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Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (1990)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re
Featurette-Getting Ahead in Horror
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind the Scenes: Special Effects Artists
Audio Bites-Dark Adventure Radio Presents: Herbert West: Re-Animator
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
Claude Earl Jones
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The sequel to 1985's cult horror classic Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator represents a loose adaptation of two of H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West stories from the 1920s, bringing the prose to life with colourful visuals, hammy acting, and many, many litres of fake blood. With Brian Yuzna (producer of the first movie) helming this follow-up in the absence of original director Stuart Gordon, Bride of Re-Animator is an organic-feeling extension of its well-regarded predecessor, though a slapdash screenplay handicaps the production to a certain extent. Despite its flaws, this second instalment in the Re-Animator trilogy should appeal to viewers who enjoy horror from the pre-CGI era, when extensive make-up and prosthetics were the order of the day, and filmmakers were not shy about lathering on the (practically achieved) gore.
Eight months after the events of the original Re-Animator, Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and his associate, Dr. Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), relocate to Peru, where they work as medics in the midst of a fierce civil war while furthering their experiments to reanimate deceased bodies. However, when enemy troops breach their medical tent in an attack, West and Cain return home to Massachusetts, where they resume their old jobs at the Miskatonic University Hospital. Although Cain is reluctant to continue the diabolical reanimation experiments, West tempts his friend by offering to build a woman using the preserved heart of Cain's dead girlfriend Meg, in essence bringing her back to life. While working on the project, Cain develops a relationship with the kindly Francesca Danelli (Fabiana Udenio), whom he met in the jungles of Peru. Additionally, the pair's nemesis Dr. Hill (David Gale) returns to life as a reanimated head, and Lieutenant Leslie Chapham (Claude Earl Jones) begins investigating West and Cain, suspicious about their involvement in the Miskatonic Massacre.
Originally planned as just another H.P. Lovecraft horror movie (after the same team completed 1986's From Beyond), Bride of Re-Animator works as both a standalone story and as a true Re-Animator sequel which references the events of the first movie. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that none of the original Re-Animator screenwriters returned for this follow-up, with the script this time credited to Yuzna as well as Society scribes Rick Fry and Woody Keith. Alas, Bride of Re-Animator's screenplay is not as airtight or as cohesive as its predecessor, with questionable character motivations and noticeable lapses in logic - most glaringly, West and Cain apparently avoided all police scrutiny after the Miskatonic Massacre, and Cain becomes involved with Francesca while trying to resurrect Meg, the supposed love of his life. Furthermore, the change in directors is equally obvious, with Gordon's deft directorial hand sorely missed. Directing his second feature film here (after 1989's Society), Yuzna's work is occasionally somewhat stilted, while pacing is not consistently strong across the film’s 96-minute duration.
Whatever its shortcomings from a screenplay and directorial perspective, Bride of Re-Animator positively soars in terms of special effects, make-up, and sheer gory imagination, delivering the type of goods that fans of the original movie crave. Produced at a time before CGI became such a prevalent filmmaking tool, the film is old-fashioned in its execution, with optical effects shots as well as impressive make-up and prosthetics. Bride of Re-Animatoris not exactly scary, with the gory imagery never outright terrifying, but this is more of a campy B-movie as opposed to a serious horror film. Indeed, the picture is a fun ride due to its sense of humour and goofy tone - Gale even reprises his role of Dr. Hill as a floating head with bat wings. Admittedly, some (not all) of the special effects work looks dated in 2019, with visible matte lines and some obvious frame-by-frame animation, but Bride of Re-Animator is a product of its time, and the technical imperfections add to the nostalgic charm. Moreover, the zombies - particularly the titular bride - still look outstanding, and several special effects shots do stand up to contemporary scrutiny. The film culminates with a large-scale set-piece involving the titular Bride's awakening, as well as reanimated zombies descending upon West's house.
Re-Animator composer Richard Band makes his return here, composing a flavoursome original score, though some of the prominent musical cues do sound strikingly similar to Bernard Herrmann's work on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. The winning pairing of Combs and Abbott is just as great here, with Combs again turning his role of Dr. Herbert West into a memorable, credible and likeable character, while Abbott is a charismatic straight man to all the madness. Combs fully commits to the material, and he's a pleasure to watch. Although Barbara Crampton was offered a cameo appearance reprising her role of Meg in the film's opening sequence, she declined.
