50/50 Review #16: Re-Animator.

I think I'd seen bits and pieces of this before, because some of it seemed distantly familiar. Based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator tells the story of Dan (Bruce Abbott), a medical student currently engaged to the dean's daughter, Megan (Barbara Crampton). But when he starts to room with a transfer student, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), weird things start happening. He soon discovers Herbert is experimenting with a serum that allows dead tissue to come back to life. Of course they start small with animals, but soon turn to people... and that's when things get really out of hand.

This film has a slow start and is kind of dull in places, but when it starts going... it really starts going. Man is this movie crazy weird (and fun).  The third act in particular is nuts. Starting with a headless body feeling up a naked woman (and then a decapitated head licking said woman's body)... it just gets weird--and not necessarily in a bad way. The movie isn't light on its blood and gore, either.

There are other elements, however, that make this not much different from the films we make fun of (in a Troll 2 sense). A particular scene where a character turns on a flashlight and looks around a room with its light on comes to mind. Other character actions are illogical, too (like the dean's insane reaction to Dan's statement about the reanimation serum existing). Granted, they aren't as widespread as the aforementioned best worst movie, but they pop up here and there. Again, not to say that's a bad thing. Just an element I wasn't exactly expecting. Makes for a wacky time. It doesn't help that Bruce Abbott kinda looks like the dude who plays the dad in Troll 2, but scrawnier.

Speaking of the actors, I have to appreciate Jeffrey Combs. I used to be a big fan of the show The 4400... in which he played a crazy doctor with a controversial serum. I know, big stretch (if I ever make a mad scientist movie, I'd so cast this dude). But he plays the character of Herbert West here with a restrained glee. He so straight-faced the entire time, but you can still tell he's having fun with it in his line delivery. And David Gale as Dr. Carl Hill was especially creepy and fun.

The only other thing to mention is the makeup, which is pretty dang good. And I liked the different techniques they used to hide a particular actor's body when he had to act as a decapitated head. There's the Alien/Ash technique where they just had it on a table and hid the opening underneath. But then there were particularly clever moments where they held the head in front of a bulky body, so that the actor could just be on the other side of the body poking his head through. Smart, practical stuff. Today they'd just use CGI or something. This way gives it some charm.

On the whole, I'd say the bits of wacky comedy and the insanity of the second half of the movie (particularly the third act) are what make this movie worth it. I wasn't so sure coming into this, as I felt the first half was kind of slow and dull. And while it doesn't reach Dead Alive levels of crazy awesome (a film I can easily compare this to), it does get rather insane and bloody in its own right. So if you're a fan of this type of flick and haven't seen this yet, I'd say give it a shot. It's fun.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. What's with the Psycho remix theme? I started the movie and was like "...this sounds insanely familiar." Did some research afterward that led me to realizing it was totally Psycho.) 

(P.P.S. Anybody else pick up on the fact that the doctor Herbert West is studying under at the beginning of the movie is named Hans Gruber?)


  1. Wow, you liked it! Hell, sounds like you loved it! Awesome!!! I never noticed the Hans Gruber thing, to be honest. And yes, this is totally the American cousin to "Dead Alive"!

    1. Love is a strong word. I enjoyed it. It didn't enthrall me, but it entertained me (hence I didn't give it a higher rating, but I did give it a decent one).

  2. This film contains one of my favorite ever lines: "What would a note say, Dan? 'Cat dead. Details later'"?


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