Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #728
Also known as Re-Animator 2
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: September 8, 1990 (TIFF)
Sub-Genre: Body Horror
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 96 minutes
Director: Brian Yuzna
Producer: Brian Yuzna
Screenplay: Rick Fry, Woody Keith, Brian Yuzna
Based on characters by H. P. Lovecraft
Special Effects: Screaming Mad George, Howard Berger, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, John Carl Buechler
Cinematography: Rick Fichter
Score: Richard Band
Editing: Peter Teschner
Studio: Re-Animator II Productions, Wild Street Pictures
Distributors: 50th Street Films, Arrow Video (Blu-Ray)
Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Claude Earl Jones, Fabiana Udenio, David Gale, Kathleen Kinmont, Mel Stewart, Irene Forrest, Michael Strasser, Mary Sheldon, Marge Turner, Johnny Legend, David Bynum
Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 Richard Band “Re-Animator”
 Imagination “Body Talk”
 Queens of The Stone Age “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret”
 Bananarama “Venus”
If you were to ask me for the year in horror that I cherish most dearly, I would reply 1985 without a solitary pause or stammer. You see, within its twelve month parameters, four titles in particular emerged that rocked this eleven-year old’s socks clean off and tickled every last one of my piglets. George A. Romero finally got around to gifting us the next chapter of his zombie bestseller he’d been teasing us with for years, Day of The Dead, Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of The Living Dead did the seemingly impossible by almost matching it for dead-headed goodness with tongue placed firmly in cheek at all times, Lamberto Bava peddled the ideal gateway drug into Italian cinema courtesy of the irrepressible Demons, and last but by no means least, Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator painted the whole town day-glo green (with splashes of the deepest red of course).
Dr. Herbert West was much more than a simple mad scientist. He was an innovator in the most ghastly sense of the word and his creations were truly a thing of contorted majesty. While his intentions may have been somewhat questionable, you certainly couldn’t fault his work ethic and, in reluctant understudy Dr. Dan Cain, he had himself the ideal whipping boy to mop up the fine mess he made.
Alas, not everyone agreed with his pioneering prowess and bitter colleague Dr. Carl Hill tried his darnedest to throw a wrench in the works and generally cause pandemonium. You could lop off his top box, but Hill would simply shrug his headless shoulders and keep on coming as his intense hatred of West was like Viagra to a randy uncle and he was desperate to foil some plans just because he damn well could.
Then there was poor Megan Halsey, an innocent pawn in West’s game, and the kind of well-rounded cadaver that seemed designed merely to prod, poke and occasionally defile. Necrophilia is just no fun without an adequate level of push and pull and she scrubbed up pretty well considering once that luminous reanimation agent made its intravenous entry. Besides, Hill had a whale of a time bringing fresh meaning to the term “giving her head” and I had a whale of one too back in the observation chamber.
So when it was announced that Herbert West was planning a return, I promptly performed my happy dance and grabbed my mother’s hand lotion expectantly. Regrettably, news soon seeped through the grapevine that Barbara Crampton would not be returning to reprise her role. It wasn’t her fault, apparently her agent considered a bit part beneath her and blocked it like the cock he was.
Worse still, Gordon too declined a comeback and suddenly things were beginning to look mighty precarious for the upcoming sequel. Mercifully, both Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott were prepared to put in another shift at their makeshift ER as was David Gale for nemesis duties, while Gordon’s faithful sidekick Brian Yuzna snapped up the chance to warm his buttocks in the director’s chair. All’s well that ends well right?
On this occasion, I’m thrilled to report that it’s a reasonably resounding yes. You see, moving swiftly on to tell the tale of the Bride of Re-Animator appeared as logical a step as they come and, while never realistically likely to top or even match the original, I’ve always considered “more of the same” hugely underrated. Had it not been Combs sliding in the syringe, then it may have been another story entirely but, thanks to his tireless on-call commitments, we were set for another round of the very best in shock treatment.
“Pure potentiality, the primordial ooze from which life originates”
Eight months have passed since the whole Miskatonic University debacle and, after an exhausting stint as medics tending to casualties of the Peruvian civil war, Dr.’s West and Cain are glad just to get back to the daily grind back at Arkham, Massachusetts. As luck would have it, the university are more than happy to let both men resume their roles, although West’s bedside manner has been known to deviate massively from what is considered good practice.
It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to suss out that their friendship is strained. Cain still hasn’t fully forgiven his unruly associate for indirectly flatlining his fiancée and, to his credit, West is enthusiastic about making it up to his old pal the only way he knows how. Megan may be pushing up daisies, but her heart has every chance of beating again, provided he can find a few suitable donors. I wonder where you’d find yourself a fresh stiff or two.
