1985 - Revisiting RE-ANIMATOR

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Our week of 1985 articles needs re-animating, and Si Shepherd gamely volunteers for the job...

Released October 18th 1985, my first introduction to Re-Animator came a few years later. It was a poor VHS rental copy that had clearly been viewed one time too many, complete with edits of some of the very gory bits (insisted upon by the BBFC). All the same, Re-Animator made a huge impression on me and to this day remains my favourite cult horror film of the 80s.

Based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story, Re-Animator is about Herbert West, a doctor who develops a day-glo green serum which brings the recently deceased back to life. Unfortunately once re-animated these corpses have a tendency to become crazed, bloodthirsty killers. This premise is just perfect for a wonderful pre-CGI gore fest. The effects in Re-Animator are more than adequate, of course they can't compete with the technology we have today, but when you consider it was made for a meager budget of $900,000 then it's quite impressive how they managed it all.

The pre-titles teaser sets things up nicely, and lead into an animated title sequence that has a wonderful orchestral nod to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. The remaining 80+ minutes present so many jaw dropping WTF moments, all thanks to Herbert West's obsessive experiments to bring things back to life, one of the best being a distinctly pissed off cat.

The films main strength lies in its humour. If your going to make a movie that is just so gory and gross then it really has to be done this way to work properly, so many movies attempt a more straight-faced approach and, in my opinion, fail.

Jeffrey Combs plays Herbert West, and it's a fantastic performance as he really gives his all. West is neither hero nor villain, he’s just an obsessed scientist who cares not for the consequences of his experiments. But through Combs portrayal you forget that he’s the one responsible for all the chaos and start rooting for him.

If you've seen Re-Animator once then it's likely stayed with you, it's not easily forgettable! But if you consider yourself a fan of horror movies and have not seen this film then you really are missing out. The full uncut edition has been available on DVD for some time now, so if you enjoy the thought of some gory re-animating, skull crushing, eyeball popping, shovel decapitation, bonesaw through the chest, brain removal type entertainment then you should really check this one out.

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