A brilliant but misguided med student develops a serum
that can revive the dead, but with disastrous consequences.
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton,
David Gale, Robert Sampson
Based on the short story "Herbert West, Re-Animator"
by H.P. Lovecraft
Re-Animator is one of the most infamous American horror films, mostly because of one scene where a disembodied head attempts oral sex upon an unwilling naked woman. Yep, that's a sentence I never thought would come out of me. That scene is wild, unforgettable, freakish, and easily the main reason people have continued talking about this film. Apart from that scene, the film is far tamer than I expected, though it's still flush with gore and great characters, none of whom are greater than Herbert West, the man who can wake the dead. Honestly, my only gripe with the film is the score, which is a blatant ripoff of the theme from Psycho. Regardless of Richard Band's intentions, that score is stolen.
Herbert West (Combs) is a med student with big dreams. He has cracked the formula to resurrect the dead. It's a neon green substance that causes near instant results when injected into the brainstem. However, the subjects are violent, strong, and susceptible to commands. West partners up with his roommate Dan Cain (Abbott), and together they manage to bring back Dan's girlfriend's father Dean Halsey (Sampson). Of course, they killed him first, but that was an accident. The gore effects are fantastic, the performances are great, and the story is engaging. What more could you ask for?
I'm not really the biggest Lovecraft fan, but Stuart Gordon made this story his own with this film. He's got a great villain in Carl Hill (Gale), the disembodied head who is somehow far more evil and sadistic than Herbert West, who I had always assumed was the film's villain. There are some great comedic moments that help balance out the nightmares, making for a well-rounded cult hit.