I’m more than a little upset with myself that I allowed myself to go so long without watching this film. I’ve known about for what feels like forever, but for one reason or another I just never got around to watching it. Well, I can proudly say that’s no longer an issue, time was made and Re-Animator was watched. Watching Re-Animator for the first time, reminded me of the first time I watched Return of the Living Dead. Both films have this vibrant atmosphere that I have a hard time putting into words. Both films share a lot in common, flawless use of humor, memorable scenes and some of the best practical effects shots that I can think of. But if I had to choose a favorite between the two, Return of the Living Dead would win out, mostly due to my nostalgia tied to that film’s sequels. I really enjoyed that this Re-Animator is based on an H.P. Lovecrafts novella Herbert West-Reanimator and feel that more of his work should be adapted. Re-Animator also stars Jeffrey Combs, whom will forever be Agent Dammers from the Frighteners to me.
Re-Animator follows Herbert West (Jeffrey Dammers), who moves to Arkham to attend to Miskatonic University to further his studies and re-search into re-animation, after the death of his mentor. West moves in with fellow student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), who happens to be secretly engaged to/dating the dean’s daughter Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton). One night West re-animates Dan’s dead cat, which goes crazy, forcing the pair to kill it. West talks Dan into helping him with his research, something Dan is reluctant to do. As Dan doesn’t believe West’s claims, until West demonstrates on the Cat. Bringing it back to life again, this time as a gorey mess. Dan goes to the dean, Dr. Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson) informing him of what West has achieved. Thinking the pair mad, Dr Halsey throws the two out of school and bars them from entering the hospital. That night the pair sneak into the morgue in an attempt to reanimate a corpse, to show Dr. Halsey and salvage their careers. The corpse comes back as a feral zombie creature, which attacks and kills Dr. Halsey when it comes in to confront West and Cain. After killing the zombie, West and Cain use West’s reanimator serum on Dr. Halsey bringing him back as a zombie, just not a frenzied, crazed one. Dr. Halsey’s care is taken over by his colleague Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), who discovers while doing expiatory surgery that Halsey isn’t alive, merely reanimated. Dr. Hill goes West and confronts him his discovery, in an attempt to blackmail West for his research so he can have the credit. But West is having none of that and kills Hill by decapitating him with the shovel. West then reanimates Hills head and body separately, something that turns out to be a terrible idea. As while questioning Hills head, West is knocked out by Hill’s body. Hill then escapes with West’s notes and serum, fleeing to the morgue where he sends out Halsey to abduct Megan. Now with Megan in Hill’s clutches Dan and West must work together to stop Hill and his new army of reanimated corpses…
My favorite thing about this film defiantly the practical effects. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, films with practical effects age so much better than CGI does. Re-Animator is thirty years old (at the time of writing this) and still looks great, sure it’s a little campy. But that’s not the fault of effect, or even a flaw for that matter. The best shot I feel is with Hill’s head in the metal dish at the morgue. I feel asleep shortly after finishing this film and it was the only thing from the film to carry over into my dreams. By the way, watching this film and going straight to sleep is a great way to get some weird dreams, at least in my experience.
Something I wasn’t expecting was for the acting to be so damn fun. I won’t go as far as to call it great, but the performances are incredibly solid and entertaining to watch. If you’ve seen Return of the Living Dead and like the acting there, which has a very similar feel, Re-Animator is going to be a delightful watch for you. Dammers, Abott and Crampton, all do great jobs playing off each others energy.
Final thoughts, I really liked this film and really can’t think of anything I had an issue with. The musics fitting, the cinematography is good and the ending is great. That said the whole time I was watching Re-Animator I kept thinking of how much this film feels like Return of the Living Dead and that made me just want to watch that instead. But that’s just me and I still heavily recommend you watch this film should you find yourself with time to watch a true cult classic. 9/10