Blog Lagoon’s 31 Days of Halloween, Day 13: The Re-Animator Series Reviewed

In a gleefully nasty mix of gore, horror, comedy and sex, Re-Animator rose above what most of those genres had to offer in the 80s. With Evil Dead II as it’s only real rival Re-Animator delivers the goods and then some. Dr. Herbert West develops a serum (it looks like glow stick juice) to resurrect the recently deceased. With the help of a reluctant med school student, West obsessively conducts his experiments with predictably disastrous results. A cat is brought back to life and thrown against a wall. The disembodied head of a villainous rival pays homage to The Brain that Wouldn’t Die by snarling from a lasagna pan. Said head terrorizes the med student’s tragically put-upon girlfriend in an impressively tasteless scene that makes clever wordplay of the expression, “giving head.” Equal parts zombie movie, Frankenstein homage, 50s sci-fi creature feature and straight-to-video gorefest, Re-Animator is relentlessly paced and sharply written. It builds to a satisfying finale’ and begs repeat viewing. Nudity is soured by gross-out context but gore comes in buckets. Two equally satisfying sequels followed.

The follow-up to Re-Animator, like the follow-up to Frankenstein, shatters expectations and surpasses the original in some arenas. Dr. West (who returns in a twist of logic that seems to disregard the last film’s finale) is even more crazed and now hell-bent on constructing his “bride” from the parts of multiple bodies. There are a few nice scenes of sloppily stitched together body parts given an animated life of their own. As in Bride of Frankenstein, the title beauty doesn’t make an appearance until the last reel, but you’ll have plenty of stringy bloody gristle to chew on until then. The plotting is more slapdash than the original but things move so quickly you hardly notice. The finale is a real corker with Screaming Mad George’s multicolored gore effects stealing the show. BoR is much more than functional and as entertaining as any mad science movie I know. Beyond Re-Animator followed.

It’s amazing that director, Stuart Gordon, managed to sustain the frantic, hilarious and horrific vibe of the first two films in this series. This second sequel finds our slightly aged, subtly sophisticated and bat-shit crazy Dr. West in jail where he (implausibly) manages to find ways to continue his experiments with his life-giving serum. By now, of course, you’d think he’d have come to terms with the fact that things always go horribly awry when he goes back to the drawing board. Teaming up with a prison MD who also happens to be the kid brother of a girl killed accidentally by one of West’s earlier “experiments”(?), the good doctor makes yet another mess of the dead, who are much more verbal this time. There’s a decent jailbreak, a resurrected hanging man and the exploding face of a prison junkie who ODs on the serum. I could have done without the bit-off boob and over-the-top, fake-looking, re-animated penis, but by now we know to expect this sort of thing. The story, more convoluted than ever, is most certainly beside the point. This Re-Animator is as gory and wacky as you’ve come to expect and the perfect cap to a solid mad-science trilogy.

~ by Number5ive on October 20, 2010.

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