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Uncut Re-Animator double bill

19th Jul 04

Having fairly draconian censorship laws has always been a drag, which is why the explosion of the DVD scene has been God's gift to the real gorehounds out there. This is a great example - 2 cool horror movies still not available uncut in the UK but readily available stateside in their full glory.

Thank the lucky stars for Ebay...

Tonight's features are presented by Jim in association with the David Gale Toupee Appreciation Society.

Re-animator Bride of Re-animator 


Re-animator (1985)

Plot
Two medical students re-animate the dead with disastrous results

Jim
Based on a H.P. Lovecraft's 1920s pulp fiction series, Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator was a wake up call to the entire genre. It's painfully simple plot turns the classic Frankenstein theme around into what I've heard described as a modern Freudian wank fantasy - creating life without woman - although to accuse Gordon of bringing a homosexual undercurrent to this crazy movie is both misleading and plain wrong.

Re-Animator is at it's heart a blood soaked high-octane comedy horror, but it also has a liberal helping of nudity mainly by way of Barbara Crampton, who gets her tits out in a good half-a-dozen scenes. She's also the only actress I can think of who actually gets some head from a decapitated head - a scene restored in all it's glory in this pristine uncut version.

I'd always thought Re-animator was a verified classic and this viewing just cemented that opinion. Jeffrey Combs is just brilliant as Dr Herbert West and rightly so went on to become the anchorman of the series, but the late David Gale's performance as the infamous Dr Hill very nearly steals the show in every scene he's in. I guess you've got to get a-head somehow...

"West... You... Bastard..."

Rawshark
It had been a long time since I had seen Re-animator (and never before in this uncut version), so I was really looking forward to re-acquainting myself with Herbert West's original antics.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek from the outset (a great opening scene-setter followed by a groovy credits sequence), the film is a scream as we get to know the fruitloop doctors (Hill, West, Cain.. they're all knowingly insane) at the aptly named Arkham in Massachusetts.

Great gore throughout (from the 'bone-saw through the chest' of Arnie's body double in the opening first human re-animation sequence to the 'attack of the intestines' towards the end that seems pure Peter 'Braindead' Jackson) and strong performances, combined with a pitch-black humour script and breezy direction make this one of the classics of sleaze-horror.
Thoroughly enjoyable, with a great last shot of a hyperdermic needle filled with green go.

"Don't expect it to tango. It has a broken back."

Zomblee
Why haven’t I watched this film since I first purchased it roughly 12 years ago?! Not to worry. Rediscovering this film was such a pleasure. As Rawshark points out, this movie gets rocking from the outset, with a superb title sequence that looks like it was executed by legendary title designer Saul Bass who designed titles for films such as Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest – notice any connection here? Not only is the title sequence highly reminiscent of Hitchcock, but the music is almost IDENTICAL to the granddaddy of them all, Psycho (1960). Hey, if you're gonna rip off music, rip off the best, right?

The swirling dramatic string orchestra music follows Herbert West and his Famous Green Goo on the quest for corpses fresh enough to be reanimated into excitable fuck-wits. What a ride. This film is so short and snappy. It fits so much into those precious 86 minutes that it’s almost difficult to keep up; we’ve got the added challenge of digesting what we’re seeing on the s creen which in this case is some pretty far-out scenes. Its over almost too quickly though, as Rawshark put it, “It’s like listening to an amazing classic punk track that lasts for only two minutes”.

Directed with obvious youthful exuberance by Gordon and featuring remarkable performances from Jeffrey Combs and especially the late David Gale, Reanimator seems to have the lot: gore, more gore, mad scientists, zombies, decapitated heads giving cunnilingus, several gratuitous tittie shots, more gore, and last but not least a demented finale – total mayhem seems to be a fitting description. Credit where credit is due - Reanimator is up there with the best of them all. In fact…

”It’s almost…PERFECT!”.

Re-animator

Director
Stuart Gordon

Cast
Jeffrey Combs
Bruce Abbott
Barbara Crampton
David Gale
Robert Sampson
Gerry Black
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
Peter Kent

Rating
Jim
Rawshark
Zomblee

Runtime
89 mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


Bride of Re-animator (1990)

Plot
Two doctors steal body parts to make a woman.

Jim
This sequel has 80s cash in written all over it. The opening has West conveniently survive the first picture (eh?) and now has him and Cain posted out in some jungle warzone somewhere - where there's a constant supply of 'fresh subjects'. Carnage insues, Cain's new love interest is introduced (a pretty young reporter with high maintenance hair) and then it's cut to the titles.

