Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator (1985)

“A good doctor knows when to stop.”

A demented medical student (Jeffrey Combs) rents a room from a fellow student (Bruce Abbott) whose girlfriend (Barbara Crampton) is the daughter of their school’s strait-laced dean (Robert Sampson). Soon Combs’ passion to utilize a reviving agent comes to a head when evil Dr. Hill (David Gale) finds out about it, and gory rivalry ensues in the morgue.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Horror Films
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Zombies

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that he’s astonished this “ludicrous horror movie, directed by innovative stage director Stuart Gordon of Chicago’s Organic Theater” somehow “got some good reviews”, noting that he hates “to see new filmmakers parody horror films when it’s obvious that if they had to make a serious one themselves they’d be lost.” He argues that the “endless gore becomes self-satisfying, as in The Evil Dead; rather than being a means to shock viewers out of complacency, it is there to impress everyone who gets a kick out of new splatter effects.” He further asserts that “there are no scary scenes, just a lot of streaming blood, crushed heads, decomposed bodies, [and] ugliness.” He ends his review by referring to Re-Animator as “amateurish and surprisingly unoriginal.” Interestingly, Peary’s views on gore-filled horror flicks of the 1980s and late 1970s — i.e., Dawn of the Dead (1978) — seem to be at direct odds with cult horror fans, many of whom embraced this new direction and adore exactly the elements of such films that bother Peary. While I’m no lover of the genre myself, I can appreciate the dark humor that went into taking the mad doctor/scientist flick to its most extreme “logical” conclusion — the storyline coheres, and thus it “works” on the level it’s aiming for. Meanwhile, it’s amusing seeing a mad doctor (Combs, very effective in the lead role) bested by someone even madder (and far more evil) than he.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West
  • Effectively over-the-top gore and special effects

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its cult status.


2 thoughts on “Re-Animator (1985)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I was never quite as sold on this generally funny, creepy horror flick as I was on it’s followup from the same team From Beyond (1986) which was slicker and overall more amusing.

    However, it’s one of the classics from the era and generally speaking very well regarded. It had some impact on the genre and influenced a few other films of a similar ilk. That said, probably not quite must see for FFs.

  2. First viewing. Not must-see, though horror fans who like things on the gory side will no doubt want to have a look.

    Gore has little appeal for me but I did notice that the film is often surprisingly sluggish for something cited as ‘fast-paced’.

    After the brief, initial shock-opening, there’s a good half-hour (a huge chunk of time when 90-minute films benefit more from economy) in which the film sort of meanders. From there, jolt sequences are (until the finale) measured out between down-time scenes.

    Overall, the film is rather ordinary as an update on the Frankenstein theme though gore fans will appreciate its moments of inventive ‘fun’ (i.e., the headless victim being rather ridiculously lively).

    For what it’s worth, the film’s final half-hour is its OTT ‘strongest’ (though hard-to-take for non-gore-ites).

    I’m surprised that the Herrmann estate apparently did not sue the film company for its blatant (so-called) ‘homage’ to the ‘Psycho’ score.

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