It’s the movie that just won’t die.
Just when you think it’s safe to return the laboratory and conduct your experiments again, H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator in its entire gory splendor returns. This time, at long last, it takes to the halls of Science and Disgust in eye-popping High Definition. The movie is long considered to be the defining statement in 1980’s horror. It, alongside Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, changed the path horror films would take for almost a decade. Combining humor with over-the-top blood and even more guts, Re-Animator succeeds as being a darkly disturbing look at life after death.
Medical student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs who is excellent in the role and fully deserved of his Horror Icon status) arrives at Miskatonic University with the hopes of finding a professor that can teach him something he doesn’t already know about bringing the dead back to life. He rents a room with fellow student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), who is dating the dean’s daughter Megan (Barbara Crampton), and immediately sets up camp in the basement. What’s he building in there? Dan and Megan can hear noises, but never realize that he has his own private lab in there.
On campus he instantly earns the hatred of Professor Carl Hill (David Gale) as they argue quite heatedly over the subject of brain death. Driven to delve deeper into reanimation of dead flesh, West practices his formula on the pet cat and, after getting Dan to help him into the morgue, on the recently deceased. Re-Animator gleefully follows the unholy drama and sadism that happens when West makes waking the dead his business.
The H.P. Lovecraft story on which the film is based on, Herbert West, Re-Animator, might not be the best example of Lovecraft’s chilling body of work but, after being tweaked by director Stuart Gordon and co-writers William J. Norris and Dennis Paoli, serves as a strong enough backbone for some memorable moments and a lead character that would continue on for two more features (and a much rumored third if Gordon and Combs get their way). In fact, this film marks the return of Lovecraft’s source material in Hollywood after a long absence when Rod Serling’s Night Gallery shut its doors in 1973. Both twisted and scathingly funny, the script – just like the well-rehearsed cast – fires on all cylinders for maximum enjoyment.
Perhaps one of the best things about Re-Animator is its use of practical (and sometimes cheesy) effects. The texture created by a real person generously covered in stage blood and prosthetics is ripe with substance. It also adds to the fun of the picture for the audience and the cast (which has always, from their point of view, been delivered from a wink-wink-nudge-nudge gesture). It’s both playful and gross. With a marvelous sense of reality animating the living dead, the generous servings of more and more gore and real latex makes today’s Hollywood and its overuse of CGI look weak and, dare I say it, lifeless.
Writer/Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna are to be commended in having the balls to never compromise on Re-Animator’s dark subject matter. They battled studios and outraged audiences and won. The impact the movie has had upon a generation of filmgoers is only just now being felt as they pursue the extreme with their own perverse visions of Horror and humor in Hollywood. Even if you’ve seen it before, this release is worth the time and the effort.
Re-Animator lives again!
MPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA.
Runtime: 86 mins.
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writer: Dennis Paoli
Cast: Jeffrey Combs; Bruce Abbot; Barbara Crampton; David Gale; Peter Kent
Genre: Horror | Sci-fi
Tagline: It will scare you to pieces.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I was busy pushing bodies around as you well know and what would a note say, Dan? "Cat dead, details later?"
Distributor: Empire Pictures
Release Date: October 18, 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 4, 2012
Synopsis: A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - September 4, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A
Image Entertainment’s new anamorphic 1080p, VC-1-encoded transfer is from a very clean source print. With few flaws in the actual print, it’s the best the film has ever looked on the home video market. However, it must be noted that the film did not undergo a meticulous frame by frame restoration. The Yuzna-approved upgrade comes from the enhanced clarity of the source print. There’s a bit of detail in the faces and the play between colors is strong throughout. Fine detail in clothing fabric is strong and shadow details are vibrant with hefty blacks leading the way. The glow from the green goop that revitalizes dead flesh pops nicely. While the print falls a bit on the softer side of things, this release is a good stab at bringing Herbet West out of retirement. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix is good but not immersive. Richard Band’s Pyscho-inspired score does sound particularly strong, though, and finally has a bit of room to breathe.
- Fans really get a treat here with two commentary tracks. The first features Director Stuart Gordon in solo mode as he recalls behind the scenes information and gives insight into his directing style and approach to the madness in the film. To trace the origins of the second commentary track, one would have to have once owned a laserdisc. That’s right, the infamous party track is included. Featuring Producer Brian Yuzna and actors Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Robert Sampson, the track is a hysterical free-for-all that, while not the most informative one, has plenty of great anecdotes and funny moments to entertain even the coolest cat out there.
Overall, this release has a lot to offer fans of the film. The featurettes are lengthy and full of substance that impart great information about the shoot and the film itself to the fans. The biggest one is the retrospective documentary that was made by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2007. Along with great interviews from cast and crew, the documentary charts the history of the production and solidifies its importance in the Horror canon. The other featurettes include lots of behind-the-scenes material like glimpses at the original script, storyboards, photos from on set and during pre-production rehearsals as well as some very interesting facts about the making of the film and some excellent interviews.
- Re-Animator: Resurrectus (70 min)
- Interview with Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna (49 min)
- Interview with Writer Dennis Paoli (11 min)
- Interview with Composer Richard Band (15 min)
- Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band (16 min)
- Interview with Fangoria Editor Tony Timpone (5 min)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (26 min)
- TV Spots & Theatrical Trailer