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BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1989)

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BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (1989)

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Slash’s Shitfaced Saturday

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With a film like RE-ANIMATOR (1985), it only makes cinematic sense, as in more bucks, to crank out a sequel or five to keep the story line extant. The first RE-ANIMATOR sequel, mostly called BRIDE OF, sometimes just labeled II, was released in late 1989, and it sported most of the original cast.

NSFW images below (and SPOILERS obviously)

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Jeffrey Combs–Dr. Herbert West

Bruce Abbott—-Dr. Dean Cain

David Gale——Dr. Carl Hill

Kathleen Kinmont–Gloria/the Bride

Fabiana Udenio–Francesca

Claude Earl Jones–Lt. Chapman

Mel Stewart–Dr. Graves

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Taglines: Date. Mate. Re-Animate.

               Till death do us part.

The creators of the original cult film inject new life into body parts other films cannot reach. 

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Awards: Often a nominee, never a winner.

It was nominated for Best Horror Film , & Best Suporting Actor ( Combs ) by the Academy of Science Fiction & Horror Films, but it won zip.

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BRIDE was directed by Brian Yuzna. He was a producer on the original film, & good friends with its director, Stuart Gordon; who was not interested in directing any sequels, leaving it to Yuzna to direct both sequels, BRIDE & BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003).  Since 1989, he has produced 25 films, and has directed 16 of them, including SOCIETY (1989), THE DENTIST (1996) & THE DENTIST II (1996), RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993), PROGENY (1998), BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003), & ROTTWEILER (2004).

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Jeffrey Combs & I have something in common–we both attended the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program. That factoid and a dime doesn’t buy you jack shit, but it means that Combs was classically trained as an actor. After his graduation, he spent 4 years doing legitimate theater at the Old Globe Theater (San Diego), the Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles), & the South Coast Repertory (Costa Mesa).

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When he started getting film work, he did a lot of television roles. He is proud of  being only one of six actors who appeared in ten different seasons of STAR TREK; working on DEEP SPACE NINE, VOYAGER, & ENTERPRISE. if ENTERPRISE had run one more season, he was to have a regular reoccurring role. Presently he has been in 119 films since 1981, including FRIGHTMARE (1983), DEAD MAN WALKING (1988), THE PIT & THE PENDULUM (1991), TRANCERS II (1991), LOVE & A .45 (1994), played Montgomery Clift in NORMA JEAN & MARILYN (1996), THE FRIGHTENERS (1996), FEARDOT.COM (2002), & one of my favorites playing Gyrus Krinkle in the TV series SUPER ROBOT MONKEY TEAM HYPERFORCE (2004), & ELF MAN (2012). 

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Jeffrey Combs said, “God, when I was cast in RE-ANIMATOR, I had no idea what was to come ( he has played in 5 movies that were based on H.P. Lovecraft stories). Somebody made money on these films, but it wasn’t me. It had a very low budget, and we shot it in 18 days. BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR was just cobbled together. The original script was tossed out, and we got new script pages daily, just piecing it together like the Bride herself–but even so I feel that there were some great moments in that movie.”

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Kathleen Kinmont, famous for a nude scene she & Barbara Crampton didin the teen epic FRATERNITY VACATION (1985),

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picked up the Nudie reins from Crampton in the original film, and did her best to exhibit some wholesome tit-shots in BRIDE.

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She appeared in 16 films, including HARD BODIES (1981), HALLOWEEN 4 (1989), SNAKE EATER II (1989), where she met star Lorenzo Lamas, married him & went on to star in his TV series RENEGADE; divorced him after four years, remained on the show, ROLLER BLADE WARRIORS (1989), & PSYCHOTIC (2002). 

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TRIVIA: BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR was also based on stories in H.P.Lovecraft’s HERBERT WEST: RE-ANIMATOR–loosely following Episode V ( The Horror from the Shadows), & Episode VI ( the Tomb Legions ). Dr. West, at one point, hearing noises, talks about “rats in the wall”, which is a reference to one of Lovecraft’s better known stories. The credits thank Mary Shelly, & are dedicated to the memory of Brian Yuzna & Brian Greenberg; both very much alive, of course. The word Cemetery is misspelled as Cemetary (a mistake I often make) on the outside entrance wall.

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The musical score was again done by Richard Band, as in the original film. Some of his best compositions have been compared to maestro Lalo Schifrin. Band has scored 86 films since 1978, a third of them on video games, but 99% of them were Science Fiction & Horror genre (except for 3 episodes of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, but since Chuck Norris has all the acting presence & talent of a zombie, it still counts). He has scored all of his filmmaker brother’s films (Charles Band) & the films his father (Albert Band) produced, including RE-ANIMATOR (1985), DOLLS (1986), TROLL (1986), & FROM BEYOND (1986). The movies he has composed scores for are the stuff of Sci-Fi/Horror dreams, movies like LASERBLAST (1978), PARASITE (1982), METAL STORM (1983), GHOULIES (1985), ZONE TROOPERS (1985), SHATTERBRAIN (1991), DOCTOR MORDRID (1992), DRAGONWORLD (1994), ROBO WARRIORS (1996), NYMPHA (2007), & SHIVER (2012). With his films alone we could keep HH rolling for several months by reviewing just them.

