Monday, October 11, 2010

Movie Review: Re-Animator

Dan Cain: He's dead?

Herbert West: Not anymore.

In 1985 a little horror movie came out called Re-Animator. The movie is loosely based on the H.P. Lovecraft story "Herbert West Re-Animator". It was originally envisioned as a stage piece and then as a miniseries with 13 episodes. Due to budget constraints it was settled on as a movie. The film mixes comedy and gore to great effect while still managing to tell a very compelling story. It was shot on a relatively small budget (900,000), but still manages to capture some great performances and special effects on camera. Not to mention it contains one of the most famous sex scenes between a zombie head and a woman....or the only one. Nice.

                                                           Let's get it on!

The movie stars Jeffrey Coombs who magnificently plays Herbert West in this tale of the undead. West comes to America from Switzerland after the death of his mentor Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry) where he was studying on how to cheat death with a secret serum known as "reagent" that re-animate the dead. West ends up renting a room from his schoolmate Dan (Bruce Abbott). The nice and innocent jock type that was common in many horror movies of this era although he plays the role very well. Dan ends up becoming an unwitting accomplice to West's hunger to make his serum work. Much to the chagrin of his beautiful and suspicious girlfriend Megan played by Barbara Crampton. She is none too happy about West living there and doesn't trust him once bit. To top off this trio is the the devious and creepy Dr. Hill (David Gale) who teaches at the medical school where West and Dan attend. He and West have an instant grudge together due to West's belief that Dr. Hill stole much of his late mentors research as his own. These tense scenes between them are quite well acted and very funny. Dr. Hill also has quite the fascination for Megan and in the end will stop at nothing to get her. All of these characters and scenarios lead to corpse stealing, corpse re-animation, gore, lot's of nudity, comedy, and some head giving head action. Yep you heard that right. Can it get any better. No not really.

                                          Dr. Hill just wants a little kiss is all.

Jeffrey Coombs as the reclusive and eccentric Herbert West is part of what makes this movie works so well. Actually he does whatever role he's in proud. See "The Frighteners" and Deep Space Nine". His acting is top notch in this film and he doesn't miss a beat. He can hit those serious parts as well as some funny lines such as his explanation of Dan's dead cat. "I was busy pushing bodies around as you well know and what would a note say, Dan? Cat dead, details later"? Lol. The second part of this formula that makes the perfect mix is the late David Gale's performance as Dr. Hill. As the alive version he plays the perfect combination of  staunch and gaunt, well respected, and yet has this underlying creepiness. As the disembodied head and quite dead version he hams it up terrifically and just goes straight over the top. He's not afraid to go there and that's really needed for any mad scientist role. The beef between him and West is priceless. They go at it a few times and each time Dr. Hill is getting more and more angry at the antagonistic West. You could cut the air with that tension in the room.The other supporting roles of Barbara Crampton as Megan and Bruce Abbott as Dan are fine and fairly well done. No complaints, but nothing really sticks out from them either. I must say kudos for her to for having so much on screen time being naked. Definitely no complaints there. Megan's father Dean Halsey played by Robert Sampson does a fine job of playing zombie I must say. Overall the acting is quite good on all fronts.

                                           West is in for a little surprise.

The makeup and special effects are mostly top notch in this flick thanks to John Naulin, Richard McGuire, and Anthony Doublin. The animatroincs for Dan's resurrected dead cat are quite comical but still pretty freaky. The makeup effects for the zombies are well done, but get far more extensive for the undead version of Dean Halsey and Melvin the muscle bound meat head. The gore however, is sublime! The effects for Dr. Hills decapitation are great as well as the aftermath of the body carrying around the bloody head. There's a nice little scene of Melvin getting it through the back with a bone saw from West as well. Plenty....Plenty of blood and guts for you gore hounds to revel in.

                                          The infamous head giving head scene.

In conclusion, if you love gore, blood, t&a, comedy, and zombies, then you will have it in droves here. But you also get a well acted and put together horror movie that breezes by in slightly over and hour and a half. I would highly recommend this film and you should all go watch it now!

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