Re-Animator (1985)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay Reissue)
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Overall Rating 78%
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Connections: Re-Animator

A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus. --IMDb
Jeffrey Combs
Jeffrey Combs
Bruce Abbott
Bruce Abbott
Barbara Crampton
Barbara Crampton
David Gale
David Gale
Robert Sampson
Robert Sampson
Review by Chad
Added: August 14, 2007
I've got a running list of movies in my head that really need a review on this site, but what sets these select few movies apart from the millions of other films out there is the fact that I love them so much that I feel as though I simply couldn't do them justice with words. Pulp Fiction is one of those films: I mean, honestly, how do you convey "I had a raging hard-on throughout the entire thing" with mere words on a screen? Re-Animator is another one of those films, and thanks to those of you who voted it up on the suggestions page (who says we don't listen to you?), I'm going to give reviewing this one the old college try.

Our storyline for this one centers on Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), a pair of medical students who have vastly different thoughts on how to move forward with their chosen professions. Dan is your typical student: eager to please his teachers, a bit of a suck-up, and oh - he's also sleeping with Megan (Barbara Crampton), who just so happens to be the dean's daughter. Herbert, on the other hand, has strong opinions about the human brain and isn't afraid to let his voice be heard, even if it means pissing off his teachers by throwing their research in their face as foolish and outdated. The human brain can only survive for six to twelve minutes after death, they say? Screw that - Herbert says that he can bring the dead back to life hours or even days after they've dropped dead thanks to his new regenerating serum.

This claim is soon proven to be true, and it leads to everyone involved finding themselves in a world of trouble. You see, the serum does work as the dead are indeed brought back to life just as he promised. However, this miracle comes with a price: if the reanimated corpse isn't brought back to life immediately after they've died, they operate only on their primal instincts, which means that there's a whole lot of vicious attacks to be found during the first couple of attempts. Then, after this little catch is discovered and a few mishaps have occurred, a high-ranking professor (David Gale) is brought back to life mere moments after passing on... and although he does retain some of his human traits, he's also taken a huge turn towards the evil side. It's up to Herbert and Dan to put an end to him and all of the other corpses running about, but will they be enough?

Without question, the best aspect of this film is the way that Stuart Gordon seamlessly blended together the horror and the humor. Both of these characteristics are handled flawlessly, and the result is a film that goes back and forth between scaring you out of your wits and making your sides hurt from laughing so much. I was also a fan of the way that even the things that really shouldn't have been funny (and indeed, probably wouldn't have been in another movie) were made to be humorous courtesy of the way that the scene was shot and the way that the characters handled the situations at hand. For example, watch how Herbert handles the decapitated head of his former professor just moments after cutting it off with a shovel: his actions alone weren't exactly the definition of hilarity, but the smug "Guess I outsmarted you" look on his face as he did it just made the scene. There are countless examples of this throughout the film, and I loved each and every last one of them.

Now, that isn't to say that this film is a comedy or even a full-fledged horror-comedy; no sir, this film rests comfortably within the horror genre at its core thanks to its perfect storyline which is actually sort of chilling when you really stop and think about it. Also, those of you who like a little bit of the red stuff with your horror will be in for a treat. Bonesaws are used in inventive ways, heads are crushed, blood oozes from the reanimated corpses' bodily orifices, and it seems as though not three scenes go by before we're seeing yet another grisly murder or dismembering. That certainly isn't a complaint, and I'm sure that most of you readers will agree.

There's a reason that this is the film that put Stuart Gordon's name on the map, and there's also a very good reason why it's hailed as such a classic amongst horror fans. Jeffrey Combs is beyond excellent in his co-starring role, the subtle Psycho nods with the score raises the geek-out factor, and the overall package is a film that can be watched again and again. 10/10.
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 08/14/2007, 01:27 PM
What's not to love about this film. Features one of the most amazing horror sequences ever, involving a severed head and...well...you know. Stuart Gordon has always been an underrated director, in my opinion -- most recently with "Edmond" starring William H. Macy. This is his best film, of course, and it also turned him into the iconic horror director he is today. The films still stands the tests of time and delivers ample scares and laughs in what has now become known as 'classic Stuart Gordon style'. Thoroughly enjoyed and thoroughly recommended. 10/10.
Ginose #2: Ginose - added 08/14/2007, 01:57 PM
Stuart Gordon has always been an idol of mine, primarily because of his entry into the true circuit of cult film. "Re-Animator" is based, thought not entirely, on the Lovecraft story 'Herbert West: Reanimator' a certainly takes the gist of the story to great lengths. But, at the same time, Gordon has seemed to accept that capturing the true terrfying essence of Lovecraft was nay impossible on his budget (or any budget, so I've gathered through these years of searching for an effective Lovecraft experience) so he did the next best thing: Made a Lovecraftian B-horror movie. This is truly a fantastic film. Creepy when need be, hillarious when need be, all the performances are spot on and the head scene... I'm sorry, but if you can't enjoy a scene like that then you never should have tried to like this movie in the first place. 9.8/10 for one of the few truly master-grade b-movies in existence.
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 08/14/2007, 10:30 PM
The nail was hit, on its head. What's great is that in some sense, "Re-Animator" is a Lovecraft parody, but lovingly so. On the other hand, it stays true to the whole methodology behind the story and definitely takes Lovecraft in a whole new and exciting direction. But you said it best -- Lovecraft is impossible to transfer successfully from page to screen, most times, because it would require too large a budget.
Cryptorchild #4: Cryptorchild - added 08/23/2007, 10:25 PM
This movie is a classic. It doesn't get much better than this.
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 11/08/2007, 09:02 PM
Looks like I'm the odd man out. I loved this movie, don't get me wrong. But I hardly see it as the amazing masterpiece everybody praises it for being. It's both scary and funny, but it's not as good as I expected it to be. 8.5/10
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