This is one of my favorite movies… I saw it recently and I said to myself “I must write about it! This is an absolute masterpiece of horror.”
Because it can be included in the category SO BAD IT’S SO GOOD. And this is really good!
Re-Animator is a 1985 Sci-Fi Horror movie directed by Stuart Gordon; he also directed Dagon, the Fortress and Space Truckers, but I think that Re-Animator is a true masterpiece. Gore and explicit, it’s certainly a classic.
The plot is simple: Herbert West, med student, invent a serum which can resurrect the dead, transforming them into blood thirsty monsters. Well, cut to the bone… because everything happens seems to be a simple background for West’s experiments with his glowing green fluid.
We can defeat death! We can achieve every doctor’s dream! We’d be famous! And live lifetimes!Herbert West
During an insane experiment in the University of Zurich, Prof. Hans Gruber (another Hans Gruber… ) dies in an atrocious way. And it’s here that we make the acquaintance of Dr. West. In the film he is not a doctor yet, he is still a med student; in fact, he is expelled from the University of Zurich because he seems to be involved in the mysterious, gory death of his Professor.
He moves to America to attend the Miskatonic University of Arkham: a name that sounds promising! Here he wants to refine his invention: a greenish serum capable of bringing back to life the “daily deceased”, before brain death makes the corpses completely useless.
The fresher the corpse, the better!
He finds an assistant, Dan Cain, a med student who literally bumps into the effects of the glowing invention… in a legendary scene where he struggles with a zombified cat!
When they revive a corpse in the University Hospital, they realize that the side effect of the serum is to create blood-thirsty walking dead in the morgue of the med school. Unfortunately, Dr. Halsey (dean of the University and father of Cain’s fiancée, Megan Halsey) enters the morgue and gets killed; but a dose of the serum brings him back to life. Doctor Hill, a professor with dirty aims, understands that Halsey became some sort of living dead and tries to get his hands on the mysterious green fluid to pursue his purposes. West manages to decapitate him, but, in an excess of zeal, injects him with the serum and begins to discuss with the severed head. Hill’s body frees itself and knocks West out.
In a jubilation of blood and death, with a profusion of zombies, Dr. Hill tries to rape Megan Halsey… even if beheaded and undead, he still seems too present to himself!
The final fight does not spare shocks and creative killings.
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 co-ed. You’re not even a second-rate scientist.Herbert West
The main character it is taken from the groundbreaking tale “Herbert West, Re-Animator” by H. P. Lovecraft (even if he didn’t like it at all!) and the movie gives a portrait of West consistent with the paper version, except for the blonde hair, the blue eyes and the fact that Lovecraft’s West dies devoured by the undead he revived. He, like a new Dr. Frankenstein, is the prototype of a mad scientist, with the obsession with overcoming human limits and dominating the most inescapable aspect of nature.
He is a villain, of course, but not a wicked one. If we compare him with his counterpart, Dr. Hill, who is truly evil and driven by his ego, we can see that Herbert West’s motive is devoid from any moral alignment: his only interest is to achieve his goals. So, murder, mayhem and unethical deeds are just side effects of his experiment, purely instrumental in his creation.
Jeffrey Combs is the perfect interpreter for the role and the movie is a triumph of spectacular deaths and slaughtering, where every tradition of the sci-fi horror genre is respected to excess. And this is exactly the watchword of this movie: exaggeration. With a small dosage of gross humor and a campy approach.
With a budget of only $ 1 million, they had to make do with what they had: for example, David Gale, who plays Dr. Hill, had to shave his hair and wear a “bad wig” because they couldn’t afford to make personalized hair for the head prop. Despite this, the special effects are quite impressive and the quantity of fake blood they used is colossal… 24 gallons!
That’s why this film is so good.
It’s a cult. Trash and weird.
And it’s still one of the best film adaptations of a Lovecraft’s tale. In my opinion, the most entertaining Lovecraftian horror movie so far!
by Alice Colombo
Images from web.