"Don't expect it to tango... it has a broken back."
Re-Animator (1985) (also known as H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator) is a cult-classic horror film directed by Stuart Gordon and based on H.P. Lovecraft's novel, Herbert West-Reanimator.
The story follows Dan Cain a bright, young third-year medical student at Miskatonic Medical School in Arkham, Massachusets who rents out a room to the strange, new transfer student, Herbert West. What he doesn't know is Herbert is about to create the greatest medical discovery of all time.
The direction in this film is really solid. This is Stuart Gordon's first big film and it's actually quite impressive. There's moments I thought could have been better if the director was more experienced (like the chasing the re-animated cat scene), but over all the film is quite good in that respect. His real ability shows in his skill at blending simple camera tricks, animatronics, acting, makeup and props to make for some very convincing reanimated corpses.
Yes this film is very gory, but in my mind it actually is just kind of a realistic amount of blood for the most part and it builds and has a nice progression as the film goes on and the events get more insane. This is actually gore done right as far as I'm concerned.
The theme of this film is mercilessly ripped off of Bernard Herman's intro theme to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). This is beyond tribute and in my mind huge copyright infringement and just plain not cool. So the movie loses points for that.
The only parts of the story I don't think work as well as the rest are that of the evil professor. I'm not sure if it's his acting or how forced it is in the story. I think this is a very important part of the story and it just ends up forced or over the top every time he's on screen.
Some of the effects and makeup don't hold up (not that they were that great in the mid eighties either, I'm sure), but it actually adds a lot to the camp and cult-classic nature of the film so I'm not sure I'd dock it as much as I would other films for this. And theirs parts where the acting and direction actually make the makeup and effects work effectively so that kind of cancels out a lot of this.
You should see Re-Animator just for the acting alone if nothing else. None of these guys were big named actors at the time and they're in a cheesy, extra gory, re-animation horror movie and they take the work very seriously. Bravo for that.
I love how the story is really simple, interesting and silly... it combines all three of those things in a really great way. I love the way it bookends almost unexpectedly, and I really like how it's essentially a tale about an unexpected friendship and how these two guys end up having to work together to defeat their greedy professor.
There's even more H.P. Lovecraft films tomorrow on The 31 Nights of Macabre Movies as we continue with Stuart Gordon's follow up film to this one From Beyond (1986).
And be sure to check out J.W. Ocker's very interesting post from last week about what happened when he made his wife watch this film. It's a great read, and I think his wife is very correct on her opinions and observations of the film, over on his blog OTIS.
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