RogerBW's Blog

Re-Animator (1985) 30 April 2022

1985 horror, dir. Stuart Gordon, Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott: IMDb / allmovie. New medical student Herbert West is dedicated to his work…

This is, canonically, one of the great Lovecraftian films, but I'm afraid it left me fairly cold. I think that much of the reason for this is my personal reaction: this was made at about the time when sexy comedies were in vogue, in the wake of Animal House and Porky's, and I always found that kind of thing adolescent even when I was an adolescent. Yeah, yeah, you show me some brief moments of naked breasts. I can see naked breasts on screen any time I want to, and perhaps I'm odd but I don't especially want to combine that with other sorts of content, such as comedy – or horror. And combining the three, for me, leaves this feeling crass and exploitative when it ought to feel profound.

Of course the original novella "Herbert West - Reanimator" is exploitation (without the sex) more than it is cosmic horror. It's early Lovecraft, and explicitly his attempt to parody Frankenstein. But even then it has some moments of genius: the raised corpse that just wants to crawl back into its own grave, the man whom West claimed had dropped dead in front of him but who, when resurrected, clearly remembers being murdered by West. And those moments aren't here.

Some of the acting is great: Jeffrey Combs (West) deservedly got a lot of work off the back of this. Most of it is so-so. There's an awful lot of impressive and gory practical effects work, but after a bit it starts to blend together. And using sexual assault for titillation isn't more justified when it's a zombie doing it.

Ah well. There are bits here I can appreciate, but…

As usual if you want more of my witterings you should listen to Ribbon of Memes.

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