Monday, February 28, 2011


There is a point in Re-Animator that is so over the top that you may sit there, jaw-dropped, staring at the screen, unsure if you're really seeing what's unfolding, and you'll likely ask yourself this question: Did that guy just use his own decapitated head to eat that girl's pussy?

The answer is, of course, yes.

This movie is so self-assured, so confident in its willingness to cross the line, its depravity becomes nearly transcendent. It is the best kind of horror, a film that makes the audience laugh and squirm, but not from disgust or revulsion, instead in astonished disbelief.

The story revolves around Herbert West, a cocky young medical student who has developed a serum that, when injected directly into the brain, will bring the dead back to life. A groundbreaking discovery, sure, but far too unconventional an idea for the medical establishment, and the very idea will likely get him expelled from Miskatonic U. Not that West is very concerned about that. One doesn't get to keep their mad scientist union card by sucking up to the status quo.

No, one hangs onto it by re-animating small animals on the sly, like a roommate's cat, and then maybe a cadaver or two in the morgue. Of course, it's that latter act that nearly brings the whole enterprise crashing down. The college's dean saunters into the morgue and headfirst into one particularly agitated corpse who quickly snaps his neck. West and his partner Cain aren't too keen on taking the fall for Dean Halsey's death, but quickly figure, hey, he doesn't have to be dead. One quick injection and Halsey is as good as... Well, he's not dead anymore, at least.

Halsey ain't exactly himself after re-animation. It doesn't take long for Miskatonic's eminent brain researcher (and yes, that is how he is described) Dr. Hill to figure why the dean is acting more than a little off. Of course, being an eminent brain researcher, Hill realizes pretty quickly that Halsey is dead, yet not quite immobile as a cadaver should be.

Being an eminent brain researcher, and somewhat of a schmuck, Hill attempts to blackmail West. He wants the secret formula for himself. What Hill doesn't seem to know is that he should never piss off a mad scientist, and he should never turn his back on someone he's blackmailing. That's how you end up headless, if not entirely dead.

To say things then go from bad to worse is an understatement. "Bad" and "worse" are words that possess not nearly the substance to put across just how far gone things are in this film. Mind you, this isn't to imply the film itself is bad. No, quite the opposite. Re-Animator is a gleeful film, horrors and all.

Directed by Stuart Gordon • Unrated • 1985 • 86 minutes

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