Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Re-Animator”
By: Brian Cotnoir
Oh H.P. Lovecraft, it saddens me greatly that the films adapted from your stories have never quite reached their full potential. Lovecraft’s “Lovecraftian Horror” has influenced and inspired many great writers and people in the film industry such as Stephen King, John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi. So why is it that people can be inspired by Lovecraft and use his ideas for their own works, but they can’t quite adapt Lovecraft’s own works into successful films? The films adapted from the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft are of the same caliber of the Claudio Fragasso’s B-Horror classic “Troll 2” and some of the films, adapted from his stories, make Stephen King Film adaptations look like freaking Alfred Hitchcock! With that being said, I’ve decided to review the most (fan) popular film adapted from a work of Lovecraft, 1985’s “Re-Animator”.
|Hey is that Mountain Dew in that syringe?|
“Re-Animator” was adapted from a series of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft called Herbert West—Reanimator, and it is the story of a young medical student, named Herbert West, who helps discover a miracle serum (that strangely enough looks like Mountain Dew) that can bring corpses back from the dead. West believes he has made the medical discovery of a lifetime, but it is all too apparent that the poor unfortunate people he’s brought back from the dead are not the same as they were before and chaos and destruction reign in a world where the formerly living can walk again.
|Author H.P. Lovecraft|
First of all I would like to say is Bravo, Mr. Lovecraft. You wrote a Horror spoof decades before those lousy producers who wrote the “Scary Movie” films did. I’m not being sarcastic. It is very clear to see Lovecraft drew inspiration from great Gothic works of literature, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and I even saw some references to Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the film. Not only was Lovecraft’s work inspired by others, but his story itself went on to inspire others. Even though the un-dead characters in the film in the story don’t have an official monster name, it appears to be the first clear representation of a “zombie-monster” in literature. That’s a full ten years before the release of the first Zombie Horror film “White Zombie” (1932).
|Actor Jeffrey Combs is Dr. Herbert West in "Re-Animator"|
So how was the film? It’s was really bad, but bad in the good way. I think the same way that many people will enjoy this film the way that they would enjoy films such as “Troll 2” or “Plan 9 from Outerspace”. It’s a cheesy over-the-top Hollywood produced piece of crap that screams 1980’s. Actor Jeffery Combs, who plays Herbert West, over-acts so much in this film that it is impossible to not laugh at his performance. For most of the film he sounds like Christopher Walken trying to impersonate Professor Snape. Not only that, but in my opinion, he reminds me a lot of Jeffrey Dahmer, which should make his character a lot scarier, but it just doesn’t. I say that because, Combs character looks like Dahmer, he kills a cat to perform and experiment on it, and the way he believes in his experiments—despite constant failure—is very similar to that of Jeffery Dahmer. However, when compared to Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of Jeffrey Dahmer in the 2002 film “Dahmer”, Combs is just laughable!
|Hey. How's it going?|
This film also has a lot of gross out horror and features Combs character and the other actors in the film butchering and mutilating nude re-animated corpses. It is pathetically campy, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Did this film do H.P. Lovecraft any justice? Absolutely not, but you know what, I think if they ever decided to re-make this film and set it in the time-period, in which Lovecraft wrote it, and not set in modern times it could be a really great Gothic/Horror Themed film, instead of just being a laughably good and violent film that the 1980’s made and left behind.