Re-Animator (1985 Film) Review


Re-animator (1985) is a cult classic that is a rare gory treat for for horror movie enthusiasts. It’s loosely based off of H. P. Lovecraft‘s “Herbert West—Reanimator,” that was published in 1922. The short story was the first story to introduce zombies as uncontrollable scientifically re-animated corpses. I honestly believe that this movie, as well as Sam Raimi’s original The Evil Dead, are the originators of what we now called dark/black comedy. Alfred Hitchcock played and tickled it a little while these films took a sledge hammer to the walls and ushered in a new way of storytelling of a classic genre. Re-animator was ahead of it’s time and pushed the boundaries of sex, violence, and madness while making it all grotesque and humorous.

I’d like to say that the film has an amazing plot, but then I’d be lying. The plot is basic. It’s not all about the plot though. It’s about everything going on in between the characters, the gore, the violence, and the shock value. It goes above and beyond in all those things. Very few movies can make me cringe. Re-animator and it’s many sequels can still push all the right buttons to make it happen. It’s a movie filmed in the 80’s. You can definitely tell that the director, Stuart Gordon, truly loved this project. He put his heart and soul into it. There were no attempts made to disguise the movie’s premise or purpose.
Our mad scientist Herbert West (the amazing Jeffrey Combs) accompanied by his naive roommate Dan (Bruce Abbott) are medical students at Miskatonic University in New England. West demonstrates his re-animation serum to Dan and it goes horribly wrong from there. If I discussed the details I believe it would spoil the scenes for first time viewers. Dan’s good intentions, ratting out West, bring about more zombie experiments and violence. West’s serum creates his nemesis from his rival Dr. Hill (David Gale). Dr. Hill is a pretty awesome villain that really gets creepy with Dan’s fiancee Megan (Barbara Crampton). The plot is basic but the characters and acting are awesome. The supporting cast is fantastic. I’m being honest when I say that they’re the supporting cast. Anyone that’s ever seen a performance by Jeffrey Combs will understand. This amazing actor is an unintentional scene stealer. His intensity and ability to go beyond the limits of a role have made him a horror movie icon and legend. His performance as the arrogant and self-righteous Herbert West set the standard for mad scientists for generations of horror fans. I honestly judge mad scientist roles in film and television off his performance. Most of them don’t even come close.

I think the sets and locations really added to the creepy/unsettling atmosphere. It’s clinical yet sordid. Egad the scene in the morgue. I truly enjoyed all the over the top gore and blood. I honestly don’t know how these actors made this movie without injuries from slipping in all that mess. It’s a fantastic horror movie worth watching. I wish there were a gag reel out there. I can’t even imagine what went wrong with the prop malfunctions. It had to have been epic though. I also highly recommend watching the entire series if you enjoy it.
C E Score Sheet (1-5)

Production Quality: 5
Cast: 5
Cinematography: 4
Soundtrack: 3
Story: 3
Re-watchability: 4


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