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The cinematography for BRIDE was done by Rick Fichter, aka Big Rick Fichter, Little Mary Fichter, and/or Kikugawa. He has only lensed 7 films, BRIDE was like the apex of his career, & he also shot DINOSAUR CITY (1991), & PREMONITIONS (2005). But more importantly, in the world of Science Fiction/Horror, Fichter is considered a serious F/X wizard, a CGI stud, having worked on 16 very important films, including TERMINATOR: SALVATION (2009), ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997), STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997), ROBOCOP (1987), ROBOCOP II (1990), ALIEN III (1992), TOP GUN (1986), INDIANA JONES & THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984), THE RIGHT STUFF (1983), POLTERGEIST (1982), & STAR WARS–THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980). 

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SYNOPSIS: (WARNING; this description of the “plot” contains fucking spoilers back to back–but if you didn’t want to know about this movie, you probably would not be reading this anyway).

The opening credits had very good production values, kind of a James Bond-like montage, with a lot of naked chick silhouettes. The music is good, actually, done by Richard Band.

The film opens in the “Peruvian” jungle, 8 months after the terrible events in RE-ANIMATOR, often referred to as the Miskatonic Massacre, where find Doctors Herbert West & Dean Cain working as MASH medics in the middle of a bloody civil war. There is no explanation as to how Dr. West survived the zombie onslaught at the end of the first film; none given, none asked for.  Immediately we are tuned in to the fact that these medical pioneers are continuing  with their “scientific” studies of corpses & re-animation, in a place where dead bodies are plentiful, & nobody questions their motives.

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We are introduced to the sexy Francesca, an Italian journalist that is covering the war, & that seems to be Dr. Cain’s fiance. Their medical unit is stormed by the enemy, and the doctors have to make a run for it.

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The scene abruptly shifts back home to Arkham, Massachusetts. where the good doctors have resumed their old jobs at Miskatonic University Hospital. Dr. Cain, ever the Lothario, has a new fiance, Gloria, who is dying of something or other.

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“Morning, Gloria,” Dr. Cain greets her with each day.

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The two medical bachelors live together in an old mortuary on the edge of town, next to a cemetery. It has a large basement that is perfect for them to continue with their research. Very quickly a cop, Lt. Chapham shows up at the hospital morgue, where he interviews Dr. Graves, the pathologist in charge. This is a special morgue, where various body parts are setting out on silver tables & carts. Dr. Graves is happy to receive the severed head of Dr. Gale, found recently in a Carnival coming through town. There is an anti-room where body parts are wrapped in clear Saran Wrap, & the cop notices that nothing looks “deteriorated”.

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“Odd, isn’t it? Such is the case for all the body parts from the Massacre.” says Dr. Graves. The cop notices that the fresh corpses were missing body parts; a ballerina was missing her feet. “All stolen it seems,” replies a smiling Dr. Graves, who then shows him “the cage” where several survivors of the Massacre are kept, all crazed blood-thirsty zombies. We come to find out that Lt. Chapham’s wife is one of them, & this is the reason he has a hard on for West & Cain–since they were the only two unaffected survivors.

After the cop leaves, we see that the demented Dr. Graves has been experimenting with body parts & animals, having found a vat of the fluorescent-green reagent. He kills a bat, then reanimates it. It, of course, goes berserk & attacks him. Killing it again, he begins to play with Dr. Hill’s severed head, soon reanimating that. Dr. Hill begins to berate him, & recruits him to get his revenge on Doctors West & Cain.

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Scene shifts to the mortuary lab where we find Dr. West convincing Dr. Cain to assist him in the “greatest achievement ever”, the “creation of new life from dead body parts.” They have discovered during the months previous that the miraculous green reagent can reanimate individual body parts by themselves. West has created several grotesque creatures out of these cast-off stolen parts, like five fingers spliced together, given a human eye. They dispose of the experiments in the adjacent cemetery.

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Dr. Cain is resistant to West’s overtures since he is grieving over the recent death of his fiance, Gloria, & he is still carrying a torch for Megan, who was torn to pieces during the Massacre. West has saved her heart, & he shows Cain his masterwork, a new “Bride” that will have Megan’s heart, Gloria’s head, a ballerina’s feet, a hooker’s shapely legs, the midriff trunk of a virgin, the arms of a waitress, with one hand that belonged to a lawyer, and the other to a murderer.

