Re-Animator (1985)


Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator: Truly one of the mega-horror-classics of the 1980s, right up there with A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, and Hellraiser. Chock full of outrageous sequences, a gloriously dry sense of humor, and more creative gore than six splatter flicks put together, it's a movie I fell instantly in love with back in the 1985. And each time I see the thing it just gets cooler and cooler. It's a Lovecraft movie that actually respects and pays homage to the legendary author, it's a colorful blood-fest that doesn't apologize for its messiness, and it's just plain old fun across the board. And now comes a (kinda) brand-new Special Edition DVD that the gorehounds will simply have to own.

Any true-blue FEARnet fan has no doubt seen Re-Animator at least two or three times by now, but for those who've yet to experience Gordon's masterpiece, here's an easy breakdown: Dan Cain is a perfectly normal med student at Miskatonic University. Aside from the fact that he's dating the dean's daughter, there's nothing particularly interesting about the guy. And then a new housemate shows up in the form of Herbert West ... and that's when things get crazy. Dan's new roommate, you see, is trying to perfect a serum that will re-animate dead tissue. West's first experiment is on a deceased feline, and well, let's just say things go more than a little wrong with this experiment. Eventually West's kooky schemes are discovered by the jerkfaced professor known as Dr. Hill -- which means the old professor is headed for a decapitation. With his nemesis well and truly demised, West continues hatching crazy plans: Why not resurrect the headless doctor and use his corpse as an assistant?

To say that things get even crazier from this point would be a massive understatement. This is a movie in which a glob of sentient intestines pour out of a corpse and ... well, let's not spoil it. It's also got a bunch of crazy zombie attacks and a twisted finale in which ... no, don't wanna ruin the ending, either. Oh, it's got a scene in which a dismembered head and a naked coed have some ... well, you'll just have to see this sequence to believe it. Suffice to say that Re-Animator contains more moments of "wow," "ew," and "seriously, that's gross" than most horror flicks can dream of. Obviously I have a deep and twisted love for this particular movie, which makes this swanky new Special Edition a big fat treat. (I'm generally averse to the "double dip" treatment, but when it's a creepy classic of this stature, I don't mind dropping the 16 bucks and tossing the old DVD onto eBay to defray the cost.) Here's what you'll find on the new "Anchor Bay Collection" release of Re-Animator:

Two audio commentaries, both of which have been ported over from previous DVD releases, but both of which are quite excellent indeed. The first one's with director Stuart Gordon -- which is predictably informative and jam-packed with interesting recollections -- and the other a much more laid-back affair. Gathered for chat-track #2 are producer Brian Yuzna (who has since gone on to direct some pretty decent horror flicks in his own right) and actors Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbabra Crampton, and Robert Sampson. You get your film geek info on the first track, and a much looser bunch of anecdotes from the crew on track two. An excellent balance, if you ask me.

So the commentary tracks are great, but they're old goodies. Fortunately there's a phenomenal (and all-new) feature-length documentary called "Resurrectus" that's probably worth the 17 dollar ticket price all by itself. I'll leave the specifics for you to discover, but this piece will probably go down as THE definitive "making of" on this particular movie. (And it's good enough to come back to a couple of years later, like the "Terror Takes Shape" doco found on the Thing DVD. Yeah, it's that good.) Then we get back to some more recycled material: Over 95 minutes of interviews are included, and while some of the stories feel a little familiar by this point, it's still nice to have a DVD this overstuffed with re-animated goodies. (The interview participants include Gordon, Yuzna, composer Richard Band, screenwriter Dennis Paoli, and Fangoria editor Tony Timpone.)

And the treats just keep on coming: a deleted scene, several extended scenes, a fistful of TV spots and a trailer, five different photo galleries, a director's bio, a mini-poster, and a nifty glowing syringe that's actually a marker! Nifty! Obviously if you don't already own this movie, THIS is the version you need to own. (The Elite release is out-of-print anyway, so you wouldn't have much of a choice.) Hats off to Anchor Bay for presenting a true-blue splatter classic with great audio/visual specs, tons of great old extras, and a fantastic new documentary piece. This is a package that's truly worthy of a movie this damn cool.