Thursday, 17 March 2016


based on the short stories by h.p. lovecraft, re-animator follows a brilliant medical student, herbert west (jeffrey combs), who has discovered a way to bring the dead back to life. west finds the perfect accomplice in fellow student dan cain (bruce abbott) but things soon spiral out of control when the two of them decide to perfect west's serum via the use of increasingly more ambitious test subjects.

i have always been a little bit in love with jeffrey combs. he's such a striking presence onscreen, particularly in this film, and he manages to make west seem intelligent and brilliant simply from the expression on his face and the way he moves. at the same time, he portrays west like an alien, curious about human behaviour but not understanding it himself. i always thought he would make a great sherlock holmes. it's a fantastic, understated performance and one of the finest in horror movie history. in a way it's a shame that the film isn't really about herbert west.

this is a story about dan cain and his frustration with the limits of human capability, as well as his girlfriend, megan (barbara crampton) who acts as his conscience. it's kind of like dr. frankenstein has been split into three people, west, cain and megan, but really it's cain's story. he's the character who goes from someone who has a problem to stepping into a strange new world with herbert west, and in the end we see exactly how it has changed him.

re-animator also works as a kind of splatter slap-stick comedy. in the making-of documentary on the blu-ray director stuart gordon and producer brian yuzna both talk about how the opening scene was added later to set the tone of the film and it really works. the gore is so over-the-top it's hilarious, but still manages to be disgusting at the same time. there's some great physical humour from the actors too, particularly in the scene in which west and cain are trying to catch a re-animated cat. the final sequence is a wonderful mix of extreme gore and chaotic silliness that strikes the balance between horror and comedy just right. there are also some more subtle jokes, like the fact that cain has a huge 'stop making sense' poster above his bed and later has to contend with a villainous talking head.

for a film from 1985 re-animator still holds up and for me the only part that is really dated is the rather uncomfortable sexual assault in the final scenes in the movie. gordon and yuzna set out to push boundaries and the fact that they did so is party why the film remains so fondly remembered today, but that one scene is pretty distasteful, not because of what we're watching but because it's played for laughs. it's hard to imagine that it would be approached in the same way today, and part of what makes it stand out so badly is that the rest of the film gets the tone so right.

i've owned several versions of re-animator over the years, but the blu-ray is definitely worth picking up. the film looks better than it ever has, plus as well as the unrated version there's the 'integral' cut of the film which includes all the deleted scenes. to be honest, as with most deleted scenes they were clearly cut for good reason, but it is interesting to see the full cut of the film with these scenes included. overall, this is a fantastic release of a horror classic that for the most part improves with age.

second sight released re-animator on blu-ray on 14 march 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, don't remember the final scene that you mentioned. Now what can I do to remember it...?