(director/writer: Stuart Gordon; screenwriters: H.P. Lovecraft/Dennis Paoli/William J. Norris; cinematographer: Mac Ahlberg; editor: Lee Percy; music: Richard Band; cast: Jeffrey Combs (Herbert West), Bruce Abbott (Dan Cain), Barbara Crampton (Megan Halsey), Peter Kent (Melvin the Re-Animated), Barbara Pieters (Nurse), Ian Patrick Williams (Swiss Professor), Robert Sampson (Dean Halsey), David Gale (Dr. Carl Hill), Gerry Black (Mace), Carolyn Purdy (Dr. Harrod); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Brian Yuzna; Empire Pictures; 1985)

A classic ground-breaking Grand Guignol horror picture.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A classic ground-breaking Grand Guignol horror picture directed and co-written by Stuart Gordon(“Stuck”/”Edmond”/”King of ther Ants”). The other writers are William Norris and Dennis Paoli. The wild-eyed pic sets a new standard for being acceptably outrageous and trashy in the horror genre. This was Gordon’s first film. He previously was the director of Chicago’s Organic Theater. The Re-Animator is based on the stories by H. P. Lovecraft. The shocker is that it is extremely violent, filled with nudity and a nasty humor.

After bounced from a Swiss college because he’s implicated in his mentor’s (Ian Patrick Williams) death, the crazed egotistical young medical student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) gets accepted to Miskatonic University. University officials are unaware that West invented a serum that can bring the dead back to life. He’s assisted in his illicit experiments by fellow student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott). West has no interest in the ethical consequences of his experiments. When the dead don’t come back in that great shape and are extremely violent, we got plenty of problems. What follows is an absurd but captivating story-line. It stands out as one of the weirdest cult films of the 1980s.

Its sick humor doesn’t suit all tastes. But I reacted favorably to its excesses and absurd story. The low-budget film might not be scary, but it’s crudely funny. The gross-out love scene between the head of David Gale and Barbara Crampton is a sight to see.

The animated manic performance by Combs made him an instant star among the cult film flock.

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