There are some films that achieve a legendary status by school kids – often just for one specific scene – and usually when none of the kids have actually seen it. Re-animator is one such film. Hence my disappointment on actually watching it to find out that I had been lied to by my school chums, and the illustrious scene itself isn’t actually Herbert West using a decapitated head on himself. Why I would actually want to have seen that version though is a mystery to even myself, as in this proper one there are actual norks on show, and it doesn’t involve the ‘man thrusting his groin into a rubber head’ image I have had in my head all these years.
So I’m jumping ahead of myself a bit here, let’s get back to the actual movie and not my demented childhood dreams, shall we? I was reminded to watch this film when the guys over at The Gentleman’s Grindhouse podcast said they’d be reviewing it (they do a much better job of discussing the film than I could!) but being the tardy guy I am I never got around to watching it in-time for their show. I figured it was time I included it in this blog anyway as it’s a stone-cold classic, easily up there with Return of the Living Dead and Braindead. Oh yes, if you’ve never seen it before then it’s very much in that vein of things. Gory comedy gold.
I sat down to watch it with the GF who isn’t exactly the biggest fan of the genre, and she wasn’t particularly amused by the scene with the re-animated kitty which she thought was cruel beyond belief. However I love it, possibly just for the squeally cat noises and the fake puss around the neck effects! Still she stuck with it and was rewarded with some of the greatest gore scenes in zombie cinema. Impalement on a bonesaw, decapitation, scalping and strangulation by intestine are all present here, and all in a goretastic fasion! Although it is my 3rd or so viewing I had forgotten just how spectacularly gory this film is.
There is a plot in amongst all the gore and norks too. Herbert West has developed a serum which can bring the recently dead back to life. Or so he hypothesizes. Naturally it doesn’t work as planned, as is the case in ALL films which involve mad scientists, experiments and cadavers. (On second thoughts, perhaps we should discipline Re-animator for being partly – if not wholly – responsible for spawning such an onslaught of god-awful shockers in the mad-scientist-experimental-serum-zombie genre, damn there are some duffers in that pile!). Herbert and his lecturer Dr Hill are basically at odds with each other about the theoretic techniques of bringing the dead back to life, and it is these two bickering and fighting around which the whole film is structured. Herbert has the research and Dr Hill wants in on the action, and it doesn’t end particularly well for either party.
With gore a plenty, lots of nudity too and some great dead-pan acting throughout, Re-animator is not just a classic, it’s a classic that can be watched again and again, losing nothing with each re watch. The music is perfect too, and makes me wish for a bygone day when soundtracks were ‘composed’ and not just a compilation of trendy bands shoehorned into the background here and there. Heck, it’s only been about a week since I watched it and just writing this review up now makes me want to see it again.
Gore Score A
Norks Score B+
Originality Score B
Overall Score A