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‘Bride of Re-Animator’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 02, 1991


Brian Yusna
Kathleen Kinmont;
Jeffrey Combs;
Bruce Abbott
Not rated

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"Bride of Re-Animator" picks up the body parts where 1985's cult-favorite "Re-Animator" left them: at Miskatonic University Hospital, where doctors Herbert West and Dan Cain had somehow managed to bring the dead back to life thanks to a secret iridescent serum. Of course, the subsequent Miskatonic Massacre forced them to adopt a low profile for five years (in a Latin American MASH unit, of all things) and it's there that the bonkers Dr. West discovers that boosting his serum with the amniotic fluid of a rare iguana allows severed body parts to spring to life. This, of course, is nothing more than a convenient plot device to excuse the ensuing and extreme special-effects orgy, one that would make Hieronymus Bosch proud (or would at least make him laugh). And yes, the bodyless Dr. Hill is back, this time with bat wings grafted to what is now both a flying and a talking head.

The other plot conceit is pieced together from previous "Bride" sequels (1935's "... of Frankenstein" being the classic model) and the H.P. Lovecraft short stories that inspired the earlier film. Having somehow made it back to Miskatonic, West and Cain have also revived their experiments in the astoundingly spacious basement of the house they share. The driven West, looking to ensure the unsure Cain's friendship, creates a woman out of body parts stolen from the hospital morgue: a suicidal ballerina's feet, a hooker's legs, a virgin's womb, the heart of Cain's fiancee (victim of the massacre) and, atop it all, the head of a lovely terminal patient Cain's become attached to. The gradual assembling is another effects showcase, a decidedly gory one at that. West calls her "what no man's mind and no woman's womb ever dreamed of," but the large crew of effects magicians has simply gone abracadaver. Kathleen Kinmont is no Elsa Lancaster, but when her love for Cain is unrequited, she gives new meaning to Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces."

Though creepy Jeffrey Combs and beach boy Bruce Abbott return as West and Cain, producer Brian Yusna has replaced Stuart Gordon in the director's chair, without bringing new life to the affair. Even the jokes in the Woody Keith/Rick Fry screenplay seem refried, suggesting that all too much of this "Bride" is old and borrowed: "Evil Dead" loonies stumble through the crimson landscape, "Nightbreed" nightmares lurk in the basement, and there's entirely too much self-reference. There are also enough tangled relationships here to qualify the film as a soap opera. Still, at the end, after Dr. Cain and his real love interest have survived an underground Armageddon and he takes her in his arms, you won't have any trouble forgiving her for checking to see that they're really his arms.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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