REVIEW: RE-ANIMATOR / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: STUART GORDON / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JEFFREY COMBS, BARBARA CRAMPTON, BRUCE ABBOTT / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 2ND
God bless gore movies. Sitting through Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator is the equivalent of scrubbing your face with a blue steak and washing your eyes with moonshine. In many ways, too, the 1985 horror comedy classic’s outlandish, albeit deadpan, manner is reflected directly in the boundary-pushing figure of Dr Herbert West (Combs) – totally brilliant but definitely a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
It’s not bad at all for a director making his big screen debut and whose background was in political theatre. Gordon and his team treated the genre – and the source material – with the utmost respect, but their ‘more is more’ approach to the blood and guts quota, along with scenes of a striking transgressive nature, ensured Re-Animator would enter the annals of cult cinema history.
The film is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, Herbert West – Reanimator, a minor work serialised in an amateur rag titled Home Brew. It might not be as well-known as the iconic short stories and novellas, but the piece does boast the fine distinction of introducing Miskatonic University into horror fiction lore.
Herbert West is a young medical student/nutcase whose aims can be read, theoretically, as entirely worthy. Pushing and revising the rules is a key remit in medical discovery and endeavour. Conquering death and bringing recently deceased people back to life is less an affront to nature and more a continuation of our traditional technological role in shaping our progress and history. Humankind is certainly malleable, but are the laws of nature? Of course, the subtext of the drama must be conservative and reactionary – creating life without the role of the female figure is seen as an aberration and all hell breaks loose when West’s super-serum is injected into a dead cat and then into a host of human species.
The film’s tone is akin to Lucio Fulci meeting The Three Stooges in a morgue. There will be blood. Lots of it. Re-Animator splashes the claret around like a butcher going loco in an abattoir. It’s sublime! Today’s use of CGI blood and other hard drive built desecrations of the flesh are no substitute for an old-school concoction of blood caps, food colouring, latex foam, plastic tubing, pigs’ innards and other viscera. Re-Animator proves such a notion, with aplomb.
Extras: Director’s Commentary / Actors’ and Producer Commentary / Making-of documentary / Deleted and Extended Scenes / Interviews / Behind-the-Scenes Gallery / Production Stills Gallery / Trailers