Between the years 1993 and 2000, George Romero was not forgotten, though he was on something of an unwanted hiatus at that time. In spite of a few box office flops, Romero didn’t stop trying to get back into the horror scene, but during that hiatus, several projects he was attached to – including Resident Evil, The Mummy and The Stand – were stuck in development hell. Unfortunately for Romero (and for Romero fans), none of these projects came to fruition; instead they went to other directors who had great success with them.
After a few failed attempts to get projects off the ground, Romero returned with another original horror film of his own, but to this day it hasn’t received the recognition it deserves.
Bruiser is a horror story about dignity and pride. Henry Creedlow is a man that doesn’t want to fall short of his expectations. He tries his hardest for his wife, boss, and friends on a consistent basis. Henry is a good guy and people know that. However, they always take advantage of him. One day, Henry wakes up and realizes that his face is gone, replaced with a white canvas. No texture, no structure, just blank white. Nothing. It’s more than his face that’s gone, it’s his identity, too. Henry soon realizes that the only way to regain everything back is to make the wrong things right and finally stand up for himself. Once he does that, he regains his pride, well-being, and his identity. It will just take a few deaths to achieve this status, naturally.
In 2000, Bruiser brought Romero back into the fold but it suffered horribly due to the fact that it lacked promotion and was only released in Canada at the time. By the time it got to the States, it was pirated and being sold illegally at conventions throughout the world. Sadly, by the time it had a wide release, it was too late, marking another failure for Romero. Even when torrenting wasn’t around, bootleg VHS tapes and DVDs were the main source of trading among horror enthusiasts and this is a prime example on how these types of things can harm a film.
In 2002, Bruiser was widely (and legally) released on VHS and DVD and could be found at most retailers and rental stores. But after its official release in the US, the film still suffered, with the majority of horror fans looking at the cover and thinking it was another ripoff of Halloween because of the white mask on the front. The early 2000’s weren’t the best times for DTV (Direct-to-Video) horror flicks anyway, and most big rental stores only received one or two copies on DVD and maybe one copy of a VHS tape.
Long story short, Bruiser was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
A lot of little films like this suffered during this time and didn’t really get noticed until later in life; some even achieved cult status later down the line. We didn’t have Redbox or Netflix, so a ton of little indies just collected dust on shelves. And Bruiser, well, it never did attain much of a following.
But for hardcore Romero fans, Bruiser was in many ways a return to form for the horror master. Just like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, Romero had something to say about the world and the people in it with his 2000 return. Bruiser tackles society as a whole and what it can do to a person. It’s not a supernatural aspect when the white face appears on our lead character; there is something to be said about what happens to him and I think a lot of people missed that point and still do. Most of Romero’s films are outstanding, in large part because he knew how to blend real life into horror. Deep down, that’s the real horror; not the zombies, the monkey, the white face, or the wannabe vampire.
With Bruiser, another horror film rich with social commentary, Romero created one of the most memorable and likable “villains” in the genre. When is the last time you truly cared for the killer? Someone that you want to see prevail even when they are murdering their friends and family? Bruiser is one of those films that won’t leave you because it’s so unique. People may look at the film and see it as a revenge slasher, but it’s a lot more than that once you scrape off the surface.
Not only does the film have an interesting plot, but it’s also got original music by The Misfits and a special appearance by them as well. Jason Flemyng is another treat in the film. Jason had been in the industry for a while playing bit parts here and there, never getting that leading man role, and he really let his talents shine with this character and showed that he can carry a film by himself. The surrounding cast is great as well; notably, the detective is played by horror veteran Tom Atkins.
In the year 2000, George Romero made an amazing film that is undervalued even to the most hardcore horror fans and it’s time that Henry Creedlow gets the attention he deserves.