Release Date(s)1991/2003 (June 1, 2018)
Studio(s)50th Street Films/Lionsgate Entertainment (Umbrella Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B+
- Overall Grade: B
[Editor’s Note: This is a REGION FREE Blu-ray release.]
Umbrella Entertainment’s Worlds on Film: Beyond Genres line of titles continues with Vol 2: Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator. Bride is the 1991 sequel to Re-Animator and Beyond is third entry in the series from 2003, both directed by the original film’s producer Brian Yuzna. They continue the misadventures of Dr. Herbert West, played by Jeffrey Combs, a mad scientist who develops a way of bringing dead tissue back to life, but with monstrously chaotic results.
Bride of Re-Animator is not an altogether flawless film, by any means. It has its share of problems, mainly due to the burden of the bar being set so high by the first film. From a character perspective, it’s difficult to believe that Dr. Cain would continue to go along with West and do even more experiments after all of the murderous pandemonium that ensued the last time around. On the other hand, there’s still plenty about the film to appreciate, including the amazing special effects. All of the gore gags and abnormally-reattached body parts, including the various monstrosities that West is hiding in the cemetery, are extremely weird and very well-done. And knowing that they were created by some of horror’s make-up effects all-stars, including KNB, John Carl Buechler, and Screaming Mad George, makes them all the more special.
The follow-up, Beyond of Re-Animator, is a bit more unusual by comparison. Taking place in a prison after West is locked away for his crimes, it isn’t long before he’s up to his old experimental tricks again. Having a sequel that takes place so many years later can normally spell disaster. But in this case, it seems that Yuzna had a few more ideas. To be clear, there are parts of the film that are great, and some that are not so great. As per usual, Screaming Mad George’s gore effects and make-up appliances are spectacular, but it just isn’t enough. The performances and the story are both lackluster at best. Basically, anybody who isn’t Jeffrey Combs is questionable, despite having a batch of fresh faces due to where the film was shot, which was Spain.
Both Bride and Beyond feature the great, over-the-top, and outrageous material you would expect from the Re-Animator series, but it’s ultimately dwindling returns. Beyond in particular feels its length. And yet somehow, there’s something oddly comforting about the series staying within the grasp of its immediate family, meaning Combs and Yuzna. I’ll also take many of the laugh-inducing moments of both of these films, however dull the other elements surrounding them may be at times, over many of the more serious and soulless horror films of today.
Umbrella’s Region Free Blu-ray release of both films features two different kinds of transfers. Bride is obviously sourced from Arrow Video’s recent 2K restorations of both versions of the film, which carry the final approval of Brian Yuzna himself. Because the R-rated version has been sourced from a second generation 35mm interpositive and the Unrated version utilizes a composite master positive for the extended sequences, there’s a noticeable visual difference at times. Overall, grain is mostly well-refined and organic in appearance, showing off a nice amount of fine detail. Colors are pretty strong, particularly greens and reds, although a tad inconsistent. Black levels also suffer a little due to some minor crush (which might stem from the original cinematography). Skin tones are also good, and both contrast and brightness levels are acceptable. There’s some slight instability from time to time, but otherwise the presentation is mostly clean and clear. The R-rated version doesn’t have a grain field that’s quite as refined and the overall image is a little softer in appearance. Colors are also not as strong, but everything else appears pretty much the same.
For Beyond, the Uncut version of the film is provided in, what appears to be, an older transfer, likely the same used for other overseas releases (although that’s just a guess on my part). Everything appears clean and clear, perhaps a little too clean, as in some sharpening and excessive DNR were applied to it. However, nothing appears overly waxy or soft. Mild speckling can be observed from time to time, but the film never appears to have a natural grain overlay. Colors, what little of them are present, have some potency, particularly concerning any of the gore effects. Overall brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory, as are black levels. It’s not an exceedingly detail-oriented presentation and everything appears a bit flat without much depth, but for an older transfer, it’s certainly not bad.
For the audio on Bride, a single English 2.0 DTS-HD track is available with optional subtitles in English. Dialogue is usually clean and clear, and both sound effects and score have plenty of life to them. There isn’t much to be had in terms of aggressive dynamics, but it’s a pretty solid stereo presentation, overall. For Beyond, an English 5.1 DTS-HD track is provided, also with optional subtitles in English. It’s an above-average surround track, especially for a low budget film, but there aren’t many instances of speaker to speaker movement. Ambient activity, as well as score, does tend to hover towards the rear while dialogue and other sound effects fill up the front. Both tracks are clean with no dropouts or other instances of damage leftover.
BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B+
BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C+/B-/B
For the extras, everything has been carried over from previous releases of both films. Bride of Re-Animator features three audio commentaries on the Unrated version of the film: one with director Brian Yuzna; another with Yuzna, Combs, visual effects supervisor Tom Rainone, and the special effects team including John Carl Buechler, Mike Deak, Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger, and Screaming Mad George; and another with Combs and actor Bruce Abbott. There are also three featurettes, including the 10-minute Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-Animator, the 15-minute Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-Animator, and the 24-minute Getting Ahead in Horror; a vintage making-of; a nearly 15-minute behind the scenes reel; 2 deleted scene reconstructions; the 72-minute Dark Adventure Radio Presents: Herbert West Re-Animator with Erskine Blackwell, a 2013 Mercury Theatre audio adaptation of the original story (unique to this release); and the film’s original theatrical trailer. All that’s missing is the insert booklet from the Arrow Video Blu-ray release and the reprinting of the prequel comic “Dawn of the Re-Animator”.
For Beyond, all of the legacy extras are present, including an audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna; The Making of Beyond Re-Animator, an 18-minute featurette which was created during the making of the film and features interviews with various crew and actors, many of whom speak in their native tongue with subtitles; the Dr. Re-Animator “Move Your Dead Bones” music video; 18 minutes of additional interview footage with Brian Yuzna and actors Santiago Segura, Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Simon Andreu, and Elsa Pataky (sourced from the same footage used for the making-of featurette); 12 1/2 minutes of behind the scenes b-roll footage; and the film’s trailer.
Both Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator excel when it comes to their effects, but unfortunately, their stories just aren’t as interesting the second and third time around. Yet, they can be forgiven at times due their many memorable sequences. For Aussies who’ve been missing out on these films in HD (as well as hardcore fans from around the world), this is a very attractive package with gorgeous artwork, worthy of Umbrella’s new line of titles.
- Tim Salmons