Bride of Re-animator Review
A good sign that you are not enjoying a film is when you find yourself making up your own movie instead. Bored by the lack of invention on screen or the unexceptional presentation of a story, I can find myself rehashing the characters into something more entertaining. Watching Bride of Re-animator, I hit upon the idea of a sitcom starring Herbert West getting into all manner of scrapes as his ostensibly bourgeois existence gets in the way of his ghoulish medical research. Kinda like Terry and June with gore and nudity. Herbert could find himself stuck having tea and custard creams with the vicar whilst his latest abomination made eerie noises in the basement. Or Herbert could experience an on off romance where his efforts to hide the innards and organs in his fridge caused all manner of faux pas.
I hit upon this thought when I realised that the writers of this sequel were using the same devices as Last of the Summer Wine and Keeping Up Appearances to create comic moments or move the rather handicapped plot along. Just imagine Clegg and Compo struggling to get a corpse out of the local pub using all manner of hilarious ploys, or Hyacinth Bouquet held back from her obscene experiments by the social imperative of her doorbell. The last example happens on three occasions in Bride of Re-animator and each time, these corpse fiddlers dutifully go and answer the door. It made me think what it would have added to The Wolf Man if his lunar activities were compromised by a particularly persistent encyclopaedia salesman.
Just think about it, there are a myriad of ways to re-tool any number of horror movies without actually having to consider how to scare anyone or entertain them with anything approaching invention. I am amazed in the current climate of recycled remakes that no one has looked back to Brian Yuzna's second film for a template. Having watched the film through again I think the basic reason why it never changed the world is that it is frankly not very good or entertaining. Yuzna had already directed the wonderful Society using the same writers and the effects wizard, Screaming Mad George, but his second film lacks the intelligence or wit of his début and reeks of cash in.
The incredulous story has West and Dan re-employed at Miskatonic hospital, the scene of their earlier massacre, and moving on to trying to build a mate for Dan from spare parts. Dr Hill is back as he never really died and, eight months later, the cadaverous remnants of the first film are still lying around in the morgue like some discarded filing. Alotta Fagina turns up as a love interest and to call her performance wooden would give a mistaken sense of the natural to her acting, it's much more like MDF than anything that ever lived or grew. Combs is West again and no one has written him any lines, and Bruce Abbott wanders around like a gullible hairdo in loafers. There is no sense of unified atmosphere and Yuzna gets the tempo all wrong in the drama with both editing and shot duration. It briefly livens up when the effects get used for the hybrid monsters at the end, but it all ends with a whimper.
Watch Yuzna's Society, or the original, instead of dreaming up better films than this one.
Tartan are re-issuing the film as a low price disc on a single layer and possessing the original transfer. The transfer is awful. Muddy, blurry, washed out, soft and looking a lot like a VCR port. The contrast is poor with the white on black opening titles looking like they were smeared on the screen, and the colours are way off in terms of flesh tones with blues and yellows muted. There is aliasing and enough motion shake to suggest a standards conversion as well. The sound is dull and lacks life, and seems to be off in terms of synching at the beginning of the movie. The film was recorded in "ultra stereo" but this track does not have much dimension or depth in it. Overall the A/V quality is not unlike an average bootleg.
The disc comes with an animated menu which is scored by Richard Band's music and a six minute teaser for Phantom Carriage which is coming out on the same day and looks much more entertaining. The only other extra is a trailer for the film.
Tartan reissue this disc and fail to breathe new life into a poor film and a ropey presentation.