Humanity understands the fundamental concepts of life and the inevitability of death. No matter how many times we try to resurrect the dead, it simply isn’t possible to reverse fate. While this concept is fascinating and exploratory in nature, many horror films explore death in a generic and dull manner. The fact is that in this day and age, zombies can be outdated and plain annoying. Stiff body movements, animalist growls, and head shots are becoming the norm.
Re-Animator, which was created in 1985, brilliantly explores death through varying lenses. The story focuses on a young doctor, Herbert West, experimenting on dead bodies and bringing them back to life. Herbert has the ability to resurrect with a reagent, unfortunately the injection results in extreme behaviors and zombie tendencies. While at medical school Herbert drags his roommate, Dan Cain, and Dan’s girlfriend, Megan Halsey, into the drama. Bringing people back to life is a nasty business that results in plenty of death and destruction.
Many movies would take this concept and spin it into a serious manner. Instead, Re-Animator asks the viewer to see not only the seriousness of the situation, but also the humor of it all. Plenty of deadpan jokes and splatstick moments result in a fun experience. The thin line between comedy and horror is perfectly balanced by the director, Stuart Gordon. Whenever I felt as if the movie was becoming too comedic for its own good, a gory and sinister moment would pop out. The sudden changes in emotion are incredibly refreshing and create a rollercoaster of feelings. Jumping from laughter, to disgust, to fear is the norm in Re-Animator.
Just like many gory films, Re-Animator is not for everyone. The blood is over the top, which can push some people away. There are also very few moments of pure terror, so this movie is not the one to pick if you are just looking to be scared. Instead, Re-Animator focuses on comedic moments hidden within sexual scenarios. A chopped off head painfully attempting to kiss a woman or a cat jumping on a couple having sex are the kind of moments that exist in this film. You may be laughing through it all, but in the back of your head you are totally creeped out by what’s going on. If creeps and perverts don’t freak you out, then good ol' fashioned gore can do it. Pulling out eyes and chopping off heads has never seemed so fun, yet so damn nasty. The visual intensity of this film and the constant barrage of blood and humor results in a movie that can’t be watched casually, but that first time watching it is a total treat.
Humor can’t make up for scares, but Re-Animator has such a healthy dose of both that it is difficult not to fall in love with this film. On top of that, comedic acting and gore are juxtaposed with chills and an amazing score. The splatstick style of this movie is bound to push some people away, but it is also what allows it to feel so fresh and enjoyable. A film this rich and full isn’t the kind of movie you watch all of the time, but it is one that you can truly respect and appreciate.