Cinophile: Re-Animator

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The mid-Eighties was a special time for horror, creating some unique genre movies. Night Of The Creeps, Evil Dead 2, House, Fright Night, Silver Bullet, The Gate, Hellraiser… good times. A few of these films went a bit overboard, but that was the spirit of the era. Then again, if the intention was to have a loud, drunken party, one film was that guy who stole a whole stage rig and drove it into the liquor store.

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Life after death is the holy grail for many scientists, not the least Herbert West. We first meet this character as campus security in a European university break down a door and witness his professor’s eyes exploding. And then it just gets better. West finds his way to the U.S., where he immediately bunks with unfortunate med student Dan Cain and gets on the wrong side of egocentric researcher Dr. Carl Hill. Herbert has this thing about beating death, which he hopes to accomplish with a brilliantly green concoction that brings the dead to life.

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Now in today’s world of zombie-madness, you might think you know where this is going. But Re-Animator – loosely based on an H.P. Lovecraft story – is not your mom’s zombie tale. Well, maybe it is – this was made nearly 30 years ago. But then your mom had better zombie films. The dead do come alive from West’s serum, but turn into raging freaks. Then there is the cherry on top: the serum reanimates body parts. This is an important point, as one main character loses his head through an unfortunate encounter with a shovel. But that doesn’t mean the character stops appearing…

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It is quite safe to say that nothing like Re-Animator has been made before or since. Even the two sequels fail to quite capture its brilliant genius and the closest to it yet was perhaps the first Evil Dead. And you also have the perfect Halloween costume: just wear glasses, brandish a syringe of dishwashing liquid and keep screaming: “Killed him? No! I gave him LIFE!”

Last Updated: July 9, 2013

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