Year 1991
Studio Wild Street Pictures

Brian Yuzna

Hidetaka Konno

Keith Walles

Paul White

Director Brian Yuzna
Writer Rick Fry, Keith Woody
Music Richard Band

Bruce Abbot

Jeffrey Combs

Length 90 mins

Bride of Re-animator

‘‘ Make a note of it Dan... tissue rejection! ’’

bride pictureThat "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 serial story.

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 West—Reanimator" (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 iguanas—or 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.

Back 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, who—in an oddly heart-felt moment—pulls 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 abominations."

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.