Re-Animator (1985)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West in Re-Animator (1985)

Bring Me the Head of the Living Dead

Comedy horrors have been around for a long time and I have seen quite a few yet so few stick in my memory in the same way that "Re-Animator" does. To call it outrageous doesn't quite fit because unlike comedy horrors it doesn't throw jokes at the audience but just tries to be as tacky as it can be without being cheap. That probably doesn't make sense but let's just say a very fake, tacky looking rubber cat has never been more entertaining and not cheap in any way. And that is the movies success it is intentionally over the top but never seeming to try and be funny, you could almost say "Re-Animator" is a good movie for intentionally being over the top in the same way bad movies become good, but "Re-Animator" is never bad.

Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) is a hard working student whose only dalliance from being a model student is to be sleeping with the Dean's daughter Megan (Barbara Crampton). That is until Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) arrives at the facility to further his education and rents Dan's spare room as Herbert has unique ideas on bringing the dead back to life. When his cat goes missing Dan finds himself drawn into Herbert's world where he discovers he has re-animated his cat and now wants Dan's help to experiment on a dead human.

David Gale as Dr. Carl Hill in Re-Animator (1985)

I am not going to pretend to know much about the history to "Re-Animator" as there are those who are more knowledgeable on the subject of how much of the movie comes from H.P. Lovecraft's story and how much is the work of the screen-writers. What I will say is think along the lines of Frankenstein's monster with Herbert being the mad scientist who with the aid of a luminous green solution is attempting to bring the dead back to life. That is simple enough and in many ways "Re-Animator" is a simple 80s horror which has a bit of a 60s style about it with various camera angles and the requisite 80s nudity thanks not solely but mainly to Barbara Crampton who in one scene bares all.

But so we have this horror story which sees Herbert and Dan trying to raise the dead and of course things don't go too plan when raising the dead, they don't come back as they are and to add too the problems is the creepy Dr. Carl Hill who not only wants Herbert's research but fancies Megan. Still all straight forwards until we then get the outrageous side of the movie which I will say is best to be discovered on your own because you will have your jaw on the floor in hysterics. To give you just an idea there are naked zombies with their bits wobbling and dangling attacking the living and that is not the most outrageous it gets. The thing is that whilst you know all of this was done for laughs it never feels like a joke has been thrown in for the sake of it, instead the writers have taken a scene and just found a way to make it as shocking and outrageous as possible.

And that is why "Re-Animator" works; it is outrageously shocking in a fun way and with lots of fake blood. And as such the actual acting ends up playing second fiddle to all the horror hilarity. Having said that whilst Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott and Barbara Crampton play solidly typical horror characters the star of the movie is David Gale whose drawn features and tall skinny body makes him very creepy as Dr. Carl Hill.

What this all boils down to is that "Re-Animator" may not be the best made horror, not even the best made 80s horror but it is one of the most memorable. And if for some reason you are yet to see this 80s classic I suggest buying "Re-Animator" now as when you've watched it once you will want to watch it again and again.

Tags: Zombie Movies


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