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Elite Entertainment presents
Re-Animator (1985)

"We all want to retain our personalities in some idyllic afterlife. We all pray for some miracle. Some drug, potion, pill. Perhaps, though, it takes something else."
- Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: July 26, 2001

Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, David Gale
Other Stars: Robert Sampson, Barbara Crampton
Director: Stuart Gordon

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:26m:02s
Release Date: July 14, 2001
UPC: 013023031791
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-B+B- A

DVD Review

There are horror films that desire to only to scare the holy hell out of you, and there are horror films that attempt to combine a bit of humor amidst the grisly action. It is a very difficult balancing act to be able to mesh wit and horror successfully. Too little or too much of either component can ruin the mix, and render the final product a confusing miasma. Not so with Stuart Gordon's directorial debut of the 1985 gorefest Re-Animator. Gordon perfectly straddles the razorwire fence between fun and fear, all the while knee deep in blood and brains. Now, with Elite's rerelease of their fully loaded edition of Re-Animator, any rabid gorehound can easily add this classic to their collection without resorting to inflated eBay prices.

Gordon adapted a series of H.P. Lovecraft stories into the screenplay for Re-Animator, and while utilizing much of Lovecraft's original dark tones, managed to instill a level of humor. Any director that features a scene where a decapitated head, which is somehow very much 'alive', attempts to get jiggy with an obviously reluctant female, then you know you are in for a slightly offbeat entertainment experience. If you have ever wondered how to get a severed head to keep from rolling around on a table, then Gordon also offers a helpful solution to that problem, as well. Even the tagline, "Herbert West has a very good head on his shoulders... and another one in a dish on his desk" doesn't pull punches when it comes to setting the film's tongue-in-cheek attitude.

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), a quirky resident medical student, has developed a serum, a re-agent, which will re-animate a recently deceased body. His potion, a bright green phosphorescent concoction, needs to be injected directly into the brain to give life to the already dead. Apparently West never read Stephen King's Pet Sematary, because we all know that once you bring something back to life, it just isn't the same as it used to be. Luckily for horror fans, that same rule applies here.

West hooks up with straight arrow Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), another young resident, and via a series of bizarre situations, eventually go behind the backs of the hospital administration and get a chance to test the re-agent on humans. If you guessed that unbridled, gory mayhem ensues, then you would be correct. Cain's fiancée Megan (Barbra Crampton) just so happens to be the daughter of the school's dean, Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson), and the dean is less than thrilled about the rumored experiments in re-animating life. Add to the pile a terrific villain in the form of cadaverous Dr. Carl Hill (the late, great David Gale), and you have the makings of a whirlwind 86 minutes of dark fun.

Once Gordon unleashes the blood, it flows like a happy red river. Bone saws, shovels, and axes slice through miles of flesh, and he is never delicate about presenting it. Re-Animator is a brash explosion of bladder effects and squirting plasma, and I get queasy imagining what Gordon could do if he ever tackled a modern day CGI version.

As I pointed out earlier, Gordon sticks close to Lovecraft's story, but is still able to interject some humor. Gordon directly lifts a Lovecraft scene where a headless body, using a dummy head complete with a surgical scrub mask to appear normal, carries it's re-animated head in a small satchel, and attempts to move around the hospital inconspicuosly. Lovecraft's original never had the almost slapstick qualities that Gordon builds, and is a good example of how Re-Animator manages to blend dark comedy and horror.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Woo-hoo!" Elite has done its own bit of re-animating with their four star treatment of Re-Animator. A super clean 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, and Elite highlights on the DVD case that "...the film element used was a new 35mm low-contrast print struck from the original 35mm camera negative." Bottom line—a kicking, clean, crisp transfer. While the colors are a little flat overall, I chalk that up to its history. Without a doubt, this transfer looks incredible.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Nothing fancy here. The original mono English track, the only option, sounds as well as can be expected, but obviously has its limitations. An original 3-stripe mono audio mag was used, so it is about as clean as one could hope for. The edgy score by Richard Band borders on tinny at times, but for the most part serves to enhance the viewing experience.

A 5.1 mix would have been nirvana, but I won't complain.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 34 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 TV Spots/Teasers
17 Deleted Scenes
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. Director Stuart Gordon
2. Producer Brian Yuzna, actors Jeffrey Combs, Robert Sampson, Barbara Crampton, and Bruce Abbott
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Elite has packed this disc with a fine set of extras. Aside from the trailers, which are nothing exciting, the real gems are:

Commentaries:
Two terrific tracks, one with Gordon and one with producer Brian Yuzna and cast. Gordon provides extensive background information on Lovecraft, the making of Re-Animator, and as well as scene-specific comments. He is very laid back, and his informative track tends be fairly serious. This is the exact opposite of the producer/cast commentary, which is more along the lines of some old friends re-uniting over a few drinks to watch a movie. Recorded in August of 1995, this track is very entertaining in its own right, but not as technical as Gordon's. There are plenty of laughs, and it's obvious the cast enjoyed the experience of making Re-Animator.

Deleted Scenes:
Seventeen deleted scenes, regrettably in fullframe, are especially fun in a film like this. Almost 20 minutes of extra footage, including an extended dream sequence that features more nude Barbara Crampton. As far as I'm concerned, it's like getting 20 more minutes of Re-Animator, and you have to like that.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Run, walk, or crawl, but get a copy of Elite's Re-Animator. The disc is loaded with extras, commentaries, and an excellent widescreen transfer of Stuart Gordon's classic. Any self-respecting fan of horror needs to have this in their collection, and with this re-release by Elite, you have no excuse.

Highly recommended, if you're a fan of the genre.

 


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