Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week of Reel Whorror!: Dead is Better Day 2

Release: 10.18.85
Rated R/UR
1 hour, 26 minutes

Full Price

Yesterday, I posted about the forefather film of the zombie genre. Now it's time to examine a film based on the forerunner of zombies in fictional storytelling, H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West-Reanimator.

Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott, Prophecy II) is a medical student at Miskatnoic University. He works hard and tries not to piss off the Dean; he's already on thin ice for dating his daughter, Megan (Barbara Crampton, Puppetmaster). Along comes Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, The Frighteners), a creepy student who transferred from Switzerland after there "was no more to learn there." Despite the weird vibe Herbert gives off, Dan rents him a room. When Dan discovers Herbert using a special reagent to revive dead tissue, he joins the mad student in his quest to make medical history, though it may mean their medical careers become history.

Director Stuart Gordon (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) blends the horror and comedy of the Re-Animator tale to gross, cheesy goodness. The actors lay their characters' emotions and reactions on thick, but it works perfectly for the film. It's hilarious that everyone is instantly disturbed by Herbert, which is believable thanks to Combs's excellent freak-stare. While Dan and Herbert may walk in the shades of gray of their research, the reactions are cut and dried.

On equally creepy footing with Combs is Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale, The First Power), the professor who's outshined by West's genius and Dan's charisma. The way he leers and sneers is simply delectable.

Dirty Undies
Re-Animator is as gory and violent as it is goofy fun. Burnt, bloodied cadavers rise up and run around bashing in the brains of anyone they get their hands on. Their reanimated rage is made doubly awesome because, as cadavers, they've all been stored buck-ass naked and the living dead aren't concerned with covering their junk before they mangle someone. If you prefer your flesh with a little ruddier complexion, Megan bares flesh and bush in the name of entertainment. This kind of movie a reel whore can get behind.

The Money Shot
Far-fetched? Absolutely. While some of the make-up effects are great for the time, many (ahem, Dan's bruised face) are atrocious. In the end, though, things like cheesy make-up and hokey reactions don't matter. The movie takes itself so seriously, despite its absurdity, it's admirable. Rumor is there's a new installment being released this year. To that I say, long live Herbert West!


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  1. And just watched this one too! Great fun (alhto' I confess to being a little uneasy with where the disembodied head was headed in that one scene).

  2. That is one crazy-freaky scene! That disembodied head was creepy the whole time, all that blood and good sitting in the pan.