Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Re-Animator Film Review



I Gave Him Life!

The 1980’s was a great decade for horror fans. With tons of B-movie style splatter flicks all over the cinemas, gore aficionados had a lot of choices. This was also the decade that the ultimate horror classic, The Evil Dead, took the horror world by storm with its madcap mix of horror and comedy. There was another all time horror classic that came out in this decade that is a little overshadowed by the success of the Evil Dead films. This film is absolutely legendary in its own right, and has gained a massive cult following since its release. It’s loosely based off a series of short stories by horror master H.P. Lovecraft, and features some of the most hilarious and infamous scenes in horror history.

It is Re-Animator.

Herbert West (Jeffery Combs) is a brilliant medical student studying in Switzerland. A strange new concoction he calls “reagent” seemingly revives dead bodies, even after the six to twelve minute limit when brain function within the body ceases. After an experiment of his goes horribly wrong, he’s expelled from the school and forced to return to America. He finds himself at Miskatonic University, where he moves into his fellow student, Dan Cain’s (Bruce Abbott) apartment. Unbeknownst to Dan and his fiance Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), West decides to continue his research with the reagent in their basement.

One night after Megan’s cat dies, Dan catches West in the middle of one of his tests, and before his amazed eyes, West brings the dead cat to life. Dan goes to Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson), Megan’s father and Dean of Students at Miskatonic, with his amazing story, only to be met with scorn. Dean Halsey suspends West, but the determined madman refuses to have that stop him. Using Dan as his aide, West becomes more brazen with each day, experimenting on bodies in the hospital morgue.

Meanwhile, Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), a plagiarist and teacher at the school, begins learning more of West’s experiments and hatches a plot to steal West’s reagent and claim it as his.

Much like the second Evil Dead, Re-Animator combines gore soaked frights with side splitting humor to great effect. Sometimes you’ll find yourself laughing at something ridiculous, like when West reanimates the dead cat, when suddenly things take a turn for the bloody, and that laugh rapidly turns into a “hahahaha…ohhhhhhhhh”. These moments define this film and help it to stand out against other bloody flicks. If this film took itself too seriously, it would be impossible to enjoy.

The gore is so shocking and over the top that by the end of the film you’d feel horrible if this was a stone sober affair. The laughs (and sometimes hilariously cheesy effects) help to lighten the load, making this one of the most fun horror movies in the genre. From start to finish its impossible not to enjoy this film.

Adding to the fun is Jeffery Combs’ brilliant portrayal of Herbert West. Where many actors would have made West into a raving lunatic or stereotypical mad scientist, Combs plays West with a pure confidence that really makes you believe that this man is as brilliant as he is made out to be. In an odd way, West is almost the straight man in a wild comedy sketch. With so many zany things happening all the time, West’s character grounds the insanity in reality. I’d compare him to Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park.

In such an unbelievable situation, where long extinct dinosaurs have been brought back to life, Grant is the character that makes the whole scenario plausible as he is the only one who links the fantastic to the actual science behind the study of dinosaurs. In much the same way, West makes the whole conquering brain death thing seem plausible. Without him this story would have been far too fantastic and probably alienated its audience.

Now as far as the gore. This is probably one of the most insanely violent movies I’ve ever seen. Disembodied heads come to life, intestines seem to lash out of a corpse’s body with a mind of their own, and then there’s that scene where the disembodied head does that thing to the naked… well, I won’t spoil anything.

The gore leaps over the line on almost every occasion. Where most movies would be content showing a character die with a bubbling stream of blood flowing from their mouth, this movie has the character vomit up pools of viscera while their eyes explode like overripe melons being shot with a cannon. Once again I’d compare this film to Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. The gore is so over the top that it can’t helped but be laughed at, but at the same time it effectively unsettles you.

Re-Animator is absolutely deserving of its status as one of the ultimate horror classics of all time. With zany morbid comedy, an engaging and rapidly paced story, and an amazing performance from Jeffery Combs that really saves the film from itself, this is an absolute must see for horror fans. There is simply nothing quite like this film out there. This is 100% guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll ever have with the living dead.

Score: 9

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