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RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

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RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

Friday, 06 September 2013 12:00

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Written by 

The Buzz:

        Based (oh so incredibly loosely) on a series of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator follows college medical student Dan Cain, who part-way into his third year meets the strange Herbert West. West is experimenting with a strange concoction that he believes can reanimate the dead. But their ghoulish experiments take a turn for the worse, and events quickly spiral out of the two student's control.

 

 

Life of the Party:

        Let's get this out of the way now: this is NOT H.P. Lovecraft's story Herbert West: Reanimator. If that's what you're looking for then just pass this film right on by. The only thing this film has in common with Lovecraft's short stories is the name of one of the characters, what his potion is supposed to do (kind of loosely there too though...), and one of the settings. Everything else is pure 1985 gross-out-violence exploitation. And for some of you that's good enough; you want to see 80's blood-and-gore effects and the occasional naked woman. And in terms of 80's exploitation films of this genre Re-Animator stacks up fairly well.

        What a movie like this hinges on is not the acting, or the story, but rather the practical effects. And while today's movie-goers might have a hard time appreciating the makeup and puppetry effects of this film, they're quite impressive when you take into account when it was made, and the fact that it had less than $1 million in budget. And they achieve their goal of grossing you out quite well too (or maybe I'm just really squeamish with surgery scenes, but I can't be alone in that). Sure the blood is that classic 80's strawberry-paste looking stuff, but even so viewers who can't stand the thought of a scene of a surgery to remove a brain (complete with face removal), or shoving a bone-saw through a man's back and heart, should shy away.

        Fans of classic exploitation films like The Gore Gore Girls (which I find a damn shame that Alex and I haven't reviewed that film yet; maybe that'll come up soon) can find something to enjoy within Reanimator. And also fun fact: the first person to be reanimated is Arnold Schwarzenegger's body double!

 

AHHHRAGHAUGHRAGH (sp?) Maybe Ben can help me out here...

Potential Hangovers:

        For me, Re-Animator commits for me a cardinal sin of horror films; it's simply not scary. Sure some people can't tell the difference between horror and gross-out cinema, but those of us who can just won't find anything to really be scared about in this film (and even keeping the period in mind, I doubt viewers back in '85 were scared either). Like I said earlier it's pure exploitation cinema, with little in the way of suspense or tension.

        And I can't for the life of me understand how the screen-writer (Dennis Paoli) could have read Lovecraft's original tales and come up with this script. In fact I don't think he even did; I think someone told him about this old story they were reading and Paoli decided to riff on it. The original tales are classic scary; lots of suspense and tension to rack up the nervousness of the reader and bring them into this world of terror in the wake of Herbert West. Sure it's not Lovecraft's best work (Lovecraft himself wasn't a big fan of the stories), but they're a level of mastery well above the schlock that was put to film in this film. I understand that when taking a book to the big-screen certain things inevitably need to be changed, but outside of a couple names this film is so drastically different from the source material that it's almost insulting to the much-loved fiction writer whose work Re-Animator so casually disregards.

 

Somehow not as creepy as the fan art I found when writing my review of Atlantis: The Lost Empire

The Vibe: Casual Gathering

        Gather your friends, assemble your cocktails, and riff away at Re-Animator. While I enjoyed myself watching the film solo (because how else was I going to waste time at work?), I could almost hear in the back of my head the voices of my fellow reviewers. The film is a little too dialogue-driven to be appropriate for a large party, and a little too mature for general audiences. You have to find a group of people who are totally OK watching a decapitated head molest a young college girl while they drink and yell profanities at the movie screen.

 

Drinking Game:

~ Drink every time they say "reagent"

~ Drink every time someone/something is killed

~ EXPERT MODE: Take a shot every time a person is reanimated

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Classic 80's exploitation

+ The practical FX are impressive

- A butchering of a classic story

Read 850 times Last modified on Friday, 06 September 2013 22:53

About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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