Sunday, May 29, 2011

#296. Re-Animator (1985)

Directed By: Stuart Gordon

Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton

Tag line: "Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders... And Another One In A Dish On His Desk"

Trivia:  The special effects department went through 25 gallons of fake blood during the shoot

My first inclination as I sit down to write up my thoughts on Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator is to fling a series of superlatives your way. 

Many come leaping to mind, including ”thrilling”, “remarkable”, and even “fantabulous” (which is strange, seeing as I never once used that word before today). 

I could go on and on, filling this entire piece with one glowing adjective after another, strung together to convey the excitement I now feel at having re-visited this film.  But I will exercise restraint, and limit my praise to the following, simple remark: 

Re-Animator is one hell of an entertaining motion picture! 

Eager young scientist Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), who spent several years studying in Zurich, returns to the United States under the pretense that he wishes to continue his education at Miskatonic University, a prestigious Massachusetts-based medical school. 

But the truth of the matter is that West is just looking for some peace and quiet in which to continue his “experiments”: the re-animation of dead tissue. Shortly after settling in, West goes to work testing a serum he believes will bring the dead back to life, and even convinces his new roommate, Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), to assist him. 

The serum is a success, but with one terrible side effect: those brought back no longer resemble human beings!  They are, instead, bloodthirsty creatures that threaten the safety of everyone they encounter, including West himself.  

There isn't a bad performance to be found in Re-Animator. Bruce Abbott is solid as Dan Cain, the young man who is engaged to be married to Megan (Barbara Crampton), the daughter of Miskatonic's Dean, Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson). By assisting Herbert West in his questionable “experiments”, Dan puts his entire future in jeopardy.  

Also excellent is David Gale as leading brain surgeon and noted professor, Dr. Carl Hill, who quarrels openly with West. A shady sort, Hill also has his eye on Megan, and will stop at nothing to possess her. 

But the stand-out performance is delivered by Jeffrey Combs, who is wonderful as the oft-obnoxious Herbert West. Herbert is as arrogant as he is brilliant; when first introduced to Dr. Hill, Herbert insults him by calling his theories on brain death “out-dated”. He is a pompous, self-centered jerk, but an extremely bright one, and Combs perfectly conveys every nuance of this complex character's personality. 

To coincide with his engaging characters, director Stuart Gordon fills Re-Animator with plenty of eye-popping gore (an appropriate description, when you consider what happens to West's first human guinea pig). At one point, West and Cain sneak into a morgue and administer a dose of serum to a recently deceased patient named Melvin (played by Peter Kent). As expected, Melvin leaps to his feet and begins tearing the place apart, going so far as to bite off a few of Dean Halsey's fingers in the process. It's the first of several blood-soaked scenes, but far from the bloodiest. 

Lifting my temporary ban on hyperbole, let me conclude by saying that Re-Animator is a gloriously over-the-top horror/comedy featuring a number of fascinating characters, encapsulated within a story that flows with vivacity and verve. I simply cannot recommend this film enough.


Anonymous said...

got no14-listened-shocked, i will miss this podcast very much, juliette, denver.

DVD Infatuation said...

Juliette: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

I will also miss Planet Macabre. It was an excellent experience, made all the more so by the many dedicated fans who expressed such enthusiasm for each and every new episode. We greatly appreciate the support, and sincerely thank everyone for listening over the past few months.

Anonymous said...

I just got wind of podcast ending I don't know how I got my wires crossed and missed this last week.

I am puzzled at to why that smack Greg was leading that guy needs alot of work it was really offputting.

I will miss you Doctor and all the horror discussions.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for the comment, and please know we will miss the awesome support of the fans, which has been so incredible over these past months.

Take care, and thanks for listening!

Lady Phantom said...

DOCTOR!! Hey, you leave me no choice but to see this movie, since you recommend it so highly!! Loe ya!!

Lady Phantom

DVD Infatuation said...

Hello, Lady! Thanks for the comment.

As a warning, there's plenty of blood and gore in RE-ANIMATOR, but I did really enjoy it.

I hope you and the baby are doing well, and thanks for stopping by! I miss our chats!

Lady Phantom said...

I know, me too!! I miss all of you guys very much. Now, is there more blood than on Saw? Because you know I love all of those movies...

DVD Infatuation said...

Lady: I can't say for sure whether there's "more blood" than SAW, but I will say the gore in this film is completely different (mostly...and it seems strange saying this about blood and's more light-hearted).

We miss you as well, and I hope to talk to you soon!