Overall | Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (1990) | Beyond Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (2003)

Bride of Re-Animator / Beyond Re-Animator (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray) (1990)

Bride of Re-Animator / Beyond Re-Animator (Collector's Edition) (Blu-ray) (1990)

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Released 6-Jun-2018

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Overall Package

    Following up their Blu-ray release of the first Re-Animator film, which originally debuted in 2015 before being repackaged and re-released in 2018, Umbrella are offering Australian fans the two Re-Animator sequels for the first time on Blu-ray, along with a satisfying host of special features. In keeping with other titles in their "Beyond Genres" line, the set arrives with beautiful original artwork by Simon Sherry, a reversible cover sans annoying ratings logos, and a nice matte slipcover. Collectors will love it!

    The films themselves are admittedly less than perfect, though I cannot be too harsh on them - both sequels have their merits, even if they fail to adequately serve Jeffrey Combs' iconic Dr. Herbert West. The technical presentations have their strengths and weaknesses; the unrated cut of Bride of Re-Animator fares the best all-round, while the theatrical cut of Bride is a bit too compressed, and Beyond Re-Animator was minted from a heavily flawed master (in terms of both video and audio). Nevertheless, the movies are watchable on Blu-ray. See the full breakdowns for all the nasty details.

    Additionally, there's a fair bit of supplemental material to chew through on this two-disc set. Bride of Re-Animator is served best, with a supply of video featurettes, three audio commentaries, and other bits and bobs. Beyond Re-Animator is also permitted an adequate supply of extras that shed light on the creation of the final sequel in this franchise. I can't say the set is perfect, but it still comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (1990) | Beyond Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (2003)

Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (1990)

Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (1990)

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Released 6-Jun-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror/Sci-Fi Audio Commentary-x3
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
Deleted Scenes
Audio Bites-Dark Adventure Radio Presents: Herbert West: Re-Animator
Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 96:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brian Yuzna
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Jeffrey Combs
Bruce Abbott
Claude Earl Jones
Fabiana Udenio
David Gale
Kathleen Kinmont
Mel Stewart
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI Box Music Richard Band


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    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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Transfer Quality

Video

    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
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    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

NOTE: To view 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.

Summary

    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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Monday, March 11, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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Overall | Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (1990) | Beyond Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (2003)

Beyond Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (2003)

Beyond Re-Animator (Blu-ray) (2003)

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Released 6-Jun-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror/Sci-Fi Audio Commentary-with Director Brian Yuzna
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Beyond Re-Animator
Music Video-Dr. Re-Animator: Move Your Dead Bones
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 95:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brian Yuzna
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Jeffrey Combs
Jason Barry
Elsa Pataky
Santiago Segura
Lolo Herrero
Bárbara Elorrieta
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI Box Music Xavier Capellas


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    Arriving thirteen years after its immediate predecessor, and eighteen years after the original Re-Animator, 2003's Beyond Re-Animator is the product of a completely different time. Instead of an old-fashioned B-movie permeated with campy '80s goodness, this third instalment in the Re-Animator franchise is a straight-to-video cheapie, lacking the legitimacy and wit of the earlier pictures. The inimitable Jeffrey Combs reprises his role of Dr. Herbert West, while Bride of Re-Animator helmer Brian Yuzna likewise returns to direct, but it doesn't quite feel the same, with cheap production values and no Bruce Abbott as Dan Cain. Nevertheless, this sequel has its charms despite some major shortcomings - it's an absurd, over-the-top, darkly comic and occasionally fun B-movie when it manages to settle into an agreeable groove.

    After a reanimated zombie runs amok and slaughters a teenage girl, Dr. West is finally sent to prison for his dangerous experiments. Incarcerated for thirteen years, West attempts to continue his work behind bars, though he lacks the resources to concoct another batch of his reanimation agent to conduct further tests. However, Dr. Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) takes the job as the prison's new doctor, and specifically requests West to be his medical assistant. Unbeknownst to the tyrannical Warden Brando (Simón Andreu), Phillips intends to continue West's reanimation experiments after witnessing his sister's death at the hands of one of West's creations when he was a young boy. Phillips becomes distracted, however, when he meets journalist Laura Olney (Elsa Pataky), who's doing a story on the penitentiary.

    Whereas the first two Re-Animator movies were loosely adapted from H.P. Lovecraft's serialised Herbert West stories, Beyond Re-Animator is entirely original, with Lovecraft no longer mentioned in the credits. The twist to this third Re-Animator is that West discovers a potential way to bring people back to life properly, restoring the souls of the dead, as opposed to simply turning them into mindless zombies prone to degeneration. It's the next logical step in the series, and it is refreshing that the screenplay credited to José Manuel Gómez (from a story by The Lion King and Revenge of the Nerds scribe Miguel Tejada-Flores) exhibits some sense of invention. Nevertheless, perhaps unsurprisingly, the narrative's broad strokes remain similar to the previous Re-Animator flicks, and Beyond Re-Animator will not exactly win awards for dialogue. Additionally, although West prominently features in the first two pictures, he was never the protagonist; he was more of a scenery-chewing side character. Beyond Re-Animator, on the other hand, graduates West to protagonist, and that's an issue since he never grows or develops over the course of the film. Phillips represents Cain's replacement, but he's simply not substantial enough as a potential protagonist, with the material only permitting him a trite romantic subplot with Laura.

