Posts Tagged ‘Re-Animator’

Re-Animator (1985)

October 10, 2016

I discussed last year that HP Lovecraft is a legendary writer. However, unlike a lot of other classic writers, I never really read any of his stuff. I am familiar with his mythos and the basic ideas he put out there but I never read an HP Lovecraft story from beginning until the end. I have never even touched a copy of one of his stories. His works were often published in short story form. In fact, his short stories and poetry far outnumbered his few novels. Most of his stories speak of powers beyond the control of man. They speak of ancient gods and monsters sleeping in the deep places, waiting to wake and return and reclaim or destroy the Earth. You know, whatever floats their boat. Due to movies, television, the internet and some really awesome cooperative board games, Lovecraft is making yet another comeback almost one hundred years after today’s story was first written. His work has also inspired other supernatural and science fiction franchises, giving them that epic feeling that his work seems to hold. Yet again, I am going by the few glimpses I have had of his work.

I have a problem. I know this is Halloween and it is my month of celebration but I want to briefly hit the pause button to discuss a relevant little roadblock I have hit recently. I have heard that HP Lovecraft was pretty racist. Considering he wrote a lot in the twenties (that’s the 1920’s for any future generations), it is unsurprising that he might have been racist. Lovecraft was American and born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1890. While he had been born in the north after slavery had been abolished, our country was far from the civil rights movement. Hell, people are still racist today. I decided to do a little research as I wrote this to confirm the charges because evidence is important. I can confirm that the man was racist. He felt that whites and specifically WASPs were superior to every other human on the planet. This has been confirmed by quite a few scholars and that includes crazy hobo Alan Moore. Thankfully that racism has not affected the enjoyment of films based on his works so far.

One of the first things I noticed is that even during the more mundane moments, there is a really good sense of dread throughout. You can just feel that something bad is going to happen and it’s just a matter of when. Most horror movies have this but a lot of them pour it on thick with music cues and camera angles. This movie uses lighting and almost casual gore (in its appropriate, non-horror hospital setting) to foreshadow the horror that is to come. I absolutely hate hospitals and these scenes had me squirming a lot. It is funny that I can easily watch a werewolf graphically devour someone but I cannot stand watching medical procedures. I should have known that this was set in a medical school but I gathered my courage to sit through a lot of the medical stuff to get to the horror gore. Of course, eventually they use the old familiar tricks like music cues but early on the movie is dreadfully mundane in the best ways.

The Netflix description for the movie said that it was “campy”. After watching The Raven, I disagree. I would better describe the acting in this movie as melodramatic. I had never really heard of most of the actors in this movie but Herbert West himself was in The Frighteners in a completely different role. In this, he was appropriately creepy by playing it straight as an earnest but misguided medical student. Bruce Abbott is really good as the protagonist of the film, swept up into madness before he can even think. Barbara Crampton, who has been in a ton of horror movies that I have not seen, was excellent as a rational character that, of course, nobody listens to. There were many in the movie who could apply the word “villain” to but I would definitely pick the excellent David Gale. Everybody’s acting was actually really great despite their often melodramatic line readings. Melodrama is often schlocky and out of place in a lot of situations but killer zombies kind of have a way of excusing melodrama. Speaking of killer zombies, the ones in this movie are really great. I know I have complained about zombies before but I guess I just did not see the right ones. This movie has zombies that are so horrible because I actually feel sorry for them. The expressions and movement of the zombies are some of the best that I have seen.

Overall, I really liked the movie. The movie is apparently a very loose adaptation of the first half of the original “Herbert West, Re-Animator” story that Lovecraft wrote. They obviously mixed in quite a bit of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and its familiar message against the arrogance of assuming control over life and death. However, it definitely keeps the body horror that Lovecraft’s works usually inspire and the general creepy and mysterious feelings contained in Lovecraft’s works. The gore also definitely flows and I love a horror movie that is not afraid to have fountains of blood in it. Still, there is more darkness in the movie than just the main plot. That darkness has more to do with human nature and the abuse of power and I really liked that element as well. There were a few bits of dark comedy but most of it was pretty spooky but not really outright scary. I definitely recommend this if you are a fan of good Eighties horror (or bad Eighties horror since your milage may vary).a

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