Re-Animator is a movie pretty much every horror fan has seen, probably multiple times. The perverse plot's had a life of its own since author H.P. Lovecraft wrote it in 1921 and continues to live on as a popular musical stage play. The shocking and gory black comedy, which was released unrated in theaters in 1985, is now making its way to Blu-ray with a variety of special features.
I've certainly seen Re-Animator enough times to have only needed to spot check the Blu-ray quality (which is excellent — it's presented in a brand-new 1080p HD transfer approved by producer Brian Yuzna) but here's a brief overview for those who are new: "Re-Animator tells the strange tale of medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) and his girlfriend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton), both of them drawn to odd new student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) who's conducting secret experiments involving the re-animation of dead tissue. When one of the instructors, Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), stumbles upon their activities, West murders him -- but is brought back to life, now thirsting for revenge as well as lusting after Megan. The final denouement features the re-animated Dr. Hill squaring off against Herbert and Dan in a battle royale within the school's morgue, complete with resurrected henchmen and undoubtedly one of the greatest visual double entendres in all horror cinema!"
Re-Animator marked the feature cinematic debut of stage-director Stuart Gordon, and made stars of its cast (particularly Jeffrey Combs, who was absolutely excellent as Herbert West, and who has earned and maintains horror icon status). The fantastic, much-detailed and always dynamic documentary on the making of the film contains back-story on everything from the long journey of script to screen, humorous recollections on filming mishaps and victories, a truly interesting behind-the-scenes look at how the still-astounding special effects were achieved on a shoestring budget, controversy which surrounded the film's release, fan response, and its legacy.
The information given is indeed interesting (I thought I knew this story and movie inside and out, but I learned a lot — whomever came up with the questions and conducted the interviews did an excellent job of getting detail and nuance), but what's more, so is the visual presentation. Most behind the scenes featurette documentaries are just a bunch of talking heads (hm, that's apropos, given the film's most famous scenes!) with (sometimes) the occasional intercut film clip or still photo. Not so, in the case of "Re-Animator Resurrectus" — there's excellent editing, green screen compositing, archival film clips and outtakes, never before seen photos, and much more. Running over an hour long, the doc never loses its momentum.
On September 4th, the Re-Animator Blu-ray hits stores with a suggested retail price of $17.97. (Also available on DVD for an SRP of $9.98.) Very well worth the outlay.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Bonus features for the Re-Animator Blu-ray include:
Documentary: "Re-Animator Resurrectus"
Audio Commentary by Director Stuart Gordon
Audio Commentary by Producer Brian Yuzna and Actors Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Robert Sampson
Interview with Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna
Interview with Writer Dennis Paoli
Interview with Composer Richard Band
Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band
Interview with Fangoria Magazine editor Tony Timpone
Deleted and Extended Scenes