Thirteen years had passed since Bride of Re-Animator. Enough time for people to forgive how bad that movie was, and long enough for them to long for the return of Jeffery Combs in his signature role. In many ways, it was worth the wait.
The opening minutes prior to the credits could almost stand alone as a short, showing how other people were affected by the events in "Bride of Re-Animator". Dark and nicely done, it sets up the rest of the movie nicely for now Dr. West is behind bars.
As the film progresses the largest disappointment is the absence of Bruce Abbott as Dan Cain. The only mention of the character is when Dr. West tells his new partner that, "My last partner turned state's evidence against me." I'm not alone in missing Bruce Abbott's presence in the movie and I certainly hope that Dan Cain returns if there is indeed a fourth installment of the series.
Still, the movie actually succeeds at being rather creepy at times. A wonderfully over the top performance by Simón Andreu as the Warden carries on the tradition of the late David Gale's character, Doctor Carl Hill. The Warden carries with him a dark air of S&M/D&S that is disturbing on several levels. While this is a much more minor role that Dr. Hill, it seems a bit more realistic and less cartoonish (for the most part - by the end all bets are off).
The story itself does continue the progression of Dr. West's work fairly well and introduces us to a new substance, a bio-electric plasma that may very well be the soul (though West would never admit as much). Based on the old wives tale of the body losing weight at death, this energy allows for some interesting behavioral imprinting towards the end of the movie and also provides for the film's newest Re-Animation effect, the shimmering yellow energy that is used in conjunction with the now famous re-agent.
Of course, some portions of the movie are so cliché that you can see them coming from a mile away. This is a Re-Animator movie and so there must be loads of zombies, there are. The villain must be among the zombies, he is. This is a "Prison" movie and so there must be a riot, there is. Certainly, parts of the movie are weak. Not only is this a Re-Animator movie, but it is a Re-Animator prison movie. Yet despite a fairly weak script, the movie is well paced and fun ("Fun" being the operative word here, because this isn't a "good" movie).
That is really the key to the Re-Animator series, even among many Lovecraft purists, the dirty little secret, and the guilty pleasure that is Jeffery Combs as Herbert West. With a cult following that nearly rivals Bruce Campbell's "Ash" (though a bit more sane) Comb's Dr. West has carried the series and, if more films are made, will continue to carry them.
There are a few moments that were wholly unnecessary, including the kung-fu battle between a re-animated rat and a re-animated penis that runs during the credits. This really didn't need to be done...really. Actually, all of the unnecessary scenes are, as one would expect from Yuzna, sexually inclined. The Warden’s severed penis and the chewing of Nurse Vanessa’s breast just point to the adolescent humor that plagued Bride of Re-Animator. Fortunately, this time there is far less and the film survives despite this.
Overall, the movie is worth watching. Still I'm disappointed (again) with the extras on the DVD. There are only two extras. The first is a music video for a dance song called "Move Your Dead Bones" which, while interesting, is not a song that even appears in the movie.
Secondly there is a making of special that is mostly in Spanish. Still, it gives a bit of insight into Yuzna's thinking, which makes it interesting. That's it though, no other extras. In a time when extras are the driving force of a DVD, to find that a newly released film has so little is just plain disappointing.