    Beyond Re-Animator was produced for a meagre $3 million, with costs minimised by filming in Spain, hiring a Spanish crew, and setting the feature primarily within the confines of the prison. To Yuzna's credit, many of the set-pieces are enjoyable enough, with gory highlights transpiring every 15-20 minutes, culminating with a customary prison riot which showcases one outrageous sight after another. Grotesque delights include a reanimated rat playing with an amputated p**** (there's more of that during the end credits), a ripped-in-half inmate swinging through the penitentiary, creative use of the electric chair, a prisoner's stomach exploding spectacularly, and many other instances of spilled guts and severed limbs. Yuzna has fun with the patently absurd material, maintaining an effective comedic tone and never taking things too seriously. Nevertheless, the film does struggle to maintain momentum, with some lackadaisical editing which makes this feel like a rough workprint at times. Also, a few obvious instances of computer-generated imagery betray the practical effects work which defines this film franchise. Alas, Beyond Re-Animator needed a bit more polishing, and snappier editing. Additionally, although composer Xavier Capellas recreates some of the franchise's familiar musical motifs effectively enough, the original score is chintzy and cheap for the most part, and not in a charming '80s fashion. As a result, the production feels all the more generic and low-rent.

    Unsurprisingly, Combs is the movie's secret weapon. Despite the production's other shortcomings, Combs gives it his all as Dr. West, playing things totally straight and delivering his dialogue with utmost conviction. For the third time here, Combs turns what is essentially a mad scientist caricature into a believable and endearing character. As West's protégée for this go-round, Barry (who played Tommy Ryan in Titanic) is fine - he's believable enough, and brings requisite intensity to the finale. While Combs is American and Barry is Irish, the rest of the actors are Spanish. However, it's not always obvious, as the characters speak English with convincing accents. Admittedly, some of the performers are visibly dubbed, but the likes of Pataky and Andreu are noticeably permitted their own voices, and they're perfectly adequate as their respective characters.

    Combs' Dr. Herbert West remains an outstanding character in both conception and execution, and he should have the same genre notoriety as the likes of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. However, the Re-Animator sequels fail to adequately serve him - he deserves more. Beyond Re-Animator was not actually intended to be the last instalment in this series. A fourth movie, entitled House of Re-Animator, entered active development in 2006, with Combs and Abbott on-board to reprise their respective roles, and original Re-Animator helmer Stuart Gordon returning to direct, but unfortunately it never materialised due to funding difficulties. Beyond Re-Animator is not a downright unwatchable ending for this franchise, as it still has its charms, but it's not a patch on the classic 1985 movie which started it all.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    For Beyond Re-Animator's worldwide Blu-ray debut (releases later materialised in both the United States and Germany), Umbrella make use of a dual-layered BD-50, mastering the movie in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition with an average video bitrate of 24.53 Mbps. Given the rather average bitrate, it's a bit bewildering that Umbrella elected for a BD-50, since they only utilise a scant 28.7GB of the disc, leaving over 20GB unused. Unfortunately, 2003's Beyond Re-Animator fares much worse than Bride of Re-Animator on Blu-ray, though the issue ostensibly traces back to the HD master made available to Umbrella. Even though this is the most recent Re-Animator instalment, it looks the worst, with a presentation smothered in an ungodly amount of digital noise reduction, scrubbing the image of every last ounce of natural film grain and fine detail. As a result, the movie looks smeary, waxy and flat from start to finish, at times looking like an upscaled DVD with weak colours and contrast, and an occasionally murky appearance. The first two Re-Animator movies were lovingly restored in Germany for their high definition debuts, but Beyond looks like the worst kind of dated DVD-era master.