All things considered, Bride of Re-Animator doesn't hold a candle (or a glowing green syringe) to the original Re-Animator, as the law of diminishing returns is in effect here. Nevertheless, those who enjoyed the first movie should find this to be an adequately entertaining watch, as it is nice to see West and Cain back in action, and the gory special effects almost compensate for the movie's other shortcomings. While not on the same level as horror greats like The Exorcist or Psycho, Bride of Re-Animator is a fun nostalgic horror offering which does not take itself too seriously. Moreover, the picture possesses a kitsch feel unique to this specific filmmaking era, leaving you eager to watch more forgotten horror gems from the '80s and '90s.
Umbrella include both the R-rated and unrated cuts of Bride of Re-Animator, so fans are left to pick their poison. The differences go slightly beyond trimmed shots of gore being restored in the unrated edition; the R-rated cut actually features alternative footage to replace the shots that were removed. Difference in length in negligible - the R-rated cut runs 96:22, while the unrated cut is 96:21.
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After many years of Brian Yuzna's Bride of Re-Animator being relegated to VHS and DVD releases, this cult horror flick was restored in glorious high definition at 2K resolution in Germany for its Blu-ray debut in 2014, the same restoration of which was later used by Arrow Video for its BD release. To prepare the film for high definition, a second generation interpositive was utilised for the theatrical R-rated cut, while another, more worn composite master was located and used for the unrated material (following a long search). The interpositive constitutes the majority of the movie, while the unrated material is simply inserted when appropriate. Bride of Re-Animator gets a dual-layered BD-50 to itself, however Umbrella elected to include both versions of the movie in AVC-encoded 1080p as separate files/encodes as opposed to using seamless branching, or at least giving each version a disc to itself (like their release of the first film). As a result, the unrated version is permitted an average video bitrate approaching 25 Mbps, while the R-rated cut is allotted a paltry 14.99 Mbps video bitrate. Both cuts are included in open matte 1.78:1, which is slightly altered from the its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
First things first: the master that was prepared for the R-rated version is visibly quite good, but Umbrella's encoding does let it down to a certain extent - the situation is similar to Umbrella's likewise compressed Silver Bullet. With the master having been created from an interpositive, clarity and fine detail are quite pleasing, while the transfer retains an agreeable layer of source grain. The remaster is stable for the most part, with minor print damage and even some telecine wobble cropping up at various points, but it's never too distracting, and at least it looks like film. The compression affects the grain, however; the grain actually looks finer and more organic in some of the special features, while here it varies between nicely resolved and noticeably blocky, at times taking on the appearance of macroblocking. The compression is perhaps most felt, however, when it comes to colours and object delineation - the image exhibits black crush from time to time, with the transfer unable to resolve adequate shadow detail. And since this is a horror movie reliant on atmosphere and shadows, that's a noticeable issue. Textures and fine detail are still adequate, but it does look somewhat murky and soft at times, with the compression robbing the image of precision and tightness. As ever, mileage will vary depending on your equipment - it's watchable on my 55" TV, but my 65" screen revealed all of the presentation's shortcomings, and I don't even want to imagine how the disc would look on an even bigger television. This transfer looks more like a compressed Netflix stream, as opposed to a premium disc. At least I couldn't detect any banding or aliasing. In final analysis, the transfer for the R-rated cut earns a star rating of 3/5.
This brings us to the unrated cut, which definitely benefits from having a more generous video bitrate, but it still falls short of both the German Blu-ray as well as the Arrow Video Blu-ray (both of which have a bitrate approaching 35 Mbps). Many of the more troublesome shots of the R-rated cut fare better here, with more organic, better-resolved grain, as well as slightly superior textures and shadow detail, but it's not perfect. Indeed, the compression still results in some blocky-looking grain and poor colours (in addition to crush at times, including some of the opening shots in the jungle), though the issues are not a constant. The remaster remains impressive, with only occasional print damage and telecine wobble, but nothing too major or distracting. The unrated inserts are noticeable, as there is a drop in quality; colours are more faded and print damage is more pronounced, with some lines running down the screen during the insert at 12:30. Still, it's better than nothing, and I can't say I was too bothered - it's certainly preferable to have inserts from a film print, as opposed to inserts from a dated old VHS master. It's clear that there was no significant use of digital noise reduction while preparing the movie for Blu-ray, since the image at no point looks smeary or waxy, and I couldn't detect any tell-tale signs of edge enhancement either. Naturally, the grain does spike during optical shots which is par for the course. Bride of Re-Animator is pleasingly organic, with fine clarity and impressive contrast, and the transfer looks quite sharp for the most part to boot. During the transfer's best moments, textures are exceptionally resolved on costumes and skin, while the image retains an adequate sense of depth. It's nice to be able to take in all the intricate make-up design and special effects, which are the bread and butter of this flick. The enhanced bitrate helps to elevate this one above the R-rated cut, earning an overall score of 4/5 with the breakdown available below.