Lee's right - the soundtrack would have Bernard Herrmann turning in his grave but I think in a good way - the Re-animator score does make you grin from ear to ear whenever it kicks in. And it kicks in a lot here; Our crazy young lead has gone from re-animating corpses to gluing random body parts together and re-animating them instead. What a laugh eh?

Inevitably Bride falls flat from lack of decent script writing and Yuzna's directs a bit like he's making a soap commercial, but there are one or two classic moments. Dr Hill's back and with bat wings, and there's a good collection of nutty body parts running amok to keep SFX fans entertained, but really Jeffrey Combs' portrail of the brilliant but slightly unbalanced Herbert West carries the show.

“Forget it Dan, she’s just an assembly of dead tissue”

Zomblee
There’s such a noticeable difference from the first few moments of this sequel to the “almost perfect” first instalment. Brian Yuzna doesn’t posses half the flair of Stuart Gordon, even in the most basic terms of directing, for example, the overall look of the film does not compare to part one. That aside, this remains a pretty suitable follow-up and definitely falls within that well-known domain of an “ok” sequel.

What Yuzna does here is pure Bride of Frankenstein, so any fans of that great film should like what they get here. The theme is an instant parallel and Yuzna uses very expressionist lighting in some key scenes – very saturated reds and greens, which definitely works to the film’s overall credit. Some scenes are just so far-out that you gotta love them, mainly thanks to the strange mind of F/X meistro Screaming Mad George. A high point for me was Dr Hill’s head on bat wings – top-drawer stuff.

The sequel does manage to maintain the overall flavour of the first movie in that the central characters are all the same, giving it a good feeling of consistency. We know Herbert West and Dan Cain now and we want to see them succeed in their quest for reanimation of mis-matched body parts. Interestingly, I definitely noticed much more of a gay tinge to the West/Cain relationship this time round – they act like a couple who have been together for years – how no-one involved in the making of this film missed this is anyone’s guess. Maybe they didn't? They make a great, if slightly unconventional couple. As soon as you get the gay thing into your head when you’re watching it, its difficult to look at them from a different prospective for the rest of the movie! Next sequel: Gayanimator 4 – The Wedding.

“Bats are funny – they look like dog-foxes with wings!” (that’s another line from Rawshark by the way, not from the movie.)

Rawshark
I have to agree with both Zomblee and Jim in that Re-animator 2 suffers from the dreaded sequel rules of 'adding more of the same, but bigger and better', and, as is usually the case with this sort of Part 2 film-making, the heart and soul of the original is lost in the process.

After a pointless opening that holds no relevance to the rest of the film, we're 'treated' to a very similar credits sequence, and then thrust straight into the new adventures of Cain and West as they set about building a women's body around Meg's heart.

True, Cain and West still argue about the morals of their work, but somehow Cain now seems to be as demented as West, and we therefore lose any sympathy we had from the first film. With Cain no longer an innocent caught up in a madman's plans, who are we supposed to root for? Surely not the idiotic investigating policeman (who is far better towards the end of the film as a zombie), nor the dumb late 80s journo chick.

With no real emotional engagement to the film, we are left to relate to it on a visual level only, and thank god for Screaming Mad George and his unique effects work. We get a flying bat-head, a four-fingered eyeball, and many, many other wierd and wonderful body-part creatures (very Clive Barker), and lots of animal deaths (as well as the afore-mentioned bat, there's a great 'dog-splatted-against-the-wall' scene).

But it's not really enough. Yes, it's enjoyable in parts, but most of the film is hard work, right up to the end where The Bride comes to life, only to tear herself apart almost immediately after. Too many excessive gore effects and unsympathetic leads unfortunately undercut the delicous black humour of the first. Shame.

"She's gonna be uncontrollably spastic."

Bride of Re-animator

Director
Brian Yuzna

Cast
Jeffrey Combs
Bruce Abbott
David Gale
Mel Stewart
Claude Earl Jones
Fabiana Udenio

Rating
Jim
Zomblee
Rawshark

Runtime
89 mins

Available From

Amazon UK
Amazon US
CD WOW

Click on the icons above to purchase this title and support Eat My Brains!


Conclusion
Damn those inferior sequels, eh? Still, the two movies companion together well and a good time was had by all. Zomblee loves his 70s trash, I love my 80s trash and Rawshark - well, let's just say he's more of your thinking man's horror authority. But some movies are pure crackerjack and everyone loves them - Re-Animator's one of those.

And if you like watching the boys at KNB create their unique kind of gory SFX, the extras on these discs a worth a look.

"Mr West, I suggest you get yourself a pen!"

Take a look here too...


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