John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Twenty Eight: Re-Animator

Sometimes a good head doesn't have to be on your shoulders...
Sometimes a good head doesn't have to be on your shoulders...

If there’s one movie I can’t stop watching, it’s Stuart Gordon’s “Re-Animator.” There’s so much over the top gore and hilarious, outrageous moments to go hand in hand with terrifyingly surreal moments that the whole thing feels like a disturbing, but entirely enjoyable dream.

The film stars a genre vet in Jeffrey Combs, who plays the crazy Herbert West. Yeah, he was in a few really awful movies such as “Cyclone” and “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.” It also has David Gale, who would later re-appear in the crazy 1980’s creature flick “The Brain.”

Stuart Gordon was at the helm for this, and would go on to write a slightly less demented movie known as “The Dentist.” And I mean only slightly less, but we’ll get into that later. Of course, the story came from the master of the horror novel, Mr. H.P. Lovecraft himself. His story, titled “Herbert West: Re-Animator” was a little different, but it wasn’t too hard to transfer on screen. Of course, I’d still like to see someone put “The Colour Out of Space” on the screen, but Hollywood’s busy with reboots and remakes right now.

So the movie starts out with Herbert getting thrown out of a school in Switzerland for using his drug on one of the professors, turning him into a living zombie-type guy. He goes to America and starts working in a class with Dr. Hill, who teaches his students things like how to perform lobotomies. Of course, right away West acts like a jackalope and starts breaking pencils to piss off the doctor. The exchange throughout the movie between these two is fantastic, but this is truly the highlight.

Meanwhile, another student in the class named Dan needs a roommate. So Herbert decides he wants to sign up, and immediately makes himself at home, using the basement as a lab and killing Dan’s cat…for science! After showing Dan that the re-animation potion brings his dead cat back to life, the Dean’s daughter Megan just happens to come in the room. Of course, Dan’s dating her, and now has a conundrum. He tells Dean Halsey what West showed him, but rather than get any kind of positive response, gets his tuition taken away. Now unable to pay for school, he decides the best thing to do is to break into the morgue and help West test his potion on dead people.

Of course, the potion still doesn’t work, and after crushing Dean Halsey to death, the reanimated supercorpse has to be put down by driving a bonesaw through his chest. No problem for West there. He’s calmer than anyone I’ve ever seen with a bonesaw. And now, there’s a new corpse! So West and Dan decide to use Halsey’s corpse to try the potion again, thinking since he’s freshly killed, it’ll work better.

Well, it basically turns Halsey into a mindless, weak zombified fellow. Doctor Hill locks Halsey in a padded room and informs Megan that he might have to perform a lobotomy to figure out what’s wrong with her father. Then he has eye-sex with her until she leaves, and we get to see the amazing hair collection Hill has collected. Yeah. I can take the blood, guts, exploding cats or whatever else you can throw at me but please, no hair worshipping.

Hill then takes it upon himself to try and blackmail West. Except West is far crazier than Hill, and cuts his head off with a shovel. He then injects his potion into both the head and body of Hill. The effect is stupid as hell, but it’s so fun to look at I could care less. Hill’s body knocks out West, and carries his head off to the morgue. He uses the zombified Hasley to kidnap Megan, and then gets ready to do some dirty bodyless things to her.

West shows up, however, and mocks Hill until he reveals that every single body in the morgue is injected with the potion. And they’re the supercorpse type too. Dan comes to the rescue, and manages to get Megan out, but not before Hill’s head is crushed into exploding oblivion by a corpse, and not before West is apparently killed by someone’s guts. You have to see it, but it’s similar to “Dead Alive”.

As Megan and Dan are heading to the elevator, a supercorpse gets loose and, in a way that I still don’t understand, kills Megan. Dan’s left trying to save her, and that’s when he notices a bottle of West’s formula…

This movie is completely nuts. It’s disgusting, over the top, and side-splittingly hilarious. Every moment Combs is on the screen, he demands your attention, and you willingly devote it to him. It’s filmed beautifully, paced just right and adapted excellently from Lovecraft’s story.

I highly recommend this movie, and would even suggest it to novice horror fans. It’s a riot.

This is the cat scene. They use a lot of Friday the 13th score here...

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