H. P. Lovecraft has influenced a generations of filmmakers but very few movies based on his work are actually good . Re-Animator is an exception. It’s based on Lovecraft’s story Herbert West–Reanimator. While it’s a very, very loose adaptation, it’s one of the best takes on Lovecraft’s work. It’s certainly the most fun.
Director Stuart Gordon made the most of a pretty low budget, delivering hilariously gruesome special effects and terrific over-the-top performances from his actors. Interestingly, Gordon had originally planned Re-Animator as a stage play, then developed it as a TV pilot (which is pretty hard to believe once you’ve seen the film). Fortunately for fans of ridiculous cult movies, it was made into a feature film.
Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) has been experimenting with a new formula he calls “reagent”. It’s a florescent green liquid that reanimates the dead. West had tried to bring his dead professor back to life in Switzerland but the results were catastrophic. West has now joined the Miskatonic University bur clashes with dean Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson) and his teacher, Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). West also takes up residence with fellow student Dan Crain (Bruce Abbott). He shows Dan his experiments, which include bringing Dan’s cat back to life (with horrifying results).
When dean Halsey confronts West and Dan while they’re reanimating a corpse in the morgue, Halsey sadly gets killed. But West resurrects him and pretends that nothing has happened. Dr. Hill examines Halsey and finds out that he’s dead. Hill lobotomizes Halsey to keep him docile and less zombie-like.
Hill demands West turn over the reagent and his notes so Hill can take credit. This doesn’t sit well with West, who kills Hill by chopping off his head with a shovel. Then West, being West, reanimates Hill’s head and body. Then things get worse.
Re-Animator is kind of similar to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies with their combination of horror, gore and comedy. The movie is gruesome, terrifying and a hoot. Two sequels were made without Stuart Gordon and they’re okay, but they don’t compare to the original. Here is my original post.