Medical student Dean Cain advertises for a roommate and finds one in the form of Dr. Herbert West. Initially a little eccentric, it soon becomes clear that West has some very strange theories one of which is about the possibility of re-animating the dead. It’s not long before Dean finds himself under West’s influence, and deeply involved in a series of ghoulish experiments which threaten to go wildly out of control.
The film is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s classic horror story “Herbert West – Re-animator” and stars Jeffrey Combs who gives a fantastic performance as the deranged West. The film war released in 1985, at the height of the ’80s’ spate of horror comedies and it’s irreverence stripped away the seriousness that had been part the horror genre and replaced it with a willful sense of the comic.
The humor here relies on verbal asides and the sheer absurdity of its situations. It is a very gory movie, so much so that producer Brian Yuzna didn’t even bother to submit it to the MPAA ratings board and instead released it unrated. The gore we see is both repellent and utterly intriguing.
West is a nerd gone terribly who has since become a cult figure around the world. We see him holed up in his basement laboratory, injecting glowing green re-agent fluid into a dead cat and realize that he represents science gone bad.
He is determined to defeat death by finding a way to get past the “6- to 12-minute barrier” after which someone cannot be successfully revived. However, he is so resolute and calculating in his desire that any sense of moral purpose does not exist. He immediately gets on the wrong side of the fictional Miskatonic Medical School’s resident genius, Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), whose ideas West openly disputes in class. West is so sure of himself that he can’t help but verbally (and, later, physically) assault those who might stand in his way, intellectually or otherwise.
Dan becomes involved in West’s experiments, despite the pleadings of his girlfriend, Megan (Barbara Crampton), who also happens to be the daughter of the straight-laced dean of the medical school, Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson). Dan is the movie’s conscience and is the only “normal” character in the movie. Director Gordon refuses to let anything be off-limits. He constantly increases the pitch of his movie using ludicrous situation after ludicrous situation. Things really get going when West decapitates Dr. Hill with a shovel after Hill tries to steal his re-agent formula, then reanimates his head and headless body. This leads to some ghoulishly comedic moments as the decapitated Dr. Hill combines West’s re-agent research with his own development of a laser drill used for lobotomies to create an army of reanimated corpses under his control. I will not even mention the sickest scene in the film that is audacious and tasteless but so much fun.
Special Features include:
– 4K restorations of the Unrated and Integral versions of the film
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Digipak packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Justin Erickson
– Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer Michael Gingold
– Re-Animator – the original 1991 comic book adaptation, reprinted in its entirety
– Unrated version [86 mins]
– Audio commentary with director Stuart Gordon
– Audio commentary with producer Brian Yuzna, actors Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and Robert Sampson
– Re-Animator Resurrectus – documentary on the making of the film, featuring extensive interviews with cast and crew
– Interview with director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna
– Interview with writer Dennis Paoli
– Interview with composer Richard Band
– Music Discussion with composer Richard Band
– Interview with former Fangoria editor Tony Timpone
– Barbara Crampton In Conversation with journalist Alan Jones for this career-spanning discussion
– Deleted and Extended Scenes
– Trailer & TV Spots