Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Review - Re-Animator (1985 - Dir. Stuart Gordon)

When I saw that Re-Animator was being shown at the festival this year, I was surprised to realise that I had only seen it once before, when it was first released. I remember enjoying it at the time and thinking that it was really excessive. Which is good. With that in mind I was looking forward to seeing it again on the big screen.

Based (very loosely) on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator is an important landmark in horror cinema. I can see why I thought it was excessive. When the final scenes in the morgue kick off, there is some quality zombie action. A headless corpse and the previously attached head of Dr Hill are heavily involved, including a scene of severe dirtiness where his head is lowered between Barbara Crampton's naked legs. Dirty little tinker. I can't remember that being in any of Lovecraft's books.

Watching it now though, after such films as Braindead and Inbred, it all seems quite quaint and dare I say, tame. Granted, your average person would still probably think it has a certain harsh quality and turn it off in disgust, but in the horror world it doesn't go far enough for my tastes.

Re-Animator has dated. The special effects are not totally convincing now. Dr Hill carrying his own head is the worst offender. The monstrosity looks more like Dr Hill, carrying his own head, sat on a Tesco's shopping trolley. The sets also look completely cheap; the high camera angles don't help matters. It all looks a bit like it was filmed in the Crossroad's morgue. (Trust me, there was one. Benny was lurking around in there all the time. Not sure what he was up to...) Saying that, we don't need a remake; Re-Animator is a pleasant reminder of simpler times.

It is still eminently watchable. The ubiquitous Jeffrey Combs is in it. He could make an episode of Glee watchable. Maybe not. If you haven't seen this for a while be prepared for a slight disappointment but then sit back and enjoy some of Stuart Gordon's best work.

If you like this you could also try:
Dagon, Castle Freak, Return of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead 3, Braindead.

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