Review : Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator, directed by Stuart Gordon and released in 1985, is loosely based on a novella written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1922. The film was distributed by Empire Pictures (the company created by Charles Band before Full Moon). Re-Animator has reached the status of cult classic over the years.

Re-Animator tells the story of Herbert West, a medical student who succeeded in creating a serum which can re-animate dead bodies. In Zurich, he manages to bring his dead professor back to life but there are disgusting side effects as the dosage was too high. Accused of killing the professor, Herbert West moves to New England and enrolls in university to further his studies. When he demonstrates to his roommate, Dan, the power of his discovery, the latter joins him to further test the serum. This leaves the students expelled from school with a trail of re-animated corpses behind them.

Re-animator is the perfect example of a horror comedy done right. The mad scientist premise has been used countless times and, on paper, it sounds a bit ridiculous. Instead of working against it, the film completely embraces it and does exactly what should be done : it goes over the top and delivers a gory experience with plenty of dark humor. I loved the tone of Re-Animator and its unique style. It has a good rhythm and is never boring.

The story being a mix of Frankenstein and zombies, it offers a reflexion on the God complex that is often associated on screen to scientists and doctors and the acceptance of our own mortality. Add to that a high dose of blood and gore and gags, and you get the perfect entertaining cinematic experience. Of course, Re-Animator has its flaws and I could nitpick as I often like to do. I also could list everything that doesn’t make sense. I won’t bother because this film has good acting, a fun story, great practical effects and this is all I wanted !

Finally, I just want to write a few words about what is, in my opinion, the greatest strenght of the film : Jeffrey Combs’ performance as Herbert West. It may be the first time I thought an actor acting over the top was brilliant and made the right choice. He absolutely nails the part of the scientist slowly descending into madness. The rest of the cast does a fine job as well but I do believe Re-Animator would be nothing without Jeffrey Combs.

If you love horror, you are bound to love Re-Animator. I have no clue why it took me so long to watch this classic and I can see myself rewatching it several times in the future. Learn from my mistakes : don’t wait any longer, watch it now!

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Memories of Murder : Limited Edition Blu-ray Boxset

On July 11th, 2018, La Rabbia Studio released Memories of Murder on blu-ray. It’s the first time the film has been released on blu-ray (to my knowledge). Until now, there was only a DVD edition, long out-of-print. Two editions are now available and being an admirer of Bong Joon-Ho’s masterpiece, I pre-ordered the limited edition back in April.

The packaging is minimalist and elegant. The black background really compliments the red blood spatter. The title is written in a white typewriter font. The back is plain. Upon opening the boxset, you discover two items inside : a thick book and a digibook.

The design of the digibook is very similar to the outer box with some variations. The background is bright white and the title is written on a golden banner. There are some hangul symbols which probably spell the title in Korean (don’t quote me on that, I barely know the hangul alphabet). The back of the digibook describes the content that can be found on the three discs which this edition contains. I haven’t dived into the special features at the time I am writing those lines but the most interesting one seems to be an hour-long (exclusive) documentary produced in 2017. There are other numerous features : a making-of from 2003, featurettes, deleted scenes etc… And, of course, the digibook comes with a booklet with information on the film.

The thick book included in the boxset is quite the collector piece : it is the complete storyboard, translated into french. Below are a few pictures of the inside, to give you a glimpse of the art style. This item is the reason why I think people who do not understand french should purchase the digibook alone instead of this limited edition. I think it’s fantastic that they offer us the opportunity to read the entire storyboard and not just random excerpts.

As a bonus, below is a gallery showing you the DVD edition that was the only available copy of the film until today (the last two are the blu-ray and DVD, side by side)