"cursed, little tow-head fiend," Herbert West of Arkham's
Miskatonic Medical School, is back in a sequel to the surprise
horror hit of 1985, Re-Animator. Jeffery Combs reprises the
role of Herbert, but this time the film is directed by Re-Animator's
producer, Brian Yuzna. Bride of Re-Animator not only tries
to pick up where Re-Animator left off, it also goes back to
plumb the well of unused source material found in HPL's gruesome
The sequel begins eight months after the Miskatonic Massacre
when we find Herbert West (looking healthy, considering that
last we saw he was being squeezed to death by a reanimated
large intestine) and Daniel Cain (reprised by Bruce Abbot)
as medics in the middle of a bloody Peruvian civil war. It
is almost a direct adaptation of the fifth installment of
"Herbert WestReanimator" (called "The Horror From The
Shadows") in which our "ice-cold intellectual machine" is
a World War I Major attending to the wounded on the killing
fields of Flanders.
In the film, as in the original story, Herbert is on the
battlefield for the ultra-fresh dead needed for his reanimation
experiments. The film deviates from West's original obsession
of reanimation and takes on more of Frankenstein, as he attempts
to create new life by reanimating random assemblies of body
parts. West accomplishes this by using an extract made from
iguanasor as Lovecraft imagined it, reptile embryos,
because they are "better than human material for maintaining
life in organless fragments."
War bursts through the canvas walls of the field hospital,
prompting West and Cain to leave their work and return to
the relative safety of Arkham and its morgues.
in Arkham, Police Detective Leslie Chapman, played by Claude
Earl Jones, is still investigating the Miskatonic Massacre
and presents the hospital's pathologist, Dr. Wilbur Graves,
with . . . the decapitated head of Dr. Hill! (A neat trick,
since it was crushed like a grape and smashed against a wall
in the gory finale of Re-Animator.)
Later that day, while picking through body parts in hospital
storage, West stumbles onto the plastic-wrapped Hill-head
and taunts his former enemy. "Look at you now," drools West,
"you're nothing but a dead head." But the Hill-head isn't
quite dead yet. At this point the screenwriters had to really
put their heads together to get around a sticky problem: how
is the living head of Dr. Hill going to get around? After
all, he doesn't have a body anymore. Their solution? Have
Dr. Graves graft reanimated bat wings on the Hill-head! This,
of course, gives the Hill-head a more mobile vantage point
from which to control his new reanimated army as he seeks
revenge on Herbert.
Meanwhile, West and Cain put together their collected body
parts to create the ultimate woman . . . the Bride. Meg Halsey,
Cain's dead girlfriend from the first film, plays a key part
. . . as the Bride's heart! There's also some excellent black
comedy along the way as West randomly combines body parts
to form the wonderfully silly severed-fingers-with-eye creature.
After much work, the boys are ready to reanimate the Bride.
In their basement lab the re-agent is injected by Dan into
his dead lover's heart. As he waits for a sign of life, West
hears the doorbell ring and finds a wooden crate on the front
steps, a box holding the bat-winged head of Dr. Hill.
Down in the lab the Bride comes to life, aping the classic
and creepy cat-like movements of Elsa Lanchester in Bride
of Frankenstein, whoin an oddly heart-felt momentpulls
out her heart (or rather, Meg's) and offers it back to Dan,
who has just jilted her. "Make a note of it, Dan!" the ever-observant
West screams, "Tissue rejection!"
The film reaches its gran guignol climax as the reanimated
rejects "headed" by the flying bat-winged Hill-head all spring
on West, tearing him to pieces. "Bearing the fragments away,"
as Lovecraft wrote, "into that subterranean vault of fabulous
Was Lovecraft setting up a sequel to "Herbert West"? Was
he planning to re-assemble the torn pieces? A Son of Re-Animator
perhaps? Actually, there was talk of Yuzna doing something
called Beyond Re-Animator but alas, (or thank God?) that film
was not to be, for Brian's next foray into Lovecraft territory
was a three-story anthology called Necronomicon.
Bride of Re-Animator is a silly film that is fun solely
for the fevered performance of Jeffrey Combs. Unlike the original
Re-Animator, Bride's script really suffers from a lack of
cohesiveness and indeterminable character motivation. Perhaps,
as in the Highlander series, there should have been only one!
But anything that has our old buddy Herbert West reanimating
dead flesh can't be all bad.