Bride of Re-Animator [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (2nd July 2018).
The Film

"Bride of Re-Animator" (1989) / "Beyond Re-Animator" (2003)

Following the fan favorite "Re-Animator" in 1984, first time film director Stuart Gordon and first time film producer Brian Yuzna's careers were quickly on the rise for projects. The two collaborated again in the horror genre with 1986's "From Beyond" - another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation and on 1987's "Dolls" which were not immediate hits critically or financially. They turned to a new direction in 1989 - on a family-friendly project. Working with none other than Walt Disney Pictures to produce "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", the original story by Gordon and Yuzna was initially prepared with Gordon directing and Yuzna producing as usual, but due to illness Gordon has to step out of the director's chair after much was already prepped. The film was a huge success grossing over $200 million worldwide and becoming one of the highest grossing films of 1989 - just ahead "Back to the Future Part II" and "Ghostbusters II". In 1989 it was also time to revive the one that started it all - with the telling of Herbert West and Dan Cain following the massacre that was the climax of the 1985 film.

"Bride of Re-Animator" (1989)

Eight months after the events of the first film, Dr. Herbert West (played by Jeffrey Combs) and Dr. Dan Cain (played by Bruce Abbott) return to their jobs at Miskatonic University Hospital after working in the Peruvian jungles as medics in a civil war. Able to experiment and refine the reanimating fluid with the array of corpses during their stint in the south, West's next big idea is to create new life from body parts, and not just reviving a corpse into a zombified version of their old self. But things may not go as smoothly, as police Lieutenant Chapman (played by Claude Earl Jones is still investigating the hospital massacre from eight months ago with a new discovery - the missing head of Dr. Hill (played by David Gale, who in turn has plans of his own.

Originally there was a subplot of the United States President being re-animated but the idea was scrapped to bring back the main duo of the first film as well as Gale to reprise his role as the head. Even if his head was completely crushed in the first film, why not bring him back? Even if the film is a direct sequel and has much of the dark humor brought back with West's nonchalant one-liners and Dr. Hill's creepiness, the film is one that does not push the gore aspect as expected from the first film. Instead one part that was cranked up the special effects. Not only with practical effects but with bluescreen and digital effects taking the main stage, with the pieced together re-animated body parts, the flying head, the eye-spider, and many other memorable creature effects throughout courtesy of KNB Effects. Stuart Gordon would not return as director but instead the producer of the first film Brian Yuzna would take over directing as well as co-writing and co-producing. Regardless of the change, Yuzna was able to keep the feel and tone of the first film into the sequel, though like most sequels there were some disappointments.

While the film centers on the relationship of West and Cain, the subplot of Dr. Hill revived by Dr. Graves (played by Mel Stewart is not given enough time to grow. There are long stretches during the film where Hill is not seen at all and becomes basically a villain that doesn't seem villainous due to the lack of threat. Cain being torn between his current love Francesca (played by Fabiana Udenio and the memories of the deceased Megan from the first film is also not given enough drama. Flaws aside, the film is a fascinating one that pays tribute to "The Bride of Frankenstein" in theme and in execution, while also going extremely over the top with the humor, the effects, and the insanity.

The film premiered at the Sitges International Film Festival in October 1989 where the first film won an award a few years prior. Playing at a few other festivals around the world, it would eventually get a theatrical release in the UK nearly a year later in July 1990 and another half year later in the US in February of 1991. In many countries the film went direct to video as not enough interest was seen at the time for a sequel to a film more than five years old. Critically the film received some positive notes, but the end result was fairly mixed with the over the top nature and the slightly off pacing. It certainly has received slightly better reception in retrospect as sequels go, but that wouldn't stop the tales of Dr. West to disappear entirely. But it would be more than another decade until a third film would be produced.

"Beyond Re-Animator" (2003)

After being incarcerated for thirteen years on death row, Dr. Herbert West (played by Jeffrey Combs) finds an unlikely ally - the young new prison doctor Howard Phillips (played by Jason Barry). It was thirteen years ago that Howard saw Dr. West for the first time - arrested at the crime scene where Howard's sister was brutally murdered by a zombified man. Rather than seeking revenge, Howard is intrigued by West's work in re-animation, and wants to collaborate with him in perfecting the re-agent fluid within the prison walls. But with the sadistic warden Brando (played by Simón Andreu) always on the watch, as well as Howard's love interest and journalist Laura (played by Elsa Pataky) becoming suspicious, it will take a few hurdles to have their experiments work.

