Director: Stuart Gordon
Director: Stuart Gordon
5 / 5 zedheads
In 1985, two of my favorite zombie films were released. First, there was Return of the Living Dead, which brought us zombies that wanted brains. Then, from director Stuart Gordon, we got Re-Animator: a gory, darkly humorous, and wonderfully executed horror tale that introduced us to Jeffery Combs as Herbert West, a medical student obsessed with bringing the dead back to life.
Hebert West (Combs) is a brilliant yet antisocial medical student. After returning from the Zurich University Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, following the mysterious death of his mentor, West enrolls at Miskatonic University in New England and rents a basement room from another promising young med student, Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot). Cain has a lot going for him. He's handsome, bright, dedicated, and in a relationship with the Dean's beautiful daughter Megan (Barbra Crampton). Little does he know that meeting West will turn his life upside down.
|Just a little pin prick. There'll be no more aaaaaaaah! But you may feel a little sick|
|Herbert West never did feel comfortable in crowds.|
|You're doing the Heimlich maneuver all wrong, West!|
Simply put, Jeffery Combs MAKES this film. Although he's the shortest man on screen, Herbert West is an intellectual giant, but an arrogant and contemptuous egoist with no respect for the living or the dead if they get in his way. As much as I love seeing all the gore, effects, and the amazingly realistic zombies that populate this climax of the film, I most enjoy watching West and Dr. Hill face off for intellectual supremacy in the class room. I've spent many hours in graduate studies classes with pompous professors, so I get a little tickle of self-satisfaction when I watch West purposely interrupt Hill's classes and belittle him for his derivative and plagiarized research. Combs embodies the role of West and I buy every second he's on screen, even if he does seem to shop only at Mormon fashion stores.
|Dr. Hill, author: How to Get (a)Head with Women|
|SPEAKS FOR ITSELF|
And let's give Barbara Crampton and Bruce Abbot their due. I don't know why Crampton works with Gordon: he seems fixated on getting her nude and putting her into such uncomfortable positions. Aside from the fact she goes completely nude and has her nether regions menaced by a tongue-wagging head, Crampton excels at playing Megan as sweet, intuitive, and an altogether girl-next-door love interest. While everyone remembers Crampton for her nude scenes, Abbot's performance as Cain probably gets the least kudos, yet he holds the film together. It's not easy playing the straight man, but Cain delivers his own great arc that takes him from regular student to fringe scientist to hero to desperate lover. He may not be what most people remember when they think of Re-Animator, but when every other actor is permitted to play such eccentrics, it's Abbot who keeps the story grounded and does much of the heavy lifting.
|Re-Animate Hard: With a Vengeance|
Stay tuned for the next two weeks as I review even more zombie classics as part of my Christmas countdown: THE 12 DAYS OF ZOMBIE.