When Herbert West, a medical student who was working in Switzerland with the late Dr. Gruber, starts at the Miskatonic Medical School in Massachusetts, he is quickly introduced to a promising young student called Dan Cain and the world renowned brain surgeon Dr. Hill. Upon meeting Dr. Hill, West makes it very clear that he feels Dr. Hill's work is useless and outdated. Soon after his introduction, Herbert moves into Dan's spare room where he discovers that Dan is seeing the school Dean's daughter Megan. Megan seems instantly creeped out by West and his strange behaviour, and for good reason as it isn't long before Dan gets dragged into West's bizarre experiments aimed at reanimating the dead. The two break into the school and begin their experiments which accidentally leads to the death of Megan's father, soon after Dr. Hill discovers exactly what they've been upto and tries to steal their work, leading to a gory, grotesque and often hilarious battle between West and Hill.
Horror legend Jeffrey Combs is a joy to watch as Herbert West, he plays the role with such sinister relish that it's impossible not to like him. A lot of the films comedy comes from how straight Combs plays the role, and along with From Beyond, Castle Freak and The Frighteners, this is his best work. The other real standout performance comes from the late David Gale as Dr. Carl Hill, Herbert West's nemesis. He died aged just 54 and I haven't seen anything else he made apart from the sequel, a shame he appeared in so little as he's wonderful in Re-Animator. Barbara Crampton is very pretty and played her role as Megan well, she later teamed up again with Combs in Castle Freak. Bruce Abbot and Robert Sampson round off the main cast as Dan Cain and the Dean Alan Halsey, but Combs and Gale are what make this film so endlessly enjoyable. I love the direction from Stuart Gordon and i'm sure the actors loved it too, this was his first proper film and to this day it's his best. He quickly followed it up a few years later with the excellent From Beyond and Dolls, after the 80's his films have been a little bit more hit and miss, but Fortress, Castle Freak, Dagon and Stuck are all very watchable. Re-Animator virtually steals Bernard Herrmann's fantastic Psycho score, but it fits the film so well that I can't imagine the film without it. There's some nudity, and lots and lots of over the top gratuitous gore. The effects and gore are brilliant considering this 1985 classic was made for under $1,000,000, it's probably the bloodiest over the top film i've seen along with Evil Dead 2 and Braindead.
This 2 disc special edition is packed with extras, especially when compared to the near barebones dvd I owned previously. On disc 1 there's what appears to be a cleaned up version of the film as it looks better than my old copy, there's a commentary from director Stuart Gordon and a second commentary from producer Brian Yuzna (later a director himself and director of the sequels), and actors Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton and Robert Sampson. Of course it would have been even better with David Gale. Disc 2 is just as good, a brilliant 70 minute making of, interviews with Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, further interviews with writer Dennis Paoli, composer Richard Band and Fangoria editor Tony Timpone. A music discussion with Richard Band, deleted scenes, extended scenes, trailer, tv spots, production stills gallery, behind the scenes still gallery, fun on the set gallery, posters and advertising gallery, storyboard gallery, Stuart Gordon biography, the screenplay and finally Herbert West, Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft from which the film is based. It's a great dvd and what all special editions should be like, check out the Poltergeist "special edition" to see how little is on some. Considering how much is on the discs, it seems crazy that there's no subtitles which would obviously be a big problem for some.
Re-Animator is a great film and now has a great special edition, one of the best horror comedies ever made and if you're not too squeamish and aren't bothered by the perverted, gratuitous tone, you should love it.