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No consensus yet.
Perfectly mixing humor and horror, the only thing more effective than Re-Animator's gory scares are its dry, deadpan jokes.
All Critics (58)
| Top Critics (8)
| Fresh (55)
| Rotten (3)
| DVD (20)
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Throughout the history of film one of the characters that continues to pop up is the mad scientist attempting to push his studies to the point of lunacy. This is a person who has become so obsessed with their primary objective that they throw any sense of moral code or obligation right out the window. The first and most famous example is Dr. Frankenstein in the numerous incarnations that have been brought to life over the decades, be it Colin Clive or Peter Cushing. Science is the only thing of importance to these men. With Re-Animator we get another take on the Frankenstein mentality, though it is more tongue in cheek and finds some humor in the situation.
Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story, the film opens with what will be our resident mad scientist Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) encountering the possible consequences of his experiments when his mentor dies at the European school he is attending. Having "learned all he can" there he arrives at an American university and rooms with golden boy med student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott). Dan is the typical over zealous student that's dating the dean's daughter Megan (Barbara Crampton) and being a general BMOC (big man on campus). Herbert uses the relationship between Dan and Megan as leverage in getting Dan to assist him in his experiments. His goal: to bring people back from brain death. Eventually the pair are discredited by the administration and they are forced to go about their work in secret. Of course these plans go awry as issues spring up with how Herbert's "agent" works.
Director Stuart Gordon delivers a film that, even though it could have dated itself, manages to break that 1980's mold and become something more than a late night cable TV film lost to obscurity. He manages to walk the thin line between a horror film and a comedy, balancing the two and delivering a film that is stronger for it. It is a gorefest, but there is enough humor to take the edge off, but it doesn't end up a parody of itself. For being a lower budget film the performances are well done with the stand outs being Combs and David Gale as Dr. Carl Hill, an under handed professor that becomes a failed experiment with consequences.
The film is visually striking with its effects and even though the budget was low, still managed to push the envelope and deliver something new. Gordon shoots the film not with the effects as star, but as a valued character actor. There are scenes that remain legendary in Re-Animator even if they are old school camera trickery.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Re-Animator is the Frankenstein of the 1980's. The film is built as a loving parody of the Mary Shelly classic. It comes from an era where films are perpetually stuck because of their reliance on cliches of the era, but Re-Animator stands out and survives beyond those neon bounds. It captures you with a well worn idea that is garnished with more modern sensibilities. It's horror that gives you a break instead of slamming you in the head with murder-death-kill every ten minutes just for the sake of it. Re-Animator is a great overlapping genre piece that has the ability to be enjoyed more than once. The film never gets old and always delivers a great experience for the audience.
Stuart Gordon's first movie is this campy horror classic of the '80s that we could watch again and again and never get tired, offering excellent visual effects in a gory plot full of memorable moments and with a spot-on dry humor that perfectly blends in with the rest.
Fully recommended for fans of 80's schlock-horror and over-the-top splatter effects. It doesn't quite rise above it's B-movie trappings and it admittedly becomes a bit too silly at the end, but it's well-acted, the story moves at a brisk pace, and the mix of horror and comedy is done extremely well.
Herbert West: You'll never get credit for my discovery. Who's going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow.
"Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders... And Another One In A Dish On His Desk"
Re-Animator definitely is deserving of the high praise it has received. It's definitely more of a cult horror film then anything else, with a lot of campy acting, loads of blood and disgusting images, and an amazing and bizarre character in Herbert West. I've been meaning to get to this film for a long time and I'm glad I finally gave it a look. It's a fun and interesting movie, and may be the closest to perfection a film has come in nailing the mad scientist character.
Herbert West, a young medical student, arrives at the same University as students Dan and Megan. Both are extremely dedicated to their work and studies. This is all interrupted though by the arrival of West, who moves into Dan's apartment. Soon, Dan and Megan realize that the experiments West is doing are not the average students experiments. He's bringing back dead animals and before long, maybe human beings as well.
I loved Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West. He's really what made this movie so great. His performance is definitely campy and bizarre, but it also is a great mad scientist performance; maybe even one of the best ever. The movie was only going to be as good as this character was presented and the direction of Stuart Gordon and the performance from Combs bring out the most in Lovecraft's interesting mad scientist.
This is obviously one that I can't recommend enough to all horror and film fans alike. It's a movie that is really rewarding because of how fun and well done it is, while appearing to be nothing more than a B-movie, cult film. Re-Animator is a classic of the horror genre and will stand as an important film in the genre.
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