Director Stuart Gordon, known for his work in experimental theater and horror films, passed away earlier this year. When he passed, I decided to look into some of his more famous films and see what all the fuss was about. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Re-Animator is a comedy-horror film released in 1985 that has garnered the title of “cult-classic” over the years for it’s wild energy, grotesque imagery and combination of wacky slapstick comedy and weird body horror. This film can test an audience’s ability to stick around at times, from its absurd comedy to disgusting imagery. However, the film “knows” exactly when to cross the line just enough before it loses you.
The majority of the well-acted scenes come from Jeffrey Combs, who plays a scientist who wants to revive dead tissue named Herbert West. West moves in to the apartment of Dan Cain, played by Bruce Abbot, who is alarmed at first but grows to form a partnership with West.
Megan Halsey, played by Barbara Crampton, is still suspicious of West and what exactly he wants to do, along with her father Dean Alan Halsey (played by Robert Sampson). Given the time and it’s budget, the practical effects in Re-Animator are quaint and serviceable.
Despite looking cheap at times, the effects add to the comedic aspect of the film and help exemplify the crazy nature of Re-Animator. From a technical standpoint, nothing will get you out of your seat. However, the story, more than anything else, is what drives Re-Animator.
This film follows one direction and sticks to it. That direction, in case you were wondering, is weird. Even though the film has these wild moments and twists and turns within the story, the film sticks to the story of West and Cain working together to re-animate dead tissue and follows that story to a conclusion befitting a film like Re-Animator.
Once you are immersed in the world, nothing, not even some noticeable plot holes, will really drive you away from the film. The film keeps the viewer engaged by throwing in fun and weird moments to make sure it stays feeling like a roller coaster ride.
Re-Animator is one of those films that feels entirely unique- certainly a feat in the modern age where everything feels re-done and copied from some other, better film. It is also one of those films that was done in an era where there was more of a focus on plot than special effects. With that combination, you get a film that feels like a much warranted “shock to the system”, especially for someone young like myself. I highly recommend Re-Animator to cult-film fans and horror fans, especially if you like your horror Evil Dead-style.
Stuart Gordon created a film that resonates with people to this day. This is a great feat, especially considering this was his first film! He would go on to make From Beyond and help write Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Weird world, ladies and gentlemen. But, Re-Animator is even weirder.
Check it out.