Many of you have probably already seen this classic horror film. I, to my great shame, only saw it recently. I felt it was finally time to rent the damn thing, since I endured through so many e-mails from people exclaiming, "You haven't seen THE RE-ANIMATOR?! And you call yourself a horror fan!?" Aah, but no more. Now, I can enter the ranks of the truly demented horror fans who crave for more blood, guts, nudity, and bad dialogue. All of which, by the way, are found in director Stuart Gordon’s THE RE-ANIMATOR, a film which, even after all the hype, did not disappoint.
As for the plot, it is far from an original one in terms of horror movies, which makes it even more amusing because it was based on a story by horror master writer H.P. Lovecraft (whose book on collected dreams of terror is really quite amazing). I just find it funny that a film based an unoriginal storyline, which a two-year-old could come up with, is based upon another source. Whatever, the basic plot is about (you guessed it), re-animation, or, in laymen's terms, bringing the dead back to life.
We start with an introduction to Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), a third-year med student who is dating the dean’s daughter. One day, a new student arrives named Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), a creepy looking, temperamental dude who, from the second he comes on screen, you know something is up with. The students take a class on the brain from a highly-regarded doctor at the hospital. The problem is, the doctor doesn't believe the brain can be rejuvinated after death, but Herbert does.
Herbert moves in with the Dan and rents a room in his house. Before long, the Dan and his girlfriend discover that Herbert has set-up a laboratory in the spare space and is experimenting with a new and nefarious syrum. Soon Herbert (or, should I call him, the re-animator?), shows his housemate how the syrum works by injecting it into his cat. They team up to conduct experiments which inevitably leads them to the morgue of the hospital. It is in the morgue that the film's great climactic ending takes place.
This movie is genuinely fantastic. It does actually have a build-up period in which you get to know some of the characters (it's not a long build-up period, but for a horror movie it is) which really help make some of the nasty stuff seem nastier. And man, is this movie nasty. Complete with some great effects, it's got some of the best blood and guts stuff I've seen in a long time (note: I saw the "unrated" version...I don't know what the "R-rated" version is like, but I can't imagine cutting anything out).
As with any great (bad) horror movie, what makes THE RE-ANIMATOR the most entertaining is its sense of humor. There is some geniune wit and willingness to take risks in the films jokes. For instance, there is a great scene in which Herbert is unable to make a severed head stand up in a tray on a table. As a solution, he removes some notes from those desk-spikes which people put their notes on and sticks the head on it. There are more great touches like that, but I don't want to give anything away.
The only problem with this film, and this is the thing which kept it from getting a full four stars, is that it's not long enough! The stuff in the movie was so great that there could have been more of it!!! Nevertheless, I would not hesitate to recommend THE RE-ANIMATOR for an evening's entertainment. It's almost as good as NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. These movies are what bad horror is all about.
Rating: *** and a half (out of four)