Horror Movie Review: Bride Of Re-Animator (1989)


Eight months after the events of Re-Animator, Doctors Herbert West and Dan Cain are working as medics in the middle of a bloody civil war. In the chaos of battle and with plenty of casualties to work on, they are free to experiment with West’s re-animation reagent. When their medical tent is stormed by the enemy troops, West and Cain return home to Arkham, Massachusetts. There, they resume their former jobs as doctors at the University Hospital, and West returns to the basement laboratory of Cain’s house to continue his research…..

Instead of taking whole bodies from the hospital’s morgue, West discovers that his reagent can re-animate body parts by themselves. He becomes determined to create an entire living person from separate body parts. West discovers the heart of Megan, Dan’s fiancée, in the hospital morgue. With the promise to use her heart to re-animate a new Megan, West convinces Cain to help him with his project. Also stored in the morgue is the rest of the evidence from the previous Massacre. Inside, pathologist Dr. Graves discovers a vial of West’s reagent and the severed head of Dr. Carl Hill. Using the reagent,re-animates Hill’s head.

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Hill bears a grudge against West, as West was responsible for his decapitation; the destruction of his body; taking away Megan, with whom he was obsessed; and having better theories about reanimation than himself. Using hypnotic powers, Hill commands a reanimated detective to force Dr. Graves to stitch bat wings onto his neck, giving him back his mobility, you read that right! He also extends his mental control to all of the zombie survivors of the Massacre.

When one of Dan’s patients, Gloria, dies, West collects the last piece he needs for his creation: her head. With a complete body stitched and wired together, West and Cain inject the re-animation reagent into Meg’s heart. While waiting for the reagent to take effect, a package is delivered to their house.

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Inside the package is none other than Dr Hill’s head which flies out and attacks West before escaping into a nearby room. Hill summons all of the reanimated zombies he controls to the house while West retreats back to the basement lab, where his creation, the Bride, has awoken.

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Dan rejects the Bride’s love and sides with Francesca; Cain’s current girlfriend, an Italian journalist. Heart-broken, the Bride rips Megan’s heart out of her own chest and then literally falls to pieces.

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Hill and his zombies force West, Cain and Francesca to retreat through the wall of the lab and into a crypt in the neighbouring cemetery. Inside, all of West’s prior test subjects arise and make their way towards him, stopping only when Herbert commands them to. The unstable crypt begins to collapse, trapping Hill, West and the zombies. Cain and Francesca manage to escape the debris and claw their way to the surface of the cemetery together. Hill, stuck in the debris, laughs manically, while Megan’s heart, still in the hand of the bride, stops beating.

So that’s Bride Of Re-Animator and while it’s as entertaining as original it does have some big issues. Once again, Jeffrey Combs gives an outstanding performance as Herbert West. There are some actors that give the impression that they were born to play a certain role and that undoubtedly feels like the case with Jeffrey Combs.

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Re-Animator is a horror/gore/satire classic that no fan of horror should miss. While Bride Of Re-Animator may fall short of that kind of acclaim, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a fine sequel.

The storyline involving the reanimated corpse made up of different body parts is clearly inspired by bride of Frankenstein which is fine but there are definitely some unanswered questions when analyzing the ending of the first film and the plot. Why does Herbert West continue to reanimate people/body parts when it’s pretty clear that his reagent turns them into violent zombies? How did Herbert West survive the climax of the first movie? Why is the University hospital allowing West and Cain to continue working there after the incident? You can make your own assumptions for these questions but the movie leaves them unanswered which is disappointing.

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Also, I found the story and build up to the conclusion to be not as interesting as the original but it’s in the last twenty minutes when the film really goes full throttle that it becomes worth it. If you were a fan of the type of gore that was used in the original then you won’t be disappointed, it’s extremely bloody. The effects on show are really impressive to look at, especially those used for the bride. When the cemetery wall busts open and we get to see all of West’s failed experiments it’s a feast for the eyes for anyone that’s impressed by practical effects.

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Another thing I found quite disappointing is how underutilized Dr Hill was. I was really looking forward to him confronting West and when it does eventually happen it is highly amusing but it’s over very quickly which is a shame.

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Bride Of Re-Animator suffers because it’s premise isn’t as fresh as it’s predecessor yet it doesn’t attempt to adapt; the characters don’t really seem to have learned much from their previous experience. In my mind though, this doesn’t change the fact that the film is a lot of fun from beginning to end and that’s probably primarily down to Jeffrey Combs eccentric performance. It still has the impressive over the top gore that made the original so entertaining and it still has the hilarious black comedy that blends so well with it. If you enjoyed the original and enjoy movies like Evil Dead 2 then I highly recommend giving this a chance regardless of some of the negativity about it elsewhere.

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  • 7.5/10
    The Final Score - 7.5/10
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