's jealousy. Chapham sneaks into the guys' house, and West poisons him, then tries the fluid on Chapham's heart, to see if it'll work on the dead woman's. But Chapham turns into the same old kind of nasty zombie and runs off. Meanwhile, Gloria (Kathleen Kinmont), a beloved patient of Cain's, dies, and West realizes he now has all the perfect body parts to build a mate for Cain. Graves, annoyed with Hill's personality, throws the head out, but somehow it gets together with Chapham, who attaches the bat's wings to it, creating a mobile head. It, Chapham and the three psycho zombies all arrive at the students' house on the thundery night that Gloria is to be injected. As they attack, she comes to life, falling instantly in love with Cain, who's torn but prefers Francesca. Rejected, Gloria erupts into the separate parts she was made from, as the zombies and West's many other experiments attack and destroy the laboratory, with only Cain and Francesca getting out. Very few movies have ever merged horror and comedy as well as Stuart Gordon's wonderful RE-ANIMATOR, based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story, "Herbert West - Re-animator." Lots of movies have combined both elements, but it's rare that they flow naturally from one to the other, never seeming forced or gratuitous. Of course, the masterpiece of them all is James Whale's great 1935 BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and it only seems natural that RE-ANIMATOR, itself a Frankenstein update, would want to proceed in the same direction. Sadly, THE BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR doesn't work nearly as well. It begins promisingly, with the material in Peru as darkly funny as anything in the original, and the oncoming battle makes the medical tent a frightening place. It even holds on for a while once Cain and West head north. But the movie has the problem of most sequels. It can't come up with any really great plot points that weren't covered in the original, so it rehashes them to a boring degree. By the time of the finale, the story seems to have been forgotten, and the movie has just turned into a tour de force for the special effects department. The movie almost seems the same as the Bride herself--begun with all the correct parts, but eventually self-destructing. Before it falls apart, however, THE BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR does still have time for a number of clever, outrageous bits. (It's hard to compare director Yuzna to the original's Stuart Gordon. But part of that difficulty is in Yuzna's fine duplication of Gordon's style.) While the psycho zombies seem completely gratuitous, Gale is still as perfect as he was in the first film, and the bat wings idea is inspired. Abbott is given the thankless task of dully vacillating on his ideals throughout the film, but Coombs, if anything, shines even more in this one. His beady-eyed psychotic nerd is a glorious character, rude to all, and exuding paranoid jealousy over Abbott. Hopefully, he can now elaborate on this wonderful screen presence in some more films. Many more. (Extreme violence, substance abuse, sexual situations, nudity.)