During the 1990s producer/director Brian Yuzna had ideas for a third story in the "Re-Animator" series, though finding financing and interest would prove difficult. The second film was not much of a hit and slashers/zombie films were on the way out. Yuzna would be involved with low budget genre films as producer and/or director with films such as "The Guyver" (1991), "Return of the Living Dead III" (1993), and others, but none seem to make much of an impact in the new decade. Yuzna would move to Spain where he established Fantastic Factory - an offshoot of Filmax which would dedicate itself to horror films made for the international market, and directors such as Jaume Collet-Serra and Paco Plaza would receive their big breaks with their early works there. With the home video market drastically changing in the early 2000s with DVD reviving cult films of the past to wider audiences, the interest for a third film in the "Re-Animator" series became a possibility and Yuzna decided to revive the series once again, but in mind with the thirteen years since the second film and having West portrayed once again by Jeffrey Combs. Ideas for Bruce Abbott to return as Dan Cain was discussed but having a younger protagonist rather than two middle aged men seemed like a better choice for the new production. And rather than the horrors taking place at a university, a prison was the chosen location for the enclosed environment.

The first "Re-Animator" pushed the limits of gore and dark humor. "Bride of Re-Animator" pushed the special effects. "Beyond Re-Animator" on the other hand didn't push much of anything. Instead it went in a slightly different direction. Mostly a new cast, new environment, toned down the humor, yet still involved intricate gore effects and buckets of blood. "Beyond Re-Animator" is not a terrible film at all, but it is not as inspired as the first two and felt more of a generic prison drama and horror film that did not add much to surprise. In addition there were questionable motives from the characters. One would expect Howard to want to kill Dr. West knowing he was partially responsible for the murder of his older sister, yet he immediately becomes the apprentice under his own wishes. Laura and Howard's relationship escalates so quickly with a date from the day they met that the emotional bond doesn't seem as full as for example Dan's relationships in the first two movies with Megan and Francesca respectively. Combs as Dr. West plays as expected though his character seems a little out of place in tone as his own dark humor is from the heyday of the first two films doesn't quite fit in here.

Again, the third film is not an entire disaster at all. The gore effects work very well and the climax is a wild and insane ride with the prisoners and the re-animated bodies and body parts. The prison set is a fantastic one in design, which they remodeled an abandoned prison in Spain for the production. "Beyond Re-Animator" was made with good intentions and it was creative that the tone and setting was changed, though it may have been too big of a change to keep with the series. The film would receive film festival screenings around the world in 2003 and receiving very few theatrical screenings, with it mostly going direct to video in most countries. Reactions were mixed and seemingly hit another nail on the "Re-Animator" coffin.

In the years since, the "Re-Animator" series has been extremely popular on video, received better and wider recognition, and even inspired a musical adaptation. Is the trilogy finally finished? Will it be revived in another medium? Who knows? The re-agent fluid is always a possibility...

"Bride of Re-Animator" was first released on Blu-ray by Capelight in Germany in followed by Arrow Video in the US and UK releasing their own edition in 2016. "Beyond Re-Animator" makes its Blu-ray debut with this two disc set from Umbrella Entertainment.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray set

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents both versions of "Bride of Re-Animator"in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio in 1080p in the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Both the unrated and R-rated versions have been restored and the results are fairly good though imperfect. For the better part, damage such as specs and cuts have been removed almost entirely leaving a very clean and good looking image, with good color reproduction and depth. The issues come with the gorier images from the unrated cut having a slightly darker and weaker image and is very noticeable when it cuts to the appropriate shots.

The "Unrated Cut" runtime is 96:21 and the "R-Rated Cut" runtime is (96:22).

Umbrella Entertainment presents "Beyond Re-Animator"in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio in 1080p in the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Being the most recent film in the series and made in the 2000s one would expect this to be the best looking film of the bunch, but unfortunately it falls a bit short. It is quite bright overall and darker scenes do not seem as dark as they should be, depth is slightly lacking, and colors are a bit on the inconsistent side. It looks closer to an HD shot movie with minimal grain and a fairly flat appearance, though it was shot on traditional film. Minimal specs and dots are sometimes on screen, and as the film has not received a new transfer.

The film's runtime is 95:55.

Audio

"Bride of Re-Animator" is presented with a English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track. While the film was restored fairly well with the image, the sound on the other hand has some issues. While the audio track has been cleaned to remove pops and cracks, there is an audible hiss that remains whenever a character is speaking and quickly disappears when no one isn't. It's very noticeable and fairly distracting right from the start of the picture. And although it is a stereo track, there is only minor stereo separation with most of the dialogue, music, and effects sounding closer to mono rather than a full stereo track. Unfortunately this is slightly disappointing but note the German Blu-ray release also suffers from the same issues.

"Beyond Re-Animator" is presented with a English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The 5.1 soundscape is quite a full one as it was mixed with a full surround soundscape in mind, though again there are some issues. The dialogue is mostly center based with the music and effects taking up the surrounding channels. Unfortunately for the audio, whenever there are screams and yells the audio starts to crackle noticeably and it happens on multiple instances making a displeasing experience for viewing. During other loud portions there are no other significant issues.