    According to IMDb, the movie was completed at 1.66:1, but it is presented on Blu-ray here in 1.78:1, framed to fill a typical widescreen television screen. It is unclear if this transfer is cropped or open matte, or this could even be the originally intended aspect ratio, but I didn't notice any awkward-looking framing. More problematic is the overzealous application of DNR, with the film looking filtered to the extreme. Admittedly, close-ups and medium shots are more serviceable, as there is still some pleasing discernible textures on faces and costumes (a close-up of Pataky at 39:10 is about the best it gets), but that's not a ringing endorsement. Wider shots are a total eyesore for the most part, with nothing in the way of precise textures or fine detail - it all looks waxy and smeary. Additionally, a number of shots look like a standard definition DVD due to the lack of textures as well as poor colours and contrast. At times some grain appears to sneak back into the image, but it sometimes looks more like noise as a result of compression, rather than organic film grain. It's inconsistent, but even when natural-looking grain is apparent, the picture still lacks finer textures. Again, it's clear this master was prepared for the movie's DVD release, with the limitations of such an old scan on full display. At times, the grain isn't just managed but outright obliterated, with the presentation standing alongside Tremors and Predator (the Ultimate Hunter Edition) as some of the most egregious DNR I've ever witnessed. Parts of the frame are even destroyed due to the DNR - text on walls is indecipherable in long shots, and see the bricks in the background at 27:40, which look like haphazard blobs of colour since there is no delineation.

    On that note, the presentation is not necessarily sharp - it's a bit soft-looking on the whole, with some shots looking worse than others, as again the excessive DNR robs the image of precise delineation on hairs or stubble. Digitally created shots, such as one at 42:40 or another at 59:25, are noticeably soft, though the restricted resolution of the original render (this is a low-budget 2003 production) doesn't do it any favours. But at least the image isn't further marred by edge enhancement to make it look artificially sharper. The transfer also exhibits frequent print damage, with dirt, flecks and hairs appearing, though it's not too distracting. I also noticed some minor gate weave, with the image occasionally wobbling. These film artefacts are about the least of the presentation's problems, mind you. Furthermore, black levels are hit-and-miss thanks to studiously mediocre contrast - darker areas of rooms never look deep or inky enough, which again gives this the appearance of a DVD. Colours, meanwhile, are dull. Skin looks pasty, primaries never pop, and the palette on the whole just lacks vibrancy. This is the type of dull palette you might expect from a VHS or a DVD, not a Blu-ray. At the very least, I couldn't detect any issues with Umbrella's video encode; no banding, aliasing or ringing. When grain sneaks back into the image, it does look a bit blocky, but that's likely related to the master; again, film scanning technology has come a long way since the early noughties.

    As ever, your mileage can and will vary with this flawed transfer - I found the movie easier to watch on my 55" television, as the presentation does not stand up to the increased scrutiny of my 65" TV. The transfer does have its serviceable moments, particularly during the final third, but even at its best, it's still very average and should be better. At its worst, however, it's unwatchable. Beyond Re-Animator is not exactly a highly regarded sequel, and one can certainly understand not much money or effort going into a Blu-ray release. But then again, the U.S. Vestron Video disc from Lionsgate looks a hell of a lot better, with stronger colours, better textures, and a superior grain structure. It's disappointing that Umbrella were only able to license this dated old DVD master as opposed to Lionsgate's more pleasing remaster. Videophiles will undoubtedly be extremely disappointed and will nitpitck the presentation all the way through. Casual viewers might focus less on the shortcomings, but even a blind person could tell that there's something off about this transfer.

    Like Bride of Re-Animator, Umbrella include an English (for the hearing impaired) subtitle track. Although the subtitles are easy to read, at times they are out of sync with the dialogue, and accuracy with the dialogue is hit-and-miss. I ended up turning them off. Interestingly, the HD master looks to have been sourced from overseas - while opening credits sequence is in English, the introductory titles are in Spanish. It's not a huge thing, but it is noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Aside from the audio commentary, the sole audio option included on the disc is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which is 24-bit. Right out of the gate, during the opening attack scene, there is some major peaking that severely crackles, particularly during screams, which ruins the sense of immersion. The peaking/crackling reoccurs during every set-piece that involves loud noises, most noticeably yelling/screaming. Additionally, there is some slight hissing at times whenever an actor's line of dialogue involves an "s". Added to this, I did notice that the track appears out of sync occasionally, especially when West is talking to the prison guard at the 11-minute mark, but things appear to level out and improve after a little while. However, I don't think this is necessarily a fault of the track - it looks more like the result of poor ADR since the Spanish actor was dubbed.

    Outside of these shortcomings, there is little else to complain about. For the most part, the track is sufficiently clear, with smart prioritisation keeping the dialogue comprehensible amid sound effects and music. The soundscape is effective, with the surround channels engaged to accentuate music and environmental ambience. The subwoofer also gives some depth and impact to the track (gunshots sound impactful at 77:40), though I was unable to detect much in the way of noticeable separation or panning effects (aside from Cabrera being thrown off-screen at 81:05). While this audio track does fine for the most part, the flaws are hard to ignore, particularly since Beyond Re-Animator is all about the set-pieces, and there is too much crackling/peaking to really enjoy it all. It's a real shame.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Beyond Re-Animator retains the special features created for the special edition DVD back in the early 2000s, while Umbrella have also sourced an array of cast and crew interviews.

Audio Commentary with Brian Yuzna

    The director of Beyond Re-Animator flies solo for this audio commentary track, which seems to be for the best as the track is focused and informative as a result. Yuzna comes in strong from the start, talking about shooting the opening sequence in Barcelona, and the difficulty of finding an American-style house to serve as the setting. He mentions including Combs in said opening, and not trying to make the actor look younger despite the scene taking place in 1990. Other topics include working with the rat, the prison location (an abandoned prison that was tweaked by the production to look both modern and American), the actors, and more. Many of the crew are given an appropriate shoutout, with Yuzna praising the work of the writer, the editor, the 1st AD, the composer, and more. The funding is discussed, too, with Yuzna stating that nobody was willing to fund a Re-Animator movie all throughout the 1990s. He even says that Bruce Abbott was meant to be involved in a third Re-Animator, but the director chose to include a younger associate for West instead. Also interesting: revealing that some of the Spanish actors were dubbed in post-production, as their accents were too strong. The discussion is primarily kept scene-specific, and Yuzna is surprisingly thoughtful in regards to many aspects of the movie. Indeed, the production was not as slapdash as many might assume. However, there is an intermittent high-pitched ringing to the track which is hard on the ear at times - it sounds like ringing emitted from a hearing aid. Despite this, there is lots to glean from this fast-moving, informative commentary track.

The Making of Beyond Re-Animator (720p; 17:56)

    Here we have an archival featurette, seemingly created around the time of the movie's 2003 release, which offers a reasonably interesting behind-the-scenes look at Beyond Re-Animator. We get interviews with Yuzna, Combs, Barry, Pataky, and more, along with a pleasing amount of candid on-set footage. The extra delves into the production at large, touching upon the locations and special effects, in addition to exploring the making of individual scenes and beats. The majority of the interviews are in Spanish with English subtitles (since the actors themselves are Spanish), while the film clips are also in Spanish, and the crew speak Spanish in the behind-the-scenes footage.

Dr. Re-Animator: Move Your Dead Bones (720p; 4:13)

    An amusing, good-natured, goofy music video that was created to promote Beyond Re-Animator at the time of its release. I must admit I had a good laugh at this, particularly due to the cheesy music and the sincerity of the choreography. This music video was actually directed by Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona, who went on to helm movies like The Orphanage and 2018's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Encoded in 720p, but taken from an SD source.

Interviews (720p; 18:08)

    Here we have the raw EPK interviews that were edited into the "making of" featurette. Therefore, all of the interview material from said featurette is included here, plus the additional material that wasn't used. The framing of the interviews is bizarre - these are taken handheld, with frequent camera movement, zooming, and some odd framing. Still, these are relatively interesting. There are six interviewees: Brian Yuzna, Santiago Segura, Jeffrey Combs & Jason Barry (recorded together), Simón Andreu, and Elsa Pataky. It's worth noting that, like in the featurette, the interviews with Segura, Andreu and Pataky are in Spanish with English subtitles.

Behind the Scenes (720p; 12:24)

    Here's twelve minutes of raw, fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes footage from the making of Beyond Re-Animator. We get to see scenes being shot, and Yuzna giving directions to the actors. I expected this to be the same footage edited into the "making of" featurette, but this seems to be new material - I don't recall seeing any of this footage in the featurette. On the whole, this is a worthwhile selection of B-roll footage that gives you an idea of the on-set atmosphere. This is mostly in Spanish, with English subtitles.

Trailer (720p; 1:54)

    The movie's trailer, taken from an unremastered standard definition source (complete with aliasing, terrible contrast and milky blacks). I always appreciate the inclusion of a trailer - I actually watched this right before the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Beyond Re-Animator was released on Blu-ray in the United States by Lionsgate as part of their Vestron Video line a month after Umbrella's disc hit shelves. Compared to the Lionsgate disc, Umbrella's release misses out on:
    The Lionsgate disc, however, seems to miss out on:
    Obviously, an amalgamation of everything would be the definitive disc for Beyond Re-Animator, but instead fans are left to pick their poison. I'm giving the win to the Lionsgate disc, for obvious reasons.

Summary

    I didn't hate Beyond Re-Animator, but it's not an especially good sequel, and it's a disappointing end for Jeffrey Combs' Dr. Herbert West. Nevertheless, it does have its charms, and it's not a total bomb.

    Umbrella bring the movie to Blu-ray for the first time in Australia. At the time of this disc's release, it was also Beyond Re-Animator's worldwide Blu-ray debut. Unfortunately, the video leaves much to be desired, as the master is horribly dated, with egregious digital noise reduction robbing the HD presentation of texture. The accompanying audio track does fine for the most part, but it's not without flaws. The special features are fine but not overwhelming. It's a so-so Blu-ray release of a so-so movie.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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