We have before us an obscenely gory horror heavyweight from the 80’s: the comedic critical darling Re-Animator (1985). Essentially a live-action cartoon, it’s campy as they come — with blood as red as cherries — and one that definitely needs to be watched on an empty stomach.
Not for the faint of heart or anyone who has issues with violent cadaver explosions. But aren’t you kind of into that sort of thing? Excellent.
The undead come to life in this pony show thanks to a little guy called ‘reagent’, a chemical developed through experimentation by one Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs). The plot is based loosely on the H.P. Lovecraft short story “Herbert West — Reanimator,” and like its namesake, we see an extended investigation into what lengths the reanimation serum can go to……always with disgusting results.
After successfully (somewhat) reanimating his dead professor, West sets up shop at the Miskatonic University in New England where he rooms with friendly medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott). The ambitious West quickly makes enemies with faculty member Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) — who has pilfered from West’s former professor’s studies.
The school’s dean Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson) is soon on West’s bad side as well. Dean Halsey is also father to Megan (Barbara Crampton), Cain’s fiancée and our 80s Scarlet Johansson cheesecake interest this time around.
Rather than get wasted at a bar like normal medical students, Cain and West sneak into the school’s morgue to reanimate a corpse. But as all groundbreaking and ingenious scientific ventures must go awry, the reanimated man goes on a murderous rampage. Dean Halsey stumbles on the scene and is promptly murdered by said reanimated subject. West, charming scientist he is, seizes the moment for science and injects the fresh corpse, reanimating the dean as a zombie. Just wait until Dr. Hill finds out about it all and then the lid finally blows off this one: I promise headless zombie antics (of a foul, perverted kind) and mind-control. It’s off to the races!
Morgue, Morgue, Morgue! How Do You Like It? How Do You Like It?
I’ll be damned if this ain’t a gory one: John Naulin, who worked on the film’s makeup effects, studied photos out of Illinois’s Cook County morgue. Respected horror director Stuart Gordon also joined him in studying a book on forensic pathology in order to get the skin tone of blood settling in a corpse juuuuuusst right. Naulin claims the blood used in the film clocks in at 24 gallons.
Re-Animator begot Bride of Re-Animator (1990) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), neither as successful or noteworthy as the original. Critics really enjoyed the first go-round, from Roger Ebert to David Edelstein of the Village Voice. If you look up “romp” in the dictionary, you might as well see a photo of Jeffrey Combs.
The film defined the B-movie for a new generation, right on the heels of fellow genre classic The Evil Dead (1981). And in 2006, Herbert West finally met his match in the four-issue crossover comic Army of Darkness Vs. Re-animator, in which Ash Williams is admitted to Arkham Asylum and meets up with West. It may not have been as entertaining as when Ash crossed paths with Obama, but it still caused the pitching of tents of horror fans around the world – a testament to the sick love still had for this pulsing zombie brain.
This is the King of B-Movies, it was shot in only 22 days on a budget of around $800K, and it remains loved by Horror fans the world over.
Watch the full length film of Re-Animator below:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Ben Mueller