REANIMATE YOUR FEET TO THE VIDEO STORE
DVD REVIEW | DEC 30, 2003
I love the original Re-Animator. Herbert West’s trials as a modern day Dr. Frankenstein never fail to make me laugh. Stuart Gordon took H.P. Lovecraft’s most well known short story, added an intelligent, super-camp splatstick twist, and created one of the penultimate cult classics of the 80’s. Even after multiple viewings, the film is just as fun and just as fresh as the first time I saw it.
Then there’s Bride of Re-Animator, Brian Yuzna’s (the producer of the first Re-Animator) follow up to Gordon’s classic. Herbert west moved on from reanimating whole bodies to sewing up assorted parts in order to make a perfect specimen. While an interesting mishmash of Lovecraft’s short and Shelley’s Frankenstein, it had only half the heart and the fun of the original film. Alas, I could only bring myself to watch it once.
So it was with much skepticism that I approached the third film in the Re-Animator series. Of course, these films are not ones to be analyzed on anything except their ability to entertain (They’re horrific cotton candy for the cult film connoisseur), but the fact that it debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel, only to have an uncut, straight to DVD release at a later date, combined with my bad memories of Yuzna’s Return of the Living Dead Part 3 and Bride of Re-Animator had me thinking even my lowest expectations may not be fulfilled. But even that couldn’t completely squash my excitement for the film.
Thankfully Beyond Re-Animator proved to be much better than Bride and Return combined. Yuzna’a second attempt is a very entertaining film, though not quite in the same league as the first film.
As the film starts, we join Herbert West (the ever lovin’ Jeffrey Combs) as one of his experiments gets loose and kills a few of his neighbors. Naturally the cops don’t take too kindly to Herbert’s form of recreation and decide to lock him up. As Herbert is whisked away to an awaiting squad car he gives his prized Re-Animation serum (aka: the re-agent) to the surviving sibling of the family next door. Thirteen years pass and we rejoin Dr. West in his prison cell, still hard at work, this time performing experiments on the rats he catches scurrying between the walls.
The prison receives aide of a young doctor enlisted to help out in the infirmary. The doctor is supposedly seeking to study the effects of institutionalization on a prisoner’s life, as well as his death, and naturally seeks out the help of Dr. West (the only inmate with Medical knowledge). Of course the new doctor is the kid who Herbert passed his serum, and he and his neon re-agent juice are re-united almost immediately.
But West has more on his mind than just re-using his old tricks. Through his time in isolation he’s discovered Nano-Plasma, essentially the bottling of a human soul for use in a later re-insertion into a re-animated subject, and which could possibly be the key to maintaining a conscious, non-hostile state in said re-animated corpse. But, with crazed prisoners, a warden whose methods of keeping order rely on humiliation and torture, a young busty blonde with a strange interest in the institution, and West’s propensity for experimentation gone wrong, it’s only a matter of minutes before things get way out of hand.
The film is an odd hybrid. Both a prison film, and a Re-Animator film you have undead corpses, un-ethical experimentation, and gross out humour juxtaposed with prison riots and evil wardens. In a more serious film this would never work. Luckily Yuzna understands that camp should remain exactly that, and allows the viewer to retain whatever suspension of disbelief is achievable with such an oddball story.
Also, Yuzna wisely chooses to use prosthetics for nearly every gross out special effect. For horror films there is nothing better than having an actual prop for an actor to interact with. Although they may look “fake” to the trained eye, they still look MUCH more realistic than any CGI effect could ever hope to appear. Make sure you stick around through the end credits for a hilarious sequence involving a dismembered member fighting a re-animated rat. Priceless.
On to Special Features:
As far as extras are concerned, this disc is fairly sparse. You have a fairly informative Director’s Commentary, a short making of documentary which features the cast and crew having fun on set, and a Euro-Techno-Pop music video by Dr. RE-ANIMATOR called “Move Your Dead Bones” where a singer dressed in a labcoat dances through settings in the film while chanting :
“Move your Dead bones (bones bones)
Move your dead bones (bones bones)
the secret will keep you alive.
move your dead bones (bones bones)
move your dead bones (bones bones)
you’ll dance for the rest of your life-
RE-ANIMATE YOUR FEET!”
Actually, it’s so bad it’s really really fun. Catchy too.
The documentary is pretty informative and the crew comes across as having had a whole bunch of fun on the set. It’s entertaining but, naturally, not essential for enjoyment of the film.
Whether because of lowered expectations, or honest enjoyment of the film,
I can’t say. I just know I had a lot of fun while it lasted. While
not quite as good as the original film, for Re-Animator fans, this is definitely
worth a watch.