Could Bride of Re-Animator look better? Sure, a 4K scan of the original camera negative would of course yield better results, and of coure the application of High Dynamic Range would give the image more depth and retain superior textures. And that's before pointing out the flaws of the restricted video bitrate - hell, the 35 Mbps bitrate of the international Blu-rays is more than double the bitrate that Umbrella gives the R-rated cut here. But considering that this is the first time Bride of Re-Animator has been available in HD in Australia, and fans have previously lived with old VHS tapes and DVDs, I can't complain too much. It looks a hell of a lot better than its 2003 sequel, Beyond Re-Animator.
English subtitles are included. I had no issues with the track.
Video Ratings Summary
Aside from the three included audio commentaries, the only audio option for the movie is a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, which is thankfully encoded in stereo as opposed to mono. It's probably slightly disappointing to some that Bride did not receive a 5.1 remix like its predecessor, but having the nicely restored original stereo track is perfectly adequate. Just like the video, it's evident that plenty of love went into restoring the audio here; it's clean and clear, free of any distracting cracks, pops or hissing, nor are there any drop-outs or sync problems. The audio is only limited by the period's recording equipment, which is understandable. Prioritisation is fine throughout, with dialogue consistently discernible amid the sound effects and music. The track has some punch, too, with sound effects that are impactful as opposed to hollow, thanks to some subtle but appropriate subwoofer activity. There's not much in the way of low-frequency effects, nor is there much noticeable separation or surround activity - indeed, this is a front-centric presentation, with rear channels reserved for subtle accentuation of music and sound effects. I don't have any complaints.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
For its Australian Blu-ray debut, Umbrella have sourced all previously-produced supplemental material, all of which appeared on Arrow Video's 2016 release of the movie. It's disappointing that Bride of Re-Animator didn't warrant a fully-fleshed documentary like the first movie, but the three audio commentary tracks almost compensate for this.
Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna (Unrated Cut) This first audio commentary (for the unrated edition) is mostly scene specific, with David Gregory from Severin Films prompting director Brian Yuzna into revealing anecdotes and trivia about Bride of Re-Animator. He discusses the actors, including acknowledging that Fabiana Udenio went on to feature in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and he's asked about the main title music which sounds noticeably similar to Bernard Herrman's Psycho score. Other topics include KNB EFX, who significantly contributed to the production's special make-up effects, while the production design and use of dry ice is touched upon. Additionally, Yuzna has interesting anecdotes about working with the MPAA, and submitting Bride for classification (Yuzna paid for the first Re-Animator and allowed it to be released unrated, whereas Bride had to be R-rated). Yuzna also reveals that he owns the rights to the franchise, which is why it didn't spawn endless sequels like Hellraiser or Halloween. As the film closes, Yuzna is even reflective, discussing things that don't work about the movie, showing that he's not under some delusion that the flick is perfect. Naturally, Yuzna occasionally struggles to find something interesting to say, and the commentary is not entirely compelling from start to finish, but this is still a worthwhile inclusion that fans should enjoy for the most part.
Audio Commentary with Brian Yuzna, Jeffrey Combs, Tom Rainone, John Carl Beucher, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger & Screaming Mad George (Unrated Cut) This archival group audio commentary dates back to the film's 1999 DVD release, featuring a selection of cast and crew who disclose both scene-specific information as well as anecdotes relating to the production at large. They talk about shooting conditions, with the crew working long hours, and they even reveal which scenes were shot on the first day of filming. Frankenstein is also mentioned as an influence on the production. There's even a fun story about how the special effects guys forced the shoot to wrap when Yuzna wanted to film more. They speak with enthusiasm, though the size of the group does turn the track into something of a cacophony of conversation, lacking in focus and momentum. Indeed, they trail off at times. Additionally, it's impossible to keep tabs on who's who with a group this large, and with voices so vaguely distinguished. I would have much preferred a fully-fledged documentary featuring interviews with all of these participants.
