Re-animator

“These late night cosmic bowling parties have gotten way out of hand. Frank’s use of a severed head for league play was proof of that even if it did improve his score average.”

Thirty-four years old and I still hate going to the doctor’s office. First there’s the endless wait in the “waiting room”, but then they call you back to a smaller room that’s yet another waiting room…like it’s some sort of bad horror movie “Waiting Room 2.The Day the Doctor Never Came.” Sure, they say he’ll be in momentarily, but doctor time is on the canine time scale where minutes equal hours. “Soon” actually means “whenever he gets back from lunch.” There are only so many times I can read through the fascinating articles in Golf Digest and Home Pottery Magazine before I resort to the ever-popular games of “Ceiling Tile Counting” or seeing how long I can sleep while sitting up. So finally the doctor magically teleports in and runs through a series of questions the nurse had asked just hours before. “Do you have body aches?” “Yes.”  “Do you have a stuffy head?” “Yes.  Congrats, doc–you’ve just diagnosed that I am not feeling well. Then the prescription is for some over-the-counter medicine that he scribbles on a scrap of paper in cryptic ancient Celtic symbols, along with the advice of, “Get some rest and drink plenty of fluids.” I get charged $30 for the doctor’s visit; my insurance gets charged $3,000; and I go home and crawl back into bed. I should have gone to medical school instead of learning how to paint baskets of fruit.

Doctor Carl Hill in the cult classic “Re-animator” doesn’t really help me with my fear of doctors. He’s the “head” neurosurgeon at the Miskatonic Medical School, where he enjoys peeling cadavers’ heads like oranges in his neurosurgery class, and practices suggestive hypnosis at his dinner parties in the evenings. Our hero Dan Cain, played by Bruce Abbott, is a student there, along with his girlfriend, Megan (Barbara Crampton), and are having some nookie while playing hooky off school grounds. All is happy until Herbert West suddenly appears from a stint in Sweden and insists of being Dan’s new roommate but apparently didn’t read the fine print of no deposit returns in case of blood stains in the apartment lease. West wants to use the basement to perform his continuing studies on re-animating dead flesh, create the ultimate glo-stick, and defy God’s will–typical medical school stuff. Instead of picking the obvious test subjects of a Larry King or John McCain, he uses a dead pet cat, causing the feline to turn into a raging, vicious hell-beast that tries to rip them apart. In other words, your average cat.

Learning from his continuing failures, Herbert is ready to test his re-animation serum on some real stiffs in the morgue. Could this be the ultimate energy drink? He and Dr. Hill sneak in past another dimwitted, made-for-film security guard and inject the serum into a recent accident victim, resulting in a spastic reaction similar to the cat. Then the Dean of the school stumbles in on them, so they shoot him up with some of dead juice, too. Is there a help group for people like this?  Perhaps some sort of DRA (Dead Revivers Anonymous)?

Doc Hill arrives at Herbert’s basement un-announced and plans to take the secrets of the serum and claim it as his own invention. Herbert hits him upside the head with a shovel, and proceeds to remove the doc’s head from his body and re-animate it. Now, that’s how you solve a copyright (an intellectual property?) dispute! But the headless doc outsmarts Herbert, kidnaps Megan, and sneaks into the morgue to perform some group lobotomies. Being decapitated really improves one’s productivity.

Dan and Herbert soon confront the doctor, who is trying to get busy with Megan on an examination table (Can we say, “Sexual harassment lawsuit?”), and then they have to take on a legion of walking dead, exploding chests, and frisky intestine tentacles. Actually med school doesn’t sound very appealing now.

This film is on my Amazon’s Listmania as one of the essential must see cult/b-movies from the 1980’s. It redefines the genre of zombie/mad scientist/dark gore comedies. Well It’s actually the only one in that genre, but it does redefine it. Stuart Gordon directed this classic based loosely on a H.P. Lovercraft short story, as well as another great film, “The Beyond.” Though it did spawn several lackluster sequels, this one is definitely the crown jewel. Also we need to give an honorable mention for Jeffery Combs for creating one of the best horror movie characters in cinematic history, Herbert West. He makes over-acting a work of art. He’s in the same league as Bruce Campbell as Ash for his pure awesome-ness. So check it out, but don’t let your doctor give you that shot of the glowing green stuff,even if he says it’s just to clear your sinuses.

Keep an eye out for…

– Jiffy-Pop eyeballs
– head peeling
– zombie cats
– finger snacks
– labatonomy parties
– skater rink glo-stick overdose
– intestine wranglin’
– padded rooms with a view
– zombie boobies
– horny disembodied heads (is that even possible?)
– the ultimate tribute to the band Talking Heads


rated 9.4 out of 10 for the movie


Check out the trailer for Re-animator