Some of the greatest names in B-movie horror combined to make this, undoubtedly one of the greatest B-movie horrors of the 80’s. From 1985, Re-Animator, produced by Brian Yuzna (director of the excellent Society and surprisingly good The Dentist), starred Jeffrey Combs (the underrated The Frighteners), was based on supreme horror writer of days-gone-by’s work, H.P. Lovecraft, and was helmed by Stuart Gordon (the very worthwhile Dagon and King of the Ants). “One of the greatest horror movies ever made,” says Entertainment Weekly on the box for this Anchor Bay special edition. Certainly it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. Despite being his first feature and gaining recognition for his other works, Gordon did such a great job in his debut that he has forever been labelled Stuart “Re-Animator” Gordon, so synonymous with the genre that he earned himself a place of the recent Masters of Horror series’.
Based on Lovecraft’s story Herbert West, Re-Animator, Gordon co-wrote the screenplay that would give new life to the stubborn eccentricities of the titular Doctor. Fresh from his work with Swiss Doctor Gruber, West (Combs in perfect high-strung form) is back on American soil at Miskatonic University, keen to continue, at any costs, Dr. Gruber’s study of re-animation. However, this is not going to be easy under the eye of “grant machine” Dr. Hill (a hammily menacing David Gale), with whom West clashes on the subject of brain death, and that's not to mention the suspicions of fellow medical student and flatmate Dan Cain’s (Bruce Abbott) girlfriend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton). Yes, the course of West’s madcap antics doesn’t run smoothly, and enlisting the help of mild mannered Dr. Cain does nothing to avert this. With more than one love triangle, heads will roll, but West is still intent on more mayhem with his life-giving luminous serum.
Re-Animator’s one of those infamous titles from horror’s golden age that you grew up with or, if you didn’t, like me you’d wish you had. As Gordon goes straight for the eyeball horror in the intro and the bright title sequence floats and flashes to the sound of Richard Band’s Psycho-like strains, you know you’re in for a treat. And what a treat this is as you bear witness to one of the most inventive and successful comedy horrors. Much as Russ Meyer did with Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Stuart Gordon instructed that the film to be played straight rather than comic, giving the deadpan humour that endures today. There’s plenty of gore on offer and, whilst not actually scary, the horror if perfectly silly and pre-empts films like Peter Jackson’s 1992 film Braindead with the whole wonderful over-the-top-ness of it all. I’m one for whom the movie is the meat, but this special edition is packed with extras and I thoroughly recommend the 70-minute featurette, Re-Animator: Resurrectus. It will really confirm your love of the film as you get e peek at the low-budget, old-school effects and feel the genuine love that went into this project. Horror as horror should be.
Quite simply a classic, spot-on, comedy horror. If you’ve missed it, you’ve missed out, so be sure to catch up 9/10