Hmmm... where was I? Ah, yes, the story of Miskatonic Medical School in Arkham, Massachusetts. Yes, yes, that's the story you've read in Herbert West: Re-Animator by smiling H.P. Lovecraft. And it's also the story that Stuart Gordon adapted for his well-known 1985 Monsterpiece: Re-Animator!
Well, sure, let's talk about Stu-Babe's comedy and gore-festival, but dudes and chicks, I'm crossing my fingers that you've got some extra napkins! Yeah, one word of advice, don't slide this DVD into the ol' player and eat Italian pasta while viewing it. Just ask my sheep friends what they think of the idea... it's baaaaaaaaaaaad!
Things are going pretty darned well for Med Student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott). He's excelling in his studies, has a cool home to himself just off campus and spends his nights and weekends in the Dean's Daughter (Barbara Crampton's beacon of Nudity Megan Halsey).
But that all changes when Miskatonic gets a creepy new student with a few ideas at least ten times as wild as your average PTA Semester-Planning committee. His name is Herbert West and he's played by the ever-entertaining and variously horrific and comical Jeffrey Combs. Herbert makes his way into Dan's morgue, Dan's classes, and soon, Dan's room-for-rent. Much to the horror of Dan and Megan, Herbert soon reveals that he has discovered the cure to Death itself, in the form of his glowing serum: Re-Agent!
Before long, Dan is spending less time with Megan's hot naked body and more time with the cold, but still naked, bodies of Miskatonic's morgue full o' corpses. Look, I love hard bodies as much as the next guy, but Rigor Mortis isn't what I mean when I say that... I'm thinking more along the lines of... well, Barbara Crampton.
Needless to say, this puts a dent in Dan and Meg's relationship, and it gets worse as West begins shooting his ego-fueled mouth off! Subtlety isn't a strong suit of Herbert's. He mouths off to his teachers, he's insubordinate with his superiors and he has nothing but contempt for most people. It's not long before he goes from rivalry and creep-out contests with the sicko professor Dr. Carl Hill (the Karloffian David Gale) to sailing the seas of Bad Taste in an undead war with zombies, zombies, zombies.
Re-Animator is one sick movie to say the absolute least. From the 25 gallons of fake blood to the joys of chopped up body parts and the kind of necrophilia in which the dead are the instigators, this was not the feel good hit of 1985! In fact, much might be lost on the movie fan when some of the gore goes from scary to downright Silly in an almost Dead Alive kind of way.
Needless to say, like Dead Alive this is a horror comedy that keeps one laughing as it entertains with the horrific aspects. It... is... hilarious at times, though never for the squeamish or snobbish. Excess is the way of Stuey Gordon here along with his co-screenwriters William Norris and Dennis Paoli. Gordon plays all the angles here, using the ancient and honorable conceit of "so bad it's funny" along with such other successful edges of excess to the point of parody and comically ironic dialogue. Even the score by Richard Band evokes much, much more than a passing memory of classic Hitchcock scores by Bernard Herrmann... actually, much, much more than just a passing memory! Yep, it's just chock full of obscure references, comedy, horror, gore and nudity... mostly (and most satisfyingly) by Crampton, but not exclusively either.
Re-Animator is great fun, to be sure, but literary purists may take issue with the use of Lovecraft's work as merely a basis for this film, rather than as true source material. Others might not find the varied aspects of this campy horror flick to be quite the meshing total that they could be. However, while the Gore might be repugnant, it's hard for the horror fan to not appreciate it. Even non-fans could tip the ol' hat to the special make-up effects team. A special salute to them.
And an even more special salute to sweet, sweet Barbara Crampton, the lovely lady with the lovely face, lovely body and fascinatingly lovely choices in lovely pink lingerie. That's not even mentioning the great sense of humor this beauty must have had during some of the more splattering slices of fun. Let's hope it wasn't as cold as it looked in that Morgue Freezer. Her costume in those scenes consisted of... Well, she wasn't wearing a costume, was she?
As much fun as Re-Animator is, and by golly it is, it's certainly not without its flaws, not the least of which would be the promising ending that leaves the viewer hanging like Patrick Henry. Good thing there were sequels in the wings (and another on the way in 2008... with a scheduled appearance by Barbara-babe herself). Taken for all with all, and considering the great fun and lasting impact of Re-Animator, I'm shelling out Three Stars out of Five. Now if I could just get another refill of this Re-Agent stuff, the sweet green luminescent liquid with just a hint of lime and phosphorous. Yeah... Funky Cold Medina's got nothing on this... Just ask Barbara!
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