DATE. MATE. RE-ANIMATE. Steve Johnson is back with a look at Arrow US’s limited edition “Bride of Re-Animator” release. Directed by Brian Yuzna, this sequel to the cult classic features the return of Bruce Abbott, David Gale and, of course, Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West.
A quick synopsis of the film before we dive in:
It is eight years since the Miskatonic massacre. Unperturbed by the disastrous outcome of his previous meddling with the dead, West (again played by Jeffrey Combs) continues his research into the phenomenon of re-animation. Only this time, he plans to create life – starting with the heart of his young protégé Dan’s dearly deceased Meg Halsey. Surely nothing could go wrong.
REVIEW: There are certain films one must see to be considered a true horror fan. “Halloween.” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” “An American Werewolf in London.” I could go on so let’s get to the point. Stuart Gordon’s classic “Re-Animator” should be at or near the top of any self-respecting horror fan’s list. The film is packed to the gills with blood, sex and laughs. Do I have your attention yet? Those are some tough shoes to fill. As you can imagine, when its sequel, “Bride of Re-Animator,” was announced there was some trepidation among the horror community. To say Brian Yuzna and company put those fears to bed would be an understatement.
“Bride of Re-Animator” begins by bringing us up to speed with what Dr. Herbert West and Dr. Dan Cain have been up to since the end of the last film. They find themselves in the middle of a civil war in Peru, with access to plenty of fresh bodies. West moved on from re-animating corpses and is obsessed with creating life out of body parts. Eventually the two find themselves back at Miskatonic University, where their quest to create life sets in motion a series of events that end with disastrous consequences.
Yuzna did a great job continuing the story of West and company. “Bride of Re-Animator” is a near perfect mix of comedy and over the top horror. After rewatching it for the first time in more than a decade, it is clear Yuzna was developing a style that carried over into his later films, including one of my personal favorites “Return of the Living Dead 3.” The ending of “Bride of Re-Animator” has the same energy as ROTLD3 and feels like it belongs in the same universe. The special effects and makeup in this film are amazing. My god, this film made me long for a return to the use of practical effects. You can thank the likes of Screaming Mad George, KNB, and John Buechler for bringing their wizardry to this film. I know what you’re thinking, damn, that’s the dream team of special effects. They are and prove it over and over again throughout the entire 97-minute run time.
This three-disc set includes brand new 2K restorations of the unrated and rated versions of the film. The restorations even received the approval of Yuzna. As you more than likely know, Arrow once again delivers an amazing presentation of the film. The only problem I saw with the picture was with the reinserted gore in the unrated version of the film. It didn’t take away from the experience, but is noticeable. The audio is presented in its original stereo format. It would have been nice to get a new 5.1 mix, as the film could have benefitted from surround sound, but the stereo mix is adequate.
The limited edition set is pieced together by a plethora of special features. See what I did there? One of the most notable contributions is newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin. I’ve been a fan of this guy’s work for a while and this ranks up there with some of his best. Both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the films are included in the set. The highlight is a limited edition exclusive booklet that contains “Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator,” the 1992 comic prequel to the original film. Arrow US also throws in a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth. Fans of audio commentaries will be pleased, as the set features three commentary tracks. You have access to a new commentary with Yuzna. A second track features stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott. Finally, there is a fantastic commentary with Yuzna, Combs, special effects coordinator Thomas Rainone and the effects team including Buechler, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George. Each film also includes optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.
There are also a few featurettes, including a brand new featurette entitled “Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator.” As you can guess, it covers the director’s thoughts on the film and is a solid addition. The best featurette is “Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator.” This is also brand new and features a large amount of behind the scenes footage and interviews with the special effects crews that brought this gory good time to life. Rounding out these excellent offerings is “Getting Ahead in Horror,” an archive making-of featurette and deleted scenes. Arrow puts a lot of love into their releases and this one is no different. If you would have told me a decade ago that “Bride of Re-Animator” would receive a release like this, I would have laughed. Well done Arrow, well done.
If you are a fan of the original film, this limited edition set is a must buy. Hell, if you are a fan of late ‘80s horror or practical effects you need this one. This film is a damn good time and I am glad it has gotten the attention it deserves. — Steve Johnson, Horror Aficionado
DIRECTOR-APPROVED 3-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restorations of the Unrated and R-Rated versions of the film, approved by director Brian Yuzna
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Digipak packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
• Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by festival programmer Michael Blyth
• Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator – the official comic book prequel to the original Re-Animator
DISC 1 [BLU-RAY] & DISC 2 [DVD] – UNRATED VERSION
• Brand new 2K restoration of the Unrated version
• Brand new audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna
• Audio commentary with Brian Yuzna, star Jeffrey Combs, special effects co-ordinator Thomas Rainone and the effects team including John Buechler, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George
• Audio commentary with stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott
• Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator – brand new featurette in which the director looks back at the making of the first Re-Animator sequel
• Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator – brand new FX featurette with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin and John Buechler
• Getting Ahead in Horror – archive making-of featurette
• Meg is Re-Animated – deleted scene with behind-the-scenes footage
• Carnival Sequence – the cast and crew discuss this excised sequence
DISC 3 [BLU-RAY] – R-RATED VERSION – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
• Brand new 2K restoration of the R-Rated version
• Behind-the-Scenes Reel
‘RE-ANIMATOR: DAWN OF THE RE-ANIMATOR’ – LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE
• Perfect-bound booklet containing Re-Animator: Dawn of the Re-Animator, the 1992 comic prequel to Stuart Gordon’s original Re-Animator, reprinted in its entirety