Re-Animator – Review

16 Mar

H.P. Lovecraft was a really strange guy, and I’d really love to talk more about him, but this is a film blog so I’m going to talk about film. How can I make this connection? Ah, yes! Re-Animator. Many have dubbed this film as a definitive cult classic and one of the best horror films of the 1980s. It’s appeared on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Going into this movie, I was really hoping, like REALLY hoping that I wasn’t going to be disappointed.

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Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a brilliant scientist. In fact, he may be too brilliant. After being kicked out of the University of Zurich, he resumes his studies and experiments at Miskatonic University, where he also meets fellow student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot). Cain, much to his dismay and horror, learns that West’s experiments involves a reagent that will reanimate recently deceased corpses, only they are much more violent and behave very much like zombies. The last thing that Dan ever suspected he would do with his years at university would be fight off a horde of living, breathing corpses all while protecting his girlfriend (Barbara Crampton) and West’s discoveries from the hands of Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale).

Horror is a really fun genre, because it seems like it would be the polar opposite of comedy, and yet they are so similar. It’s easy to find yourself laughing at a scary movie, and it also isn’t rare to find really great horror comedies. Re-Animator is one of these hybrids that certainly doesn’t take itself or the source material too seriously. This film was made out of the fun of making movies for people who don’t exactly want to over think every movie they see. There probably won’t be too many intellectual conversations surrounding this film, but sure is a lot of fun.

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A very large part of this movie is the gore and the effects that were used to make sure it looked as insane as possible. This where a lot of the humor comes from, and it works very well. There are a few effects where it’s really obvious how they did it, but there are a few that still have me scratching my head. Let me just say that Re-Animator takes the violence, shocks, and gore to an extreme that was oh so popular in horror films of the 1980s. This truly was the golden age of horror, where anything flew and people weren’t so squeamish. To put it in perspective, 25 gallons of blood were used for this movie. Not too shabby.

Jeffrey Combs obviously steals the show here with David Gale close behind. Combs is the definition of a hysterical sociopath (I haven’t forgotten Dexter, don’t worry). He delivers remarkably intelligent, but uncomfortably nutty lines with such composure that you can’t help but crack up. David Gale has a cool little character arc from a relatable professor to an evil, idea sucking head that stars in one of the most memorable (and strange) horror scenes in all of film history. Bruce Abbot is about as mediocre and uninteresting as you will find in a movie, but still likable none the less. As for Crampton… well… she can scream very well.

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It’s impossible to really recommend Re-Animator without letting you know exactly what you’re getting into, and I think I explained it pretty well in this review. It’s funny, bloody, and scary. Combs and Gale own their roles and definitely had a great time performing, but the rest of the cast is pretty typical for a low budget horror film from the 80s. Check your brain at the door and get ready for some gruesome dark comedy that’s splashed with red and neon green.

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