30th May2014

‘Re-Animator’ Blu-ray Review (Second Sight)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson, Gerry Black, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Barbara Peters | Written by Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli, William Norris | Directed by Stuart Gordon


If a budding horror geek was to ask what were the most important horror films that must be watch, I’m sure you could come up with a few.  There is one though that should be on the lips of all horror fan, an eighties film that was so important to horror that it became infamous, especially in the UK where it too decades before we got an uncut version.  In fact I consider myself lucky in getting the chance to see the unrated version on the big screen only a few years ago. Re-Animator is not only an important film in itself, but it is also the one that introduced us to director Stuart Gordon and actors Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton; icons of the horror genre.

Re-Animator is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West Re-Animator and tells the tale of Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) and his adventures in re-animation with Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs).  During their attempts to get the process of bringing the dead back to life they drag not only Cain’s girlfriend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton) into the chaos but also the Dean of the medical school, and Megan’s father, Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson).  As the corpses start piling up though, the real danger comes in the form of Dr. Carl Hill (Davd Gale) a power-hungry force whose greed recognises the power of West’s formula and the fame it will bring.

The best way to advertise Re-Animator to fans of horror is to call it a gore filled blood fest, and this would be a very good way to describe it.  The beauty of though is in the fact that it finds the perfect balance between humour and horror.  As Gordon says himself in his commentary track he discovered that horror and comedy have to be separated and balanced for them to work together, you can’t have them in the same scenes or they tend to cancel each other out.  What Re-Animator does so well is that it understands when the comedy elements work and when to up the horror elements.  Re-Animator can be very dark, but knows when humour can be just as powerful.

In this new Second Sight release of Re-Animator we are very lucky to have not only a new 4K restoration of the movie, but also a version known as the Integral version.  This Integral version is an extended cut of the film that includes many scenes that were cut out, but adds more to the narrative of the movie.  One of the most interesting additions added back in is the use of hypnosis by Dr. Hill.  I can understand why these elements were cut out as it does tend to drag the film out more, but the Integral version does tend to explain some of the more confusing elements of the story.

As well as the two versions of the film (uncut) there are two commentary tracks, one with Stuart Gordon and other with producer Brian Yuzna, Jeffrey Combs, Robert Sampson, Barbara Crampton and Bruce Abbot.  A documentary, Re-Animator Resurrectus also includes plenty of information about the film for people wanting to know more about its history.  It’s safe to say that this release, for the UK at release is the most definitive to this date.  Though fans will know that Re-Animator is one of those movies that seems to get more releases than many other horror films, which shows the level of its popularity.

Second Sight are a company that can be depended on to give horror films the releases they deserve, with Re-Animatorthey really have outdone themselves.  With two versions of the films, two excellent commentaries and the Re-Animator Resurrectus documentary this really feels like a fully complete release of a film that UK people were held from seeing in its full form for too long, and it’s a good reminder why this is one of the most loved horror films of the eighties.  For fans who already know Re-Animator well, or people wanting an introduction to Stuart Gordon’s classic, Second Sight’s excellent release is a must buy version of a true horror classic.

Re-Animator will be available on DVD and Limited Edition two-disc Blu-ray Steelbook from June 2nd 2014.

***** 5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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