Thursday, October 17, 2013

Re-Animator (1985)

You know something's gone horribly wrong when an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story is described as a "campy send-up". Or, in the opinion of some, horribly right. Stuart Gordon, who also directed that other, somewhat better H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, From Beyond, recycled some of the cast there that he directed in this piece - in particular, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. And the Re-Animator's tongue-in-cheek approach is inspired in no small part by the former's over-the-top acting style. It was forgivable in From Beyond, since his character had been driven mad, but here as the mad scientist Herbert West, it's a little more conspicuous.

Granted, there is no shortage of gallows humor to be derived from the premise, which involves a scientist's success at re-animating dead tissue (in a way that is more Frankenstein than Night of the Living Dead). And I can't say that the Re-Animator is a bad movie. It's actually a lot of fun, with some great gore effects and an exciting climax. There's definitely room for movies like this one among the horror genre. Certainly, it's garnered an enthusiastic cult following. It's just that, the tone is all wrong for an H.P. Lovecraft story. Not to say that I think it's blasphemy, per se, but you'd think they'd at least try to downplay the fact that it's based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, not put his name right in front of the title...

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