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