Elite Entertainment // 1985 // 86 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 12th, 2000
Herbert West has a very good head on his shoulders...and another one in a dish on his desk.
Ah, I ask you, is there anything better than a horror film that combines zombies, green goop in a syringe, a mad scientist, nubile co-eds and a fake rubber cat attacking people in a basement? Oh, my friends, if you say there is, then you must have been licking asbestos off the ceiling again.
Re-Animator was released in the early years of the DVD format by Elite Entertainment, and was THE film that I was eager to purchase when I first got my DVD player. Compared to the VHS copies of Re-Animator that have been floating around for years that have been very hard to find, this DVD is a Godsend (AND un-rated...everyone together...oooohhh...ahhhh). This DVD is why the format makes me often times feel like Ralphie at Christmas opening his Red Ryder under the tree!
Herbert West...scientist, genius, intellectual...and madman. Strange things have been happening at the local Miskatonic University. Dr. Daniel Cain, resident intern at the University, is looking for a new roommate to share his apartment, and Herbert West is just the man to fit the bill. But just what is Dr. West up to in his room late at night? And why have body parts been missing from the local morgue?
Well, I'll tell you why...zombies zombies zombies! And this ain't your father's Night of the Living Dead, folks! These zombies have more gloop and goop hanging off them than my year-old nephew's nose. Without giving too much away, the inevitable happens. Zombies + freedom = chaos. Finally, math equations that I love to do!
Based on the short stories of late horror author H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator was released in 1985 to critical praise and decent box office receipts. Over the past 15 years it has gone from indie splatterfest to bona fide cult hit. From one gross out scene to the next, Re-Animator rolls along with the pace and verve of Sam Raimi's cult flick Evil Dead II, sans the "Three Stooges" humor. This is a thick, dark, viscous black comedy that has plenty of gore and guffaws in it to please any die-hard horror fan. Not for the faint of heart or the Politically Correct. In other words, if you have Amish relatives, crack out The Man from Snowy River, not this little ditty of a film.
What can I say? I love this movie. These are the types of films my parents tried to stop me from watching as a kid, warning that they would rot your brain. And by God they were right. A great story, surprisingly good acting with a great cast.
The video transfer looks absolutely terrific! It's widescreen but non-anamorphic, so poo-poo to Elite for that, but otherwise it's the best I've ever seen Re-Animator look. The blacks do tend to get a little light, but otherwise are sharp and crisp.
The audio sounds great to my ears, considering the age and the budget it was on. For the DVD transfer, a 3-stripe mono audio mag used for the soundtrack. I haven't a clue what that means; I just saw it on the back of the case and thought it would make me sound much more audio savvy than I really am.
As for the extras, we get two commentaries with the cast (Bruce Abbot, Jeffery Combs, Robert Sampson, Barbara Crampton), the director, Stuart Gordon and the producer Brian Yuzna (who would go on four years later to direct the sequel, Bride of Re-Animator). Both commentaries are a hoot, with the cast and crew poking fun of the film as well as reminiscing and sharing secrets to the special effects. Also included is over 20 minutes of additional "R-Rated" footage, including a never before seen "dream sequence" and other deleted scenes. This footage is interesting in as much as it is all done in full frame, and is in a bit of rough condition. I can see why the scenes were cut out, but as a fan, it's still great to see that they put these on the disc. Finally there are a bunch of trailers and TV spots, which are highly entertaining. This also marks the first time that I have ever seen a commentary track on the trailers and TV spots. Very weird, but a great bonus.
Also there are interactive menus. Whoop-dee-doo.
Of course, the fact that Re-Animator is non-anamorphic makes me say "El suckarino," but you also have to consider that this was released back in 1997, so I forgive Elite Entertainment for that. My only other complaint is minor, in that there is no paper insert with any liner notes or photos for the inside of the case. But ya know what? I'm happy as Kate Moss eating Rice cakes to have this disc, so I ain't complainin'.
Overall a wonderful disc to own with great extras and a great transfer. To my knowledge, this is the only time Re-Animator has ever been offered as widescreen on the video format (except laserdisc). One of the top 10 horror films ever made in my book, a renter or, better yet, a buyer would be very pleased to have this in their collection. And the fact that a supporting actor gets his head chopped off halfway into the film and still has dialogue just tickles my pickles.
Re-Animator, the Pink Flamingos of horror films, is acquitted and free to roam the rental shelves for unsuspecting patrons who think this will be a nice lil' horror film from the '80s. I'm sure that means we'll see him back in court soon. And Elite is acquitted as well, but slapped on the wrists for a non-anamorphic transfer. Shame on you, Elite.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Two Commentary Tracks with Cast and Crew
* 20 Minutes of Deleted Scenes
* Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots