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Re-Animator

Film (1985). Re-Animator Productions/Empire. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Written by Gordon, William J Norris and Dennis Paoli, based on Herbert West – Reanimator (February-July 1922 Home Brew as "Grewsome Tales"; vt March 1942-November 1943 Weird Tales; 1977 chap) by H P Lovecraft. Cast includes Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and David Gale. Full version 105 minutes. Colour.

In this Grand Guignol film Herbert West (Combs), a Mad Scientist medical student at Miskatonic University, develops a reagent which restores corpses to life: they become vigorous but brain-damaged Zombies. He decapitates an evil professor (Gale) who is envious of his brilliance, resuscitates both head and body, and mayhem ensues. Sponsored by Charles Band's Empire Pictures, based on an untypical series of sardonic sketches by H P Lovecraft, Re-Animator is a lively Splatter Movie featuring the kind of undergraduate humour that assumes it is funny to be disgusting. It very nearly proves the point, not least in a scene involving the sexual activities of the still-living severed head. Re-Animator opened up new perspectives in bad-taste movies, and helped introduce the comedy trend that dominated Horror cinema in the late 1980s. Various cut versions were released, the cuts being made differing in UK and US; the 2007 release was uncut, and all subsequent issues follow this version. The novelization is Re-Animator (1987) by Jeff Rovin.

The sequel was Bride of Re-Animator (1989; vt Re-Animator II) directed by Brian Yuzna, who had produced Re-Animator. A lethargic reworking of Re-Animator's bizarre imagery, again starring Combs, Abbott and Gale, with a plot recapitulating parts of The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), it lacks the zest necessary for the desired horror-comic effect and is merely emetic. Yuzna's Society (1989) is so much better that the two hardly seem the work of the same director. [PN]

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Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 13:55 pm on 28 January 2022.
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