Director – Stuart Gordon
Cast – Jeffrey Combes, Bruce Abbot, Barbara Cramptom, David Gale, Robert Sampson, Gerry Black, Carolyn Purdy -Gordon
Release Year – 1985
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Boy does this film bring back memories. I remember first seeing this film way back when I was a child, and then after many many years of only catching the heavily edited bits and pieces of the film on the Sci-Fi Channel I was finally was able to locate and purchase the Millennium Edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Re-Animator”. H.P Lovecraft has got to be the most influential horror/fantasy writer of all time. As of today his writing is credited in 85 films that adapted his stories for the big screen. He is also given writing credits based on “inspiration” due to the many aspects of horror he created. H.P. Lovecraft is coined as the creator of the “Necronomicon” idea, which is a book made of human flesh that includes demon resurrections written in human blood. One film that immediately comes to mind when mentioning the Necronomicon” is of course…”The Evil Dead“, as well as it’s two sequels. The fact that so many well known horror films have borrowed from Mr. Lovecraft or were adapted from his stories just only prove my point that he is horror’s most well known, and well received writer…even more so than Stephen King and Clive Barker.
This film brings us one of horror’s quirkiest and most well received characters…Herbert West(Jeffrey Combes). After a deadly incident involving a famous Swiss doctor he was doing research with, Herbert West transfers to the Miskatonic University to finish his last year of medical school. Mr. West’s main interest of study: reanimating the dead. After answering an ad for an apartment vacancy, Mr. West befriends a young and aspiring third-year medical student named Daniel Cain. Daniel and his future fiancé Megan are thrown into insane circumstances when Mr. West decides to his work he started in Austria down in the basement of Daniel’s apartment. When Daniel sees the genius behind Herbert’s work, he decides to help him break into the morgue at the hospital they work/study at, which leads to very gory(and disastrous) results.
Re-Animator is one of those films that you just can’t go wrong with. This cult horror film put director Stuart Gordon and actor Jeffrey Combes on the map and opened the doors for them to become the great horror icons they are now. Released in 1985, “Re-Animator” really solidifies the pretty much non-negotiable notion that the 1980’s own the horror world as the greatest, most fun decade of horror. I found myself enjoying this film from beginning to end; starting with the quirky, no nonsense Herbert West, to the infamous gore scenes the film uses during it’s epic climax. Speaking of gore…director Stuart Gordon(or should I say GOREdon) delivers the goods in this film. From re-animating a cat, re-animating corpses in the morgue, and re-animating the dead colleagues killed in the process, this film gives us buckets of blood and lots of dancing corpses, NAKED dancing corpses! And who doesn’t love naked dancing corpses? Huh? We also get Herbert West re-animating a human head, a human head with a very vengeful headless body that does not appreciate what Mr. West did to it’s cranial area. Can this movie sound any cooler?
Well…it does get cooler. The score for this film is amazing for the quirky feel of the film(a remixed version of the “Psycho“ score), and provides a fun, yet “I know this is going to get scary” atmosphere. Stuart Gordon gives us some pretty tense scenes, and tops them off not with a “whew that was close” getaway but a “Damn! Now what are they going to do?” feel as our main characters slowly dig themselves deeper and deeper into trouble…all for the name of science! Warning: Biology and lab geeks(like myself) or even fans of the tv show House may enjoy this film more than others due to it’s subject material. Haha! I also found that this film paces very well, and I really must applaud Stuart Gordon for not letting this film drag. Pretty impressive for being only his second film, and first feature film as a director eh?
Lastly, I must say that one of the most memorable characters in this film is that of Dr. Carl Hill(David Gale) due to the fact that he HONESTLY looks AND talks exactly like current Massachusetts Senator and former Democratic Presidential Nominee…John Kerry! I kid you not, every time I view this film I keep thinking that to myself, and everyone I know who has viewed this film agrees with me! Super Warning: Avid fans of John Kerry and sore losers of the 2004 Presidential Election may like this film less due to it’s accidental portrayal(the film came out in 1985 for crying out loud!) of Mr. John “Swift Boat” Kerry. Haha!
Overall, this is one of horror’s most notable films, and is a fun ride from beginning to end. Highly recommended.