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Re-Animator (1985)
Director: Stuart Gordon

review by Jeff Young

"You once did me a favour by letting me into your medical school... Welcome back to life!" This is classic low-budget comedy horror with tongue-in-cheek perversity and one of the great splatter finales, based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft.
   Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, lately a malicious alien enemy in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) proves too arrogant and ambitious for a Swiss practice, so relocates to Miskatonic teaching hospital where he clashes with top surgeon and part-time mesmerist, Dr Hill (Ed Gale), and abuses the hospitality of housemate Dan (Bruce Abbott) - also a student at Miskatonic. Frustrated by his flat-liner patients, Dan reluctantly aids the insane West with his experiments down on the morgue.
   There's a funny zombie-cat attack, and the injecting of glowing green re-agent into the brain stems of cold corpses result in a welter of gore effects (including a bone-saw through the chest, decapitation with shovel, laser-drill lobotomies, and strangulation by Pythonesque intestines), not to mention the descent into utter madness and escalating inhuman violence. Despite initial science fiction leanings the premise fails when a severed head retains control of its revived body across a room. "He's dead?"
   "Not anymore."
   The rape of heroine Barbara Crampton is hardly even suggested, due to BBFC tampering - though, admittedly, this new DVD release includes details of censor cuts: two minutes and 20 seconds, previously, but one minute and 47 seconds in the new version presented here. Not that this is acceptable. Film censors, I think, are the most unsympathetic, unscientific and downright unreasonable people in the world today... Well, except for demented Islamic fundamentalists.
   Anti-censorship rants aside; Re-Animator remains a rare genre treat where just the right combination of talented actors, reckless try-anything-once director, potentially hilarious material and simply perfect timing mean the result is almost foolproof. For its gallows humour and daringly maniacal charm, this certainly is bloody good fun!
previously published online, VideoVista #30
Re-Animator
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