Bride of Re-Animator (1989)

bride1.png2016.32: Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray)

Disappointing. It has to be said. For all the nods to humour this film is vastly inferior to the anarchic comedy of Dan O’Bannon’s wonderful zombie-fest The Return Of The Living Dead, and as an horror film, well, its an awful excuse for Lovecraftian horror (much prefer Dagon, for instance). Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood? I think for these horror/comedies, mood might be everything.

Well, to be fair I have always had a love/hate thing for these Lovecraft films anyway. I mean, you have to ignore the name Lovecraft and his stories immediately- the very last thing you could say of Lovecraft is that his stories were funny. These films really just use his name as a hook and selling-point. This failure to be sincere to Lovecraft is also true of the first Re-Animator film and From Beyond, but both films are much better than this film, if only because they seem more balanced, confident in what they are.

I’m not sure what Bride of Re-Animator was exactly aiming at. Partly it’s a direct follow-on from the first film, and seems to actually feature content from a few chapters of Lovecrafts Herbert West story,  but beyond that it seems to be more a nod towards Hammer’s Frankenstein films starring Peter Cushing and also the William Castle and Roger Corman horror pictures. Is it, after all, more a Frankenstein film than a Re-Animator?

I think it ultimately spreads itself too thin and tries to be too many things- certainly there seems to be several plots running through the film either leaving it confused or deliriously wild, depending on your point of view. Personally I’m of the former opinion. There’s just too many threads running- at least The Return Of The LIving Dead knew what story it was telling and stuck to it with its core characters.

Maybe the problem making a second Re-Animator film was deciding what it was that made the first film so popular. Was it the gore? The humour? The OTT characters? Maybe they just weren’t certain which approach to take and sort of tried to do everything. Certainly the gore-hounds are well served here; some of the stuff is beyond graphic.

I suppose some of the problem is the low budget, as it obviously curtails what can be done and the acting talent available (some of the acting is beyond terrible, although Jeffrey Combs is as usual in fine form). The make-up effects work is very good though, and there is an obvious ambition here to raise these effects above the norm. The titular bride may be somewhat wasted but her design and execution is excellent- if only she could have appeared in one of those Hammer films, at least they were horror films, for all their own inherent flaws.

I’m sure this film has its fans though. Maybe I will warm to its gory low-budget ‘eighties charms on subsequent viewings. But right now I’d much rather rewatch Return Of The Living Dead.

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