Audio Commentary with Jeffrey Combs & Bruce Abbott (Unrated Cut) The third and final audio commentary (another archival track recorded in 1999) involves the film's primary stars, Combs and Abbott. The pair are understandably jokey and don't approach the track seriously - they mostly just watch the movie, pausing often, making rudimentary observations (no muzzle flash when West shoots someone point blank at the beginning) and cracking jokes along the way. (Combs even sings along to the main title theme.) They respond to dialogue, comment on the on-screen action, and encourage characters. Hell, at one point they announce they don't have much to say about a scene, which is understandable since neither men are in it. There are nuggets of information scattered throughout, but this is mostly pitched a fun listen as opposed to something more serious-minded or informative - and it does get old after a while. It's hard to not perceive this track as anything other than a wasted opportunity. After listening to these two archival commentaries, I can understand why a third track with Yuzna was later recorded.
Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator (HD; 9:37) This brief but nevertheless interesting interview with Yuzna from 2016 delves into the genesis of Bride of Re-Animator, tracking how the production came about and revealing original story ideas. He also talks about the return of David Gale's Dr. Hill, with the actor calling Yuzna and asking if there was any way he could come back in the sequel. Additionally, the production itself is touched upon, intercut with rough, VHS-quality behind-the-scenes footage.
Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator (HD; 14:39) Another extra produced by Severin Films in 2016, this fifteen-minute extra is solely concerned with the production's make-up and special effects. Yuzna is interviewed (the same interview session as the previous extra), in addition to virtually all of the special effects artists which worked on Bride of Re-Animator, across a number of different companies. The interviewees talk about getting involved, share anecdotes from the shoot and discuss their work, and it's all intercut with revealing behind-the-scenes footage.
Getting Ahead in Horror (HD; 23:48) As opposed to a newly-produced retrospective, here we have an archival featurette about Bride of Re-Animator, encoded in 1080p but taken from a rough (1.33:1) standard definition video source. It's pure fly-on-the-wall stuff, amounting to an extended reel of on-set footage which primarily zeroes in on the make-up and special effects. We get to see the crew working on things in their warehouse prior to shooting, and we get to see said things being implemented on the set for a number of different scenes. There are no straight-to-camera interviews - rather, the crew occasionally talk us through their creations and demonstrate them. Despite the rough quality, this is still an easily watchable and valuable inclusion.
Behind the Scenes: Special Effects Artists (HD; 14:27) This is more or less an extension of the previous extra; raw behind-the-scenes footage revealing several scenes being shot, and the special effects team both working on and implementing their creations. This is encoded in 1080i but was derived from an SD source. It's worth pointing out that, inevitably, some of this footage was used in the previous extras. It's still nice to get the full uncut reel nevertheless.
Deleted Scenes (720p; 10:01) Two scenes are included here; one segment sees us being talked through a planned sequence set to stills, while the second segment amounts to a behind-the-scenes look at another scene that didn't make it to the final cut (complete with some outtakes), in addition to a rough cut of said scene taken from a poor quality VHS source. The latter scene continues on from the conclusion of the original Re-Animator, seeing the aftermath of Meg's re-animation, which is certainly interesting to see as it fills in some of the blanks. Actress Barbara Crampton does not play Meg here, which could be why the scene wound up cut. This is another worthwhile inclusion to the disc.
Dark Adventure Radio Presents: Herbert West: Re-Animator (HD; 71:36) As implied by the title, this is a radio adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator stories, played out in the style of a 1930s radio drama. This is played over a selection of animated images that don't relate to the on-screen action. This radio play is actually available for sale on CD and digitally for the price of this Blu-ray, making it a nice inclusion to the disc for those who are interested enough to listen to the whole thing.
Trailer (HD; 1:51) The trailer for Bride of Re-Animator, presented in high definition but with a fair amount of noticeable print damage. Another worthwhile inclusion.
R4 vs R1
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non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
Umbrella's disc features the exact same supplemental material as Arrow's edition, which was released in both the United States and the United Kingdom. However, Arrow's OOP limited edition features a much higher video bitrate, as each cut is given its own disc. That set is therefore the winner. However, Umbrella's edition is a more affordable and feasible way to own both cuts of the movie, quality be damned, so pick your poison.
Bride of Re-Animator is an imperfect sequel to a bona fida classic, but it's not without merit - it's still fun to see all the gory special effects, and the returning cast also give it their all.
The high definition restoration is astounding, giving new life to this late-'80s horror flick. Both the original R-rated cut as well as the unrated edition are included in high definition, though Umbrella's video encode - with restrictive video bitrates - is less than perfect. Nevertheless, the lossless audio track sounds great, and there's a healthy selection of supplemental material. Established fans of the movie should be chuffed with the disc.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, March 11, 2019
|DVD||Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|
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