Brian Yuzna, Michael Avery (executive), Bruce William Curtis (executive) for Empire International
directed by Stuart Gordon
starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson, Gerry Black, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Peter Kent, Barbara Pieters, Ian Patrick Williams, Bunny Summers, Al Berry
screenplay by Stuart Gordon, William Norris, Dennis Paoli, based on the story Herbert West, Re-Animator by H.P. Lovecraft, music by Richard Band
Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon's H.P. Lovecraft adaptations
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Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) is the typical all-American medical student,
bright but no genius, hard-working, compassionate, doing shifts in the
medical schoole's morgue without complaining, and he has an almost
innocent relationship with the school's dean's (Robert Sampson) daughter
Megan (Barbara Hanley).
One day Dan sublets a room and the unused basement of his place to
fellow student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), who, while a bit weird,
secretive and almost unhealthily interested in the basement, seems a
nice enough bloke ... until Megan finds Dan's cat - quite dead - in his
fridge. Somehow West does manage to talk his way out of it ... however,
that same night, Dan finds the cat attacking West violently in the
basement, which does put the death-theory a bit to the test, does it ?
West, it turns out, works on a serum to re-animate the dead, and even
though Dan thinks it's madness, West manages to persuade him to help him
in his further experiments - which do require a dead human body ...
But when West and Dan try to steal a dead body from the morgue,
something goes haywire, and the dean ends up dead - but in this, West only
sees opportunity, so he reanimates the dean ... into a raging madman, who is soon
sent to an isolation cell.
Now evil-minded brainsurgeon doc Hill (David Gale) sees it a good idea
to step in, as he has always been jealous of both the dean and his
student West, who shows much more promise than he himself does, and of
course he's also secretly in love with Megan. and while Megan shows
little interest in the man as it is, Hill soon manages to perform lobotomy
on the undead dean, to force him into submission, and he tries to
blackmail West into giving up his discovery, the re-animation serum, to
him. But West, reluctant to give up without a fight, decapitates Hill with
... but unfortunately, when West sees a corpse, he only sees
opportunity, and when the corpse comes in 2 parts, he sees even more
opportunity, and soon revives head Hill and body Hill seperately ... and is knocked out by the body when he gives his attention to Hill's
Soon enough, Hill has cleared West's lab of all the re-animation serum,
has taken up residence in the medical school's morgue, has revied and lobotomized all corpses
occupying the place, and has abducted Megan - and now it's up to West and
Dan to set things right again ... if for not entirely selfless purposes
By the mid-1980's, Empire has established itself as an
independent production company mainly supplying horror films for the
direct-to-video market. As it goes with these companies, much of Empire's
output was mediocre (but at times quite funny - both intentional and unintentional) trash.
Not so of course Re-Animator, a mix of visceral horror and black comedy, that manages to blend its gore effects
and macabre touches
to perfection and easily lets one forget the relative silliness of the
script that's only loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's source material.
Instead, the film's focus is on the macabre and grotesque, and it moves at
a quick enough pace to really keep one glued to one's seat throughout. And
of course, a solid ensemble cast doesn't hurt one bit either, led by great central performences of
Jeffrey Combs as the scientist who's too fascinated by his subject for his
own good, and David Gale as the ruthless, truly mad scientist.
Unfortunately, Empire never again managed to make another film
equaling Re-Animator in either quality or success, and by the end of the
decade, Empire was history (but had ultimately emerged into Full
Moon Entertainment). Producer Brian Yuzna meanwhile has (as of
this writing) produced and directed 2 sequels to Re-Animator, Bride
of Re-Animator (1990) and Beyond Re-Animator
also starring Jeffrey Combs.