There are optional English subtitles in a white font for both films. For "Bride of Re-Animator" they are available on both cuts of the film, are well timed, and easy to read. For "Beyond Re-Animator" there are some quality control issues with the subtitle track. Some phrases are missing words, are paraphrased to even change the sentence structure, and to make things worse are not well timed. Sometimes the subtitles disappear before the character says the phrase. Sometimes the subtitles appear after the speaker already spoke the line and the next person is already speaking. If anyone wants to follow the movie with subtitles, it is not recommended at all.

Extras

The two disc set has both cuts of "Bride of Re-Animator" on DISC ONE and "Beyond Re-Animator" on DISC TWO, with extras on both discs.


DISC ONE "Bride of Re-Animator"

* The Film (Unrated Cut)
* The Film (R-Rated Cut)

Audio Commentary by Brian Yuzna

In this 2016 commentary track moderated by David Gregory, the director talks about the production, taking over the franchise as director, the reception of the film, and much more.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Audio Commentary by director 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
In this vintage commentary that edits various interviews together, the cast and crew talk about more of the technical aspects of the production.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Audio Commentary by stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott
Another vintage commentary, this one has the two main stars discuss together about the production in a more joking fashion playing off each other.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator" featurette (9:37)
In this interview produced by Severin in 2016, the director of the sequels and producer of the trilogy talks about the project and its changes in story over time, the short window between financing, shooting, and release, as well as the better reception it had over Yuzna's "Society" released the same year.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator" featurette (14:39)
In this featurette produced by Severin in 2016, it collects separately filmed interviews with various crew members of the special effects departments discussing some of the creative effects used for the production. Some behind the scenes footage is also incorporated.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Getting Ahead in Horror" featurette (23:48)
This archival featurette includes behind the scenes footage, pre-production notes and comments from the cast and crew. This is taken from a VHS source and upscaled, so the footage can look a little rough.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Behind the Scenes: Special Effects Artists" featurette (14:27)
Taken from special effects engineer Robert Kurtzman's personal VHS footage, there are more behind the scenes shots on set presented here.
in 1080i 60hz AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Deleted Scenes (10:01)
The first deleted scene is an unfilmed one, with the cast and crew discussing a carnival sequence that was written but never shot. The second is a shot deleted scene of Meg being re-animated, and in addition to the scene there are alternate takes and behind the scenes footage of the scene.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Dark Adventure Radio Presents: "Herbert West: Re-Animator" (71:36)
Produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is a radio drama series made in the similar style of old radio dramas such as the Mercury Theater. Presented here is the 2013 adaptation of "Herbert West: Re-Animator"
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

Trailer (1:51)
The original US trailer is presented.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles


DISC TWO "Beyond Re-Animator"

* The Film

Audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna

This vintage commentary recorded for the initial DVD release is a solo one featuring the director, as he talks about shooting the production in Spain, the technical aspects of the production including converting an abandoned Spanish prison into an "American" looking place, and much more.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"The Making of Beyond Re-Animator" featurette (17:56)
This vintage featurette includes behind the scenes footage, candid interviews with the cast and crew, set designs, storyboards, and a look at some of the special effects . Like many featurettes from the early 2000s, handheld goes on overkill.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1 and 1.78:1, in English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles for the Spanish portions

"Move Your Dead Bones" music video by Dr. Re-Animator (4:13)
An early 2000s Eurodance music video that is as cheesy at it can get with silly dance moves, vocoder effects, and pre-programmed synthesized beats. And the director of this video? None other than the brilliant J.A. Bayona in one of his earliest credits, though not one of his best.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles for the Spanish portions

Interviews (18:08)
The interviews with the cast and crew used for the "Making Of" featurette are presented here extended.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles for the Spanish portions

"Behind the Scenes" featurette (12:24)
Raw behind the scenes footage from the set is presented here.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English/Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles for the Spanish portions

Trailer (1:54)
The original English trailer is presented.
in 720p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles


As stated "Bride of Re-Animator" received a Blu-ray release in Germany by Capelight and by Arrow Video in the US/UK. The Umbrella release collects all the extras from the Arrow release and also adds the radio show found on the German release. The German release also includes an exclusive German podcast. For "Beyond Re-Animator" the older DVD releases worldwide all had some slightly differing extras all around. This Blu-ray does not collect them all, though the provided extras are fairly good, though nothing new has been made.

Packaging

The two discs are packaged in a keep case housed with a slip case. The second in the "Beyond Genres" line, the case is labeled "Volume 2". The Australian rating logo on the cover is actually a sticker on the plastic and can be removed.
The case states "Region B" but this is a region ALL set.

Overall

"Bride of Re-Animator" is a worthy sequel that has some great special effects to accompany the dark humored story. "Beyond Re-Animator" cannot quite surpass the cliches and went in a completely different direction, though it does have some merits. Umbrella Entertainment's two disc set does have some issues with the presentations though the curated extras are quite good - though note nothing exclusive or new have been added.

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: C+ Extras: B Overall: B-

 


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