Re-Animator Movie Review

The heady and fabulously gruesome works of H.P. Lovecraft have lent the plotlines to more than 20 movies, and most of these films are unbearable direct-to-video shlock.

But 1985's cult classic Re-Animator launched this return to Lovecraft's work, and if later filmmakers had learned anything from Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna's horror masterpiece, they would have assured old H.P. a much stronger legacy.

Re-Animator is Lovecraft's twist on the Frankenstein fable, this time involving a fluorescent green liquid that, when injected into a dead brain, will bring its host back to life. The catch: It's not a very good life; the re-animated become shrieking zombies bent on violence. Working out the kinks in his serum is Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), a creepy med student who rents a room from Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), who happens to be dating the daughter (Barbara Crampton) of the med school dean (Robert Sampson). But he's at odds with professor Carl Hill (David Gale), whose old theories on brain death need updating -- and what better way to do so than to steal West's research. What follows is of course, a gore-infused body count where if one character dies, they simply come back as a howling half-dead beast.

Jeffrey Combs launched a career in cult horror with this film, and he stands next to Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) as one of the heroes of the genre. The story isn't all that original, but Lovecraft's creepy spin makes the Franken-legend much more fun than traditional versions. The gore, obviously low budget and almostly completely shot at night, is nonetheless effective, creepy, and on the unrated DVD edition (the original version shown in theaters), remarkably effective to the point of visceral overload. I had to avert my gaze more than once. Also of note is the green re-animation liquid, an innovation that still gets copied today (and who can blame them?).

Also on this new double-disc DVD are a remastered THX soundtrack, two commentary tracks (one from director Gordon, the other from Yuzna and virtually the whole cast), and the toned-down scenes from the R-rated version you typically see (lame!). There's also a dream sequence deleted from the movie altogether, tons of interviews, storyboards, photos, filmographies... geez, it never stops.

Re-Animator got the sequel treatment in 1990's Bride of Re-Animator, and believe it or not, Yuzna's at work on another one, Beyond Re-Animator, due this year. Yikes!


Comments

Re-Animator Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 1985

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