By Brett Mullins
Re-Animator is Bruce Gorden’s 1985 splatter masterpiece that breathes fresh comedic life into an otherwise dead zombie genre. Amid the tremendous amounts of blood and gore, the film is able to retain the spookiness that is lost upon much of the genre.
Herbert West is a Med School student, who, with the assistance of his now deceased mentor, discovered a solution that would ‘re-animate’ the dead, so to say. He transfers from his school in Switzerland and recruits a fellow student to help further his experimentation with the solution to human subjects.
This film mingles in a genre that is overrun with simplistic plots and boring mindless gore. Simply stated, Re-Animator features neither of those. Instead, this film derives its plot from a tale by H. P. Lovecraft: Herbert West - Re-Animator. The film’s gory scenes, which appear in sporadic bunches, are quite overthetop and further along the film’s dark comedic tone.
In many regards, this film is still rather controversial, even with today’s wealth of gore horror films. One critic made quite the accurate statement: “It's so politically incorrect that there is no way anyone would be able to make it today.” Though this film may not be as gruesome or torturous as Saw or Hostel, for instance, it does feature a scene where a decapitated zombie has captured and restrained a girl to an examination table without any clothes; at which point, the zombie prepares to sodomize helpless heroine using his head, held in the hand of his headless body. Talk about over the top, eh?
Though the film contains a dark comedic tone throughout, it is able to forge several moments of campy creepiness. This is the result of the effective employment of cock eyed/over the shoulder camera angles and a musical score reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Re-Animator is often overbearing on the audience and does not let the tension lie low for too long. All splatter films from its release onward, owe a credit to this film.