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We then see Lt. Chapham staking out the mortuary, & he sees, as do we, the unexpected arrival of Dr. Cain’s Italian journalist girlfriend, with her dog. Cain quickly takes Francesca into a bedroom and has sex with her, while the dog watches. Coyly, she shows us some leg and side breast, as Cain put his hand  on it, covering up the nipple, which really pisses off viewers, myself included.

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Here is a nudie shot of Fabina, from an Italian film, so that we can appreciate what we were missing.

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During this less-than-tender love scene, a monstrous thunder storm, rife with lightning, brews up. The cop, bored with only watching, marches into the house, and demands that West show him “what’s downstairs”; which the arrogant power-mad doctor seems happy to do. Seeing the corpse-strewn lab, & all the bubbling chemicals huffing through miles of plastic hosing, the cop decides to arrest West. A terrible fight ensues. and Dr. West has to kill Lt. Chapman.

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Now Jeffrey Combs is only 5’7”, and he weighs about  150 pounds naked & wet, so West gets slammed around quite easily–but he always carries an Army issue Colt .45,  which is a good equalizer against interlopers & zombies & such. That Colt is marvelous. West fires it 50 times in the film, & never reloads it once.

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After slaying the cop, Dr. West decides to inject some green reagent, which is illogical as hell, but it gives Lt. Chapham a chance to come back to life, go berserk and attack West. In the fray, the cop’s right forearm & hand are severed with a meat cleaver. The cop easily pushes his way past the pipsqueak West, & escapes to the cemetery. Dr. West says to hell with worrying over spilt reagent, and he works through the night, preparing the Bride for the final reanimation.

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That’s when the plot begins to weave a fast & farcical set of circumstances. West goes upstairs and gets Dr. Cain to join him for the big Bride moment. Francesca wanders down into the house wearing only panties, a sweatshirt, & no bra. Her dog warns her that Lt. Chapham has returned. He attacks them, killing the dog, & tearing off one of its legs. Francesca rushes downstairs to the Lab,  just in time to witness the Bride being helped into a standing position, and she stiff-leggedly does her Elsa Lancaster imitation. She, instinctively understands that she was created to love Dr. Cain, which she attempts to do. He is repulsed just as Francesca reports that Lt. Chapham is in the house. West rushes upstairs, leaving the two ladies with Dr. Cain.

Outside the storm rages, & we see that the zombie survivors from the hospital are now all roaming freely, growling & howling insanely, trying to get into the house. West quickly dispatches the cop, when two things happen; first of all the Bride & Francesca square off in the lab, & there is a tremendous  catfight, which the Bride seems to be winning. She turns suddenly & confronts Dr. Cain by ripping out Megan’s heart & offering it  to him, while he tries to comfort the battered Francesca, & secondly the front door bell rings, & Dr. West accepts a package that has been sent to him.

Setting down his .45, West (of course) opens the package, and Dr. Hill’s talking head, equipped with sewed-on bat wings flutters around the room. He calls for his minions, and all the Massacre survivors rush into the house, and all the aborted freaks West had made  recently & had buried showed up. West heads back to the basement & finds the Bride still holding out her heart to Dr. Cain, just before her Frankensteinian body begins to fall apart, piece by piece.

“Obvious tissue rejection,” quips West.

Cain & Francesca, her still only in panties & sweatshirt, escape through the hole in the wall that leads to the cemetery. West runs out of bullets, & is immediately surrounded by the blood thirsty howling zombies. Dr. Hill halts the minions to savor the kill & just then 37 bolts of lightning hit the house, & it begins to crumble & fall down like the temple of Samson. We see that Dr. Cain & his pants-less Italian squeeze escape into the cemetery. We hear Dr. Hill’s maniacal laughter, and Dr. West’s screams (like a little girl). Then fade to black, the end of this chapter.

In retrospect, we know that Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West somehow, again, survived, and will rise again in BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR; which I will have to track down and watch to complete the trilogy of reviews.

Rotten Tomatoes reported that this film enjoyed a 53% Critic’s Approval and a 46% Audience approval.

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VARIETY reported: “The over the top acting style that director Stuart Gordon encouraged in RE-ANIMATOR is continued here–with Combs particularly adept at the darkly comic throwaway lines.”

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FILM 4 printed: “Absolutely tasteless, glorious, gory fury & fun with terrific special effects from a great F/X crew of specialists–who have just gone abracadabra.”

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Walter Chaw of FILM FREAK CENTRAL wrote: “Even though it may lack the intimate cohesion of the first film, it isn’t a bit coy about ladling out the gory goodies.”

Scott Weinberg of eFILMCRITICS wrote: “Whilte RE-ANIMATOR had wit, audacity, gore, & ferocity to spare– BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR has gore, and most of the same actors.”

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So, I did enjoy viewing this sequel. It kind of reminded me of the mindless B-movie wonderful crap that Universal used to crank out in the 1940’s, so even though it contained tit-shots, it seemed to harken back to the droll dark days when horror films had no obligation to serve logic, it just had to provide films for the fans. I would rate it at 2.5 stars.

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