Thursday, September 6, 2007

Beyond Re-Animator

As promised, here’s the third (and currently final, though a fourth has been announced) Re-Animator film, and it’s just about as good as the second one. We open at a pleasant suburban home, whose gentle tranquility is soon shattered by the arrival of a re-animated corpse that quickly kills a teenage girl living there while her younger brother watches on in horror, then watches as we cut to the police arresting Dr. Herbert West (once again played to the hilt by Jeffrey Combs) before jumping ahead to his fourteenth year in prison.

The cast quickly assembles itself as much as it needs to. Combs obviously steals the show, as he did in the first two films, but a psychopathic warden played by Simon Andreu gives him a run for his brilliantly overacting money. There’s also the new prison doctor, who of course was the young boy that witnessed his sister being murdered at the beginning, and who now wants to join West in his experiments, and the plucky young reporter chick that’s trying to get a big story to make her career. There’s also the standard hodgepodge of violent and crazy prisoners, and they come into full use in the second half of the film, when a riot breaks out and the dead begin to come back to life (my favorite of the prisoners was a Tommy Chong lookalike that took the opportunity of the riot to swipe some of West’s serum to shoot up with, with some hilariously grotesque results).

Things go from bad to worse, as they always do in these films, and the warden quickly sees the potential in West’s serum to punish prisoners indefinitely, as a mere execution ends their pain far too quickly, and starts killing and reviving everyone so as to torture them further. The bad guys do eventually get punished, of course, as do most of the good guys (it really isn’t safe to be friends with Dr. West), and West makes his escape to delight us all in House of Re-Animator, which won’t be coming soon enough. This series is everything horror movies should be – funny, vulgar, grotesque, and, above all, entertaining. I think the lengthy delays between each film has definitely helped the series, as, unlike with its more famous horror brethren, the filmmakers actually had enough time to properly plan out each one to make them so damned impressive. Go hunt down the entire series, you won’t be disappointed.

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