Reviewed July 29th, 2001 by David Nusair
In the horror genre, there are many different kinds of films being made. The most prominent are the teen Scream/I Know What You Did Last Summer flicks, but there's a whole underground market for horror films that the majority of the general public is never exposed to. Re-Animator - which did receive a modest theatrical run in the mid-80s - is just such a movie.
Quintessential B-movie star Jeffrey Combs stars as Herbert West, a brilliant medical student that's apparently come up with a method of bringing dead people back to life. By injecting the deceased with a glow-in-the-dark potion, they are quickly re-animated. But, like Stephen King's Pet Semetary, their post-death persona differs substantially from their real-life counterpart. He meets (and winds up rooming with) a fellow doctor, played by Bruce Abbott, who is initially skeptical of West's methods, but eventually decides to help him out. Also along for the ride is Abbott's girlfriend, played by Barbara Crampton, who distrusts West from the word go and pleads with Abbott to abandon West's research.
Re-Animator is obviously not for everyone. The gore quotient is incredibly high (the first scene alone should clue you in), but the violence is played tongue-in-cheek. This isn't supposed to be taken seriously (really, how seriously are you going to take a film that eventually features a decapitated man walking around holding his head) and it's acted and written appropriately. Combs, in particular, nails his character - a man that needs to be both slightly insane but also a genius.
Re-Animator, as a horror film, isn't exactly scary - but as an exercise in style and over-the-top shenanigans, it succeeds.
Audio: Sporting a 1-channel soundtrack, Re-Animator (obviously) is quite limited in it's sound range. But dialogue is generally crisp (though in some scenes, it gets a little muffled) and the action sequences are easy enough to make out. Not the best sounding track, but it'll do.
Video: Re-Animator is presented non-anamorphically at a ratio of 1.85:1 and considering how low the budget was (it was made for under $1 million), it looks quite good. There is a good amount of film elements in the picture, but this is generally an acceptable transfer and likely the best way to view this film.
Extras: There are two commentary tracks, the first of which features director Stuart Gordon. This was his first film and his enthusiasm really shows. This track is informative, interesting, and features very few quiet moments (though towards the end of the film, the quiet moments become more frequent). He talks about everything from the initial idea of the film, to how he was able to secure financing, to how the various gore-shots were accomplished. A very well done track. Next is a secondary commentary track, featuring members of the cast. While not incredibly informative, this track is often quite hilarious and generally seems like a class reunion. Up next are over 25 minutes of deleted scenes (Gordon speaks a little bit about this in his commentary; many cuts had to be made for the R-rated video version, so deleted scenes were put in place of gore). These are full-screen (with the exception of a dream sequence) and are in pretty bad shape (though entirely watchable). They're all fairly useless, especially one ludicrous subplot featuring an already-established doctor hypnotizing people to do his bidding (!). Finally, there is the trailer and three television spots (which feature cast commentary, if you leave that feature one, though they don't say much).
Re-Animator is a hilariously over-the-top and cheesy horror flick that, if you go with it, can be tremendously entertaining.
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