Well slap my thigh and call me Lesley. As blind fortune would have it, Cain’s favorite patient Gloria (Kathleen Kinmont) is terminally ill and set to expire at any given moment. The two appear to have forged a pretty strong bond which is promising; but let’s speak of the elephant in the ward shall we?
I’ve seen many pairs of bosoms in my time but few quite as primed for reinvention as these wobbling whoppers. The morgue can suck a fuck if they think they’re getting their hands on this particular slab of fresh meat and at least we already have a fair idea the pair will be compatible a nip and a few tucks later.
“The feet of a young ballet dancer, who ended her life when she lost her ambition. These legs… walked the streets. You remember the hooker who was killed in ER by her pimp last week? Think of all the bodies these legs have wrapped around”
Predictably, Cain’s doubts are of the grave and nagging variety and he voices his discord immediately. But as ludicrous as it all sounds on paper, West is admittedly an accomplished surgeon and, if anyone can pull this off, then who better than he to pull the strings and flick that needle. Cain and his bride will be reunited soon enough and, short of some unwanted interference from outside parties, this should prove an absolute doddle.
Of course, there is the small matter of Francesca Danelli (Fabiana Udenio), a journalist Cain met while on active duty in Peru, who has made it abundantly clear that she is gagging to take their friendship to the next level at the first available opportunity. There’s definite sexual chemistry present but she may not take too kindly to the kind of sloppy seconds her lover boy’s proposing.
Meddlesome flatfoot Lt. Leslie Chapham (Claude Earl Jones) is another prospect entirely as he seems intent on sniffing around like a nosy aardvark, sticking his snout in places it’s evidently not wanted, making West’s life a living hell, and generally making a nuisance of himself for the sole reason that he has a boner for paperwork. Inquisition can be a costly affair when obstructing the course of scientific advancement and Chapham may be about to receive one helluva dose of truth serum.
“Don’t you ever do that again, you mental midget!”
But most disconcerting is the meddling of busybody pathologist Dr. Wilbur Graves (Mel Stewart), who has foolishly provided endorsement for Dr. Hill’s second coming and is well and truly under the thumb. He may be dead from the neck down but, with some conveniently discarded bat wings and a tube of crazy glue, Hill could soon be on his feet again (metaphorically speaking). With the festivities fast approaching full swing over at his sworn enemy’s secret lab and crucial seconds a wasting, it’s time for this pretty to fly.
“Blasphemy? Before what? God? A God repulsed by the miserable humanity He created in His own image? I will not be shackled by the failures of your God. The only blasphemy is to wallow in insignificance. I have taken refuse of your God’s failures and I have triumphed. There! THERE is my creation!”
Bride of Re-Animator is a curious beast as, while it belongs very much in the same universe as its illustrious predecessor, Yuzna’s film often feels a little detached from its vibe. The chief problem is the pace, just like Frank Hennenlotter’s similarly reconstructive Frankenhooker, as our bride doesn’t awaken until late in the day and, for all of Combs and Abbott’s banter and Gale’s menacing mincing, its heart never beats with quite the same urgency.
To be fair, there are numerous outrageous interludes to keep us scrubbed for surgery and, Yuzna being Yuzna, it’s only a matter of time before he unleashes the nasties. When he does so, all is forgiven in the time it takes our bride to tear out her still-beating organ and offer it up as a communion wafer. Bedlam ensues, heads roll (and flap for dear life), freaks come out, and at the end of a hard day’s work, we all go home happy as pigs in a pork pie. However, it’s impossible to ignore the vague feeling of dismay.
Make absolutely no misdiagnosis, Bride of Re-Animator is in no need of a second opinion and, as far as sequels go, turns out far better than it could’ve in less dainty hands than Yuzna’s. It’s a good movie, never quite a great one, but I’ll take that gladly if it means playing intern to West’s antics once more. Besides, what’s not to love about a scantily clad she-rotter with separation issues and a decidedly big heart. Give it here missus and, while you’re at it, how about one more honk on those jubilee-themed jubblies for old time’s sake?
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: I’m not ordinarily one for sucking five dicks at once but, with Screaming Mad George, Howard Berger, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, and John Carl Buechler dishing up the prosthetics, I’ll gladly apply the lip gloss. The final act is chock-full with abomination and, while never quite as bloodthirsty as the original, there’s plentiful deep red relish on the gurney to tuck into. Speaking of cold slabs, before you go zipping up Gloria’s one-way travel bag, how’s about another look at those prize-winning pumpkins before harvest ends? Quick, while she’s still above room temperature.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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