Movie Reviews 141 – Re-Animator (1985)

re_animator_poster_01While not a big budget movie by any means, this is easily the most famous of all H.P. Lovecraft inspired movies and the movie that made Jeffrey Combs an indie horror legend. Directed by Stuart Gordon, the ‘Re-Animator’ in the title is stoic and passive medical student Herbert West (Combs). The tone of his character, and the movie itself, is set as soon as he arrives at Miskatonic University when West has the audacity to question and contradict head surgeon and instructor Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). West may be a student but we learn right from the start that he has a hidden agenda, and fulfilling that agenda is what the movie is all about.

It all seems to be a small world when West rents a room from student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), who happens to be going out with Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), the dean’s daughter. Not only is Dr. Hill one of the dean’s best friends, but he’s also got the geriatric hots for Megan. This interweaving of characters may not seem important at first, but its those relationships that drive much of the action and it’s also what makes the end result of all the re-animation experimentation all the more enjoyable.

As he moves in and brings along with all his books and notes West also sneaks in a little surprise to augment his own learning curriculum, a re-animation serum that he’s been working on but that still needs a few improvements. But in order to continue his dark research he needs bodies to re-animate. Not content with Dan’s beloved pet cat, he convinces Dan to help him get access to the teaching hospital’s morgue. From there, it isn’t long before heads start flying (literally) as well as other assorted limbs and body parts.

The effects are still solid in this cult classic that was followed by sequels Bride of Re-Animator (1989), and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), but FX aside its just a great fun story. While other actors have taken on the role of the character from the original story “Herbert West-Reanimator”, don’t be fooled by imitations. When is comes to Dr. Herbert West, Combs rules.

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