Re-Animator


Viewed – 16 April 2016  Blu-ray

Unrated version

Re-Animator Blu-rayHalf the reason I started this blog many years ago was to write about some of my favourite genre movies, this being one of them.  Based on a series of 1930’s horror tales by renowned writer H.P. Lovecraft and brought to the screen by a collaboration between Stuart Gordon (Castle Freak) and Brian Yuzna (Society) … this remains a classic.

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a brilliant if somewhat deranged medical student who sneers at the teachings of respected Doctor Hill (David Gale) whose theories on brain function he feels are out-dated.  It’s not long however that we discover West has ideas of his own and embroils a naive fellow student (Bruce Abbott) to help him with his experiments – to bring the dead back to life via a glowing green formula he’s invented.  Call it a modern take on Frankenstein and you’d be half way there in getting the intent of this crazy but very entertaining horror.  It’s got several stand out performances, especially the brilliant Jeffrey Combs whose every line hints at manic craziness, and beautiful genre favourite Barbara Crampton (From Beyond) as a perfect scream queen.  Yet the movie is stolen by the late David Gale as the psychotic and hypnotic Dr Carl Hill – surely one of the genres nuttiest villains.

Re-Animator

Stuart Gordon fills the movie with a dark sense of humour, decent if low budget production values and even 30 years later, excellent practical effects that still pack a punch.  The movie’s long history with the censors is easy to understand as it holds nothing back – it’s violent, gory as hell and rather sexual with that notorious ‘head giving head’ sequence.  Yet it’s the movie’s spirit that has to be applauded and you get the impression this was a riot to make both on and off screen.  Its fast, energetic, has a wonderfully-perverse atmosphere and never out stays its welcome … like all good horrors.  The story is very silly in places and some bits just don’t make sense.  Also characterisation is simplistic at best, especially with Herbert West who we learn very little about … but that’s over-analysing a movie that doesn’t want to be anything more than 90 minutes of pure gory fun.

The Blu-ray I picked up from second sight is very pleasing.  Firstly the image is in great shape and very sharp and detailed – coming off a restored 4k transfer no less.  Add to this efficient sound with a choice of the original stereo or remastered 5.1 DTS Master Audio – and it’s here where that Bernard Herman-inspired score works a treat.  Extras are exhaustive and well worth dipping into with two commentaries, one from the director and producer, another from the cast and we also get photo galleries, extended scenes and a very good documentary called ‘re-animator ressurectus’.  Also on offer are two cuts of the movie itself, the uncensored ‘unrated version’ and the slightly extended ‘integral version’.  An impressive treatment then for one of horror’s freakiest but most memorable entries.

Verdict:

(the movie)  4 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

From Beyond


Viewed – 25 July 2008  DVD

As a long time fan of the horror genre, it shouldn’t be argued that the 80s were the golden era.  With the likes of The Thing, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Evil Dead 2 etc putting a big grin on my face, even though I must have been way too young.  I look back on such a time with huge nostalgia.  Thankfully in the advent of DVD, we now get to watch such treats in the best quality possible.

Stuart Gordon’s 1986 kind-of follow up to his fan-favourite Re-Animator has almost the same cast (with a returning Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton) and with Brian Yuzna involved again as producer.  This time instead of a mad scientist who can bring the dead back to life, we have Combs as a mad-scientist’s assistant who becomes embroiled in an experiment to open a dimension that brings with it creatures ‘from beyond’.  After a major disaster, a young female doctor (Crampton) befriends Combs and along with a tough black cop (genre regular Ken Foree), they decide to investigate what happened on that fateful night that seems to have left Combs half-crazy and accused of murder.  Soon we’re seeing creatures from god-knows-where messing with the three protagonists, freaky hallucinations and lots of messy make-up effects.  The device the mad-scientist created you see, is meant to stimulate the pineal gland, giving the persons involved a sixth sense and a killer head ache to boot.  It also stimulates them sexually, making this one of the weirdest semi-erotic movies out there.  This is further illustrated when formerly stiff-collard Crampton turns sado-masochistic vixen for one particular scene, and this reviewer’s misspent teenage yearnings came flooding back in a heart beat (ahem).  The film’s only real failing is the simplicity of it’s story and a brief running time – and yes, it’s not sophisticated or intelligent – but it is FUN.

The DVD I picked up houses a hilarious commentary track from the cast and director (clearly the DVDs selling point, for me at least), and we also get lots of behind the scenes footage, story boards, a gallery and interviews.  The film itself is in superb condition, boasting possibly the best picture it has ever had, with more than acceptable stereo sound also.  Overall, a worthy addition to anyone’s DVD collection.

Verdict:  3 /5

New DVD purchases!!


I don’t know what possessed me, but after watching a YouTube video of some girl’s (mightily) impressive DVD collection – I thought it was high time I had a piece of the pie.  Ok, you may say “Haven’t you got enough DVDs?” but to that I always reply – yes!  But these are in nice new shiney limited editions, extended cuts, special packaging etc. 

DVDs I have ordered online and await with eager anticipation are:

 

Alien Quadrilogy

(9 disc complete box set)

…oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…

*

Titanic

(Special edition 2 disc set)

Another favourite of mine that I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing in a long time.  Looking forward to reviewing this one.

*

From Beyond 

(Director’s Cut)

Still not available in the UK, this classic gory horror is now fully uncensored with newly restored footage – result!

 *

Dr Strangelove 

(The Reel Collection edition)

This will form Part Six of my Kubrick Project

* 

Terminator 2: Judgement Day 

(Extreme DVD edition)

One of my all time favourite movies in a deluxe package…hubba hubba…

Do The Right Thing 

(Criterion Collection edition)

The Criterion Collection never fails to impress with superb packaging and stellar image / sound quality – and this film is a classic.

 

As always I will be posting reviews of each, with additional brief opinions of their DVD editions.