It would be difficult to get through any best of 80s horror list without mentioning the ‘Re-animator’ in some capacity. Helmed by Stuart Gordon and staring genre favourite Jeffry Combs, the films twist on the zombie genre, and subtle love story plot, all work together to produce a film which continues to persist through each subsequent release. This restorative HD release from Second Sight further secures the films legacy!
The plot, for new initiates, sees one crazy scientist with a ‘Reanimation’ formula, an impressionable medical student with access to countless corpses and a whole lot of other random shit!
Obsessive Herbert West (Combs) seeks to pursue his quest for the formula for eternal live regardless of the cost, and despite constant hindrance from those who consider his work immoral or impossible, he actually manages to make fairly solid progress. As the story progresses both through circumstance and also in part the sheer charisma of West’s resolve, Dan Cain, a fellow student becomes a frequent partner in the ‘research’. In a retelling of H.P Lovecraft’s story, the subjects start small, until ‘full animation’ becomes the order of the day – then things get really bizzare!
Combining trends from the flourishing zombie scene in the US and modernising the traditional themes of the Frankenstein story what we actually get is a horror movie with soul. The plot is actually far more character orientated than my synopsis would indicate. The acting is OTT, but perfect for the theme. The story is cleverly interwoven so that there is never any down time in the whole film. Again, bucking the traditional trend, this movie continue develops the story even into the third act, with different characters taking on further ‘post-humous’ roles thanks to West’s magic potion. That’s not to say there aren’t some dumb sequences, and perhaps some odd conversations here and there which stand out of place, considering the outlandish scenarios they take place after! Still, nothing to detract more than a few minutes and with critics almost unanimous in their praise for the film, it is perhaps the attention to detail in both its plot and characters that made the difference.
Naturally, where any gore movie really establishes its fan base is through the quality and quantity of the gore effects. Here, and especially in the ‘integral’ cut provided as part of Second Sight’s release, we get to see the whole shebang – with clarity! The Re-animator delivers both quality and quantity by the bucket load. Gooey and completely gross-out, with the effects being some of the best around. With films like this being almost completely devoid of CGI, you can see why there is such a high demand some 25 years later for practical effects. Like a tick-box rosta of ‘best of gory scenes’ the Re-animator pretty much inspired generations of gore films to come. Put it simply, if you like gory movies, you will pretty much already consider this a classic. If you’re just getting into them, this is one of the essential views.
Overall there is little more to say about the film that 2 decades of critics already haven’t. From my perspective, it is the quality of the release which gets the 5 stars here (along with the film of course). A complete version of the film, full HD, Uncut with some outstanding box-art. Go buy it already.