“I must say, Dr. Hill, I’m VERY disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed coed.” – Herbert West
This last Saturday was my birthday and after a full evening of celebration, I capped it all off with a midnight screening of one of my all-time favorite horror-comedies from the 80s, RE-ANIMATOR at the New Bev! The place was packed with rabid horror fans and my friends were almost as excited as I was to check out it out on the big screen. I first saw RE-ANIMATOR on VHS back when I was a teen and later as a midnight movie at The Music Box Theatre in Chicago, when I was in college.
To make it all even COOLER, the director – STUART GORDON and Dr. Herbert West himself – the brilliant JEFFREY COMBS, were in attendance to introduce the film and do a Q and A!
The two are currently working together on a play called NEVERMORE, in which GORDON directs COMBS as EDGAR ALLEN POE. The show is running through the 19th of December at The Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood and I can’t wait to see it.
STUART GORDON talked about how he adapted RE-ANIMATOR from a series of stories by H.P. LOVECRAFT and how he developed the script while directing stage theatre in Chicago. He was working with so many great actors, like JOE MANTEGNA and DENNIS FRANZ, he decided to make a movie. Someone suggested he write a horror film because they were easy to get financed and that got the ball rolling.
JEFFREY COMBS was asked what he thought of the new comic book that features HERBERT WEST and ASH from EVIL DEAD fighting each other. He said he didn’t feel they were doing him justice, but I think he was flattered.
COMBS also threw out some big props to costar BRUCE ABBOTT for helping him deliver such a great performance by being so wonderful to play off of.
If you’ve never seen RE-ANIMATOR before, check out this crazy-ass scene…
RE-ANIMATOR (1985) tells the tale of the eccentric Dr. Herbert West (JEFFREY COMBS), a brilliant medical student who has discovered a serum that can re-animate the dead and bring them back to life. Sort of. You see, the dead don’t like coming back to life and they violently destroy themselves, or whomever is near them, when they do.
When West rents a room with another med student named Dan (BRUCE ABBOTT), the experimentation revs up to full steam. Before long, West is bringing back Dan’s hot girlfriend’s (BARBARA CRAMPTON) cat back to life, as well as her dead father and all the cadavers in the morgue.
When the slimy Dr. Hill (DAVID GALE) decides to blackmail West and take the serum for his own, well let’s just say he looses his head over it, literally. Things get REALLY insane after that, including a scene that features a decapitated head performing oral on a bound and naked young coed. OH!
RE-ANIMATOR is a wonderfully satisfying movie, from beginning to end! It is one of the nuttiest and wittiest gross out horror films ever made and features an iconic performance by JEFFREY COMBS as Herbert West. He OWNS the fuck out of this movie from the first scene!
The acting and script elevate RE-ANIMATOR to a level of high art and it won the critics award at Cannes the year it was shown.
Siskel and Ebert were divided on it, when they reviewed it on their show. Ebert loved it, but Siskel gave it a thumbs down. Later, he did a total 360 and recommended it when it was released on video, proving all critics are bullshit. Except me, of course.
The special effects are all in-camera and really deliver on the splatter-meter. It also has a very cool score from RICHARD BAND that borrows so much from BERNARD HERRMANN’S PSYCHO, he probably owes him a few bucks.
RE-ANIMATOR was always a perfect midnight movie and I’m so glad I got to see it with my friends on my birthday. I’d love to see STUART GORDON’S follow up, FROM BEYOND (another brilliant JEFFREY COMBS performance) grace the New Bev screen in the future (hint, hint). I WILL be seeing the GORDON/COMBS creative team in action on stage with NEVERMORE and I will report on that soon.