It wasn't long ago that Bo over at The Last Blog On The Left told me to reserve my judgement on best 80's horror movie until after I had seen Re-Animator. It took a few weeks, but I finally got around to watching it last night. Bo gave me sound advice, and I just might have to call it on Re-Animator, a bizarre bloodbath based on an H.P. Lovecraft story. If you know anything about the warped, dark recesses of Lovecraft's mind, you should already have a good idea about this movie's antics.
The plot has to do with an obsessed scientist who has devoted his life to re-animating the human brain after death. Like most resurrection plots, its format follows the usual lines: scientist finally resurrects an animal, but its behavior is erratic and most often deadly; scientist moves on to humans without perfecting the elixir on animals; humans come back to life, but with grotesque side effects. If you like this movie, you'll love both Stephen King's Pet Sematary and Richard Laymon's Resurrection Dreams, the latter being far more disturbing, but the former being better writing. Eventually, the good-hearted medical student and his fiancee--who happens to be the Dean's daughter--get pulled into the world of the mad scientist.
Like most movies of its time, Re-Animator is campy and out of control, but it is also a pioneer. Of all 80's horror I've seen (some reviewed here, most not), Re-Animator really pushes the envelope with gore and a good story. I suppose you could give all the credit to H.P. Lovecraft for the solid, harrowing story, but credit is also due to Stuart Gordon for wonderfully directing this masterpiece of horror cinema. Yeah, the acting is over-the-top, but in this movie it works. I can't even call it forced acting because it fits the mood of the movie so well. Like I said, it's over-the-top.
So, as I've pointed out, the movie follows a predictable format until the last half hour or so. That's when things take a turn for the worse, and the best. The movie suddenly takes on a new skin and mixes graphic gore with clever humor. I wondered why they made a point of showing the Talking Heads poster during the intimate scene in the beginning, and then, lo and behold, a talking head orchestrates a blood-soaked, aberrant ending with a great twist!
Shredded skin, resurrected cadavers, brains, arms, legs, gouged eyeballs, severed (talking) heads, a destroyed feline; Re-Animator new nominee for best 80's horror.
Pink Floyd - "On The Turning Away"
John Legend - "Heaven"
Gojira - "Vacuity"
Radiohead - "Creep"
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