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Re-Animator follows the story of Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), a young medical student in love with his fiancée, Megan (Barbara Crampton). To make a bit of extra money, Dan allows fellow student Herbert West (Jeffery Combs) to move in with him. Soon, however, Dan discovers that Herbert has secretly been working on a serum that, when injected into the back of the neck, can bring the dead back to life. The two decide to go out and test this serum on dead animals. It works. Because of this, they go out to test it on something even bigger: human beings.
Re-Animator opens with a fast and shockingly violent scene that ends up tame in comparison to the rest of the movie. To be honest, I really didn't expect the opening two minutes to escalate to the degree that it did. It was incredibly bloody and rather shocking, but also very welcome. I like surprises like that. A surprise I like even more is when the rest of the film remains on that level, or even exceeds it, as this film does. Trust me when I say that if you are turned off or too disturbed by the violence in the opening scene then this film really isn't for you. The film relies on gore and violence to bring its shocks rather than legitimate scares. The film can be fairly suspenseful when it wants to be, but it's more of a body horror film. An effective one too. This film goes down directions that are both delightfully disturbing and rather wrong all at the same time. This whole film is wrong, but it's a good wrong. It's a grizzly, gory, and cringe worthy film in the best way possible.
As the film goes on it just gets bloodier and bloodier, leading to a conclusion that's immensely satisfying. I can not say this enough; this film is gory. It really surprises me to hear that this film originally received an M classification here in Australia, which is equivalent to the American PG-13 for those who aren't aware. By the time we hit the film's finale this film is just off the hooks. I won't go into details as it's best left unspoilt, but it's nuts. The conclusion is gory, exciting and stressful, on top of its large entertainment factor. The character of Herbert West is a likeable psychopath, and by the time the film's run its coarse, anything could happen. And anything does happen. Well, really, everything imaginable happens, and it's freaking awesome to watch.
The film is really well written. These characters feel real. They feel fleshed out and believable, and their dialogue only rarely misses the mark. When it does it's not irregular or unnatural, it's just a bit clichéd. I haven't really heard of these writers before, or even the guy who directed the movie, but it saddens me to hear that their careers didn't really go anywhere after this film. They've done a few things (I think one of them made Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? Maybe?), but nothing quite as talented as what they've crafted here. Re-Animator works, and it works really well. It's funny, violent and funny. I said funny twice, but that's simply because it deserves to be mentioned twice. This film can be hilarious. We need more films like Re-Animator. Perhaps it's too late for that now, but I can always dream, right? Oh, and no, Human Centipede does not count.
To sum up, we need more films like Re-Animator. The film is violent, disturbing, shocking, well-written, hilarious when it wants to be, and goes down paths that you can't see coming. I miss watching this film already. Another round? Yes please.