is obsessed with the idea of bringing the dead back to life. Experimenting
with a glowing green fluid, he successfully reanimates dead tissue. Unfortunately,
the dead are uncontrollable and difficult to subdue. Dr. Carl Hill, West's
instructor, is determined to steal his secret and take all the credit for
the discovery. Herbert isn't willing to give it up so easily... no matter
what the consequences are!
"I must say, Dr. Hill, I'm VERY disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed coed. You're not even a second-rate scientist! "
- Herbert West
Most of the cheap or not so cheaply made horror films these days are nothing
more than a tedious exercise in how to bump off as many teenagers in as
many different ways as one can imagine in ninety minutes or less. One need
only watch recent films such as Wrong Turn or the remake of The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre to realize how far the horror genre has fallen.
Once John Carpenter made the first Halloween film, we have been
subject to an endless series of copy cat films whose only purpose seems
to be finding an imaginative way to slice and dice the local teenage population.
Professor Herbert West is a scientist who has discovered a formula which
brings the dead back to life by reanimating their tissue. After an experiment
in Switzerland goes awry, he moves to Miskatonic University to continue
his experiments. One thing Professor West isn't and that is modest. He
even takes a few moments to ridicule a professor, Dr. Carl Hill when he
disagrees with him about when death actually occurs. He eventually rents
a room from fellow student Dan Cain. Dan is dating Megan Halsey who is
the daughter of the college dean, Alan Halsey. What Dan doesn't know is
that the aforementioned Dr. Hill has a perverted eye on Megan also. We
know this because of the sleazy stares Dr. Hill eyeballs her with when
ever she's around. Think of Megan as being an overage Lolita and Dr. Hill
as Humbert Humbert and you've got the idea. All of this is not window dressing
as it would be in some other films. It all comes into play very nicely.
It goes without saying that sooner or later, Dr. West will be making good
use of his reanimation formula, in ways only those with the most grotesque
sense of humor can imagine. To say any more than that would deny you of
the true pleasures of this film.
How can a film that is so explicitly graphic and perverted in nature be
fun? It's because every person involved in the making of Re-Animator was smart enough not to take it too seriously themselves. Everything in
this film is so wildly over the top, that you can't help but chuckle right
along with them as they wink their eye at you. There may be certain moments
of the film that would normally sicken even the most hardcore horror film
fanatic, but since Yuzna and Gordon never once let Re-Animator sink
into the tedious by the numbers game of other films of these nature, these
same scenes become intentionally cartoonish and silly.
But more than anything, this film owes it's life to it's cast. Jeffrey
Combs as Herbert West should serve as the model for anyone wanting to make
a film involving a mad or semi-mad scientist. Given this kind of role,
there is many an actor who would have been tempted to ham it up and alas
in many horror films they do just that. However, when Combs seems to imply
that he is the smartest man on the planet and the rest of us are Neanderthal,
we don't hate him for this implication at all. He is so good at making
us believe he is the smartest man since Einstein and we are all nothing
but Cro-magnon man by comparison that we love him for it just the same.
He may be crazy, but he's a fun kind of crazy.
David Gale as the smarmy Dr. Hill, is a joy to watch also. He has some
of the most ridiculous scenes in the film yet somehow manages to keep a
straight face through it all. He gives new life to the old saying about
not losing your head over a piece of tail.
Bruce Abbot as Dan Cain is the perfect contrast for West. He is a straight
arrow, is madly in love with Megan, yet somehow lets himself become involved
in West's experiments. Abbot also is smart enough to know that the center
of this film is West, and never once overplays his role to try and overshadow
him. As for Barbara Crampton, she should have won some kind of award, just
for the abuse the producers put her through as Megan. Is there an award
for most abuse of a female by the walking dead?
Re-animator was made on a budget of less than a million dollars which is
truly remarkable. There isn't a film budget in the world though that can
replace the imagination and daring rampant throughout Re-Animator.
And when a horror film is that well done, I have no choice but to give
it my grade which for Re-Animator is an A.
- James Cameron's father can be seen sitting next to Meg with his
jaw bandaged up in the hospital.
- The first man who is re-animated at the morgue (who goes on to
kill the dean) is Arnold Schwarzenegger's body double.
- Re-Animator was filmed on a budget of $900,000.
- Re-Animator was released to theaters in October of 1985.
Hammett, guitarist for Metallica, owns the Dr. Hill severed head prop used
in this film.
is a poster above Dan's bed for the Talking Heads classic concert film
"Stop Making Sense": the term "Talking Heads" is obviously used with pun
- The bald bearded doctor at the foot of Megan's bed that gets shoved
away as Dan tries to revive her is underground cartoonist Kim Deitch (The
Boulevard of Broken Dreams), son legendary Jazz-era cartoonist Gene
Deitch ("The Cat").
- The special effects department went through 25 gallons of fake blood during
- The "brains" in the severed head were made up of steer meat by-products,
ground beef and fake blood and when they shot the scene in the autopsy
room with the severed head being thrown out the door and then smashing
onto the hallway wall, the crew were all behind the cameras with garbage
bags over their clothes because no one knew just how much the brains would