Sunday Scare: Re-animator Limited Edition Review

If the prospect of Monday morning wasn’t scary enough, have a frightful end to your weekend with the FILM IN WORDS Sunday Scare.


Words: Brody Rossiter
Twitter: @BrodyRossiter


Rivalling Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead in the shock and gore stakes – especially when viewing the ‘unrated’ version presented in this limited edition steelbook release – Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story, Herbert West-Reanimator, confronted ‘80’s audiences with a stomach churning concoction of exploitation horror and splatterhouse shocks. Achieving cult status, much in part to the fandom directed towards Jeffrey Combs and his portrayal of Re-animator‘s resident pasty-faced Dr. Death, Herbert West, the picture still boasts a sinister tone and memorable collection of eyeball popping set-pieces – that despite their aesthetic limitations are still capable of summoning both laughs and scares.

Arriving from Switzerland with the intention of continuing his mentor, Dr. Gruber’s research into “brain death” and subsequent “re-animation”, the ghoulish Herbert West moves into the house of fellow medical trainee Dan Cain, continuing his experimentation in the unsuspecting student’s basement. Following a somewhat comical exchange with a twice dead, and heavily mutilated cat, Dan is sucked in to West’s grisly quest for injecting life back into medical school cadavers that are far past their sell by date.

As with many modern revampings of cult VHS classics, the greatly improved visuals present both positives and negatives from an aesthetic perspective. Though watching West administer his luminous green concoction, and the subsequent cocktail of blood and guts that follows, is more vibrant than ever, the lo-fi nature of the visual effects is often fully exposed, highlighting the films signs of age and diminishing its potency and charm in the process.

Fortunately, this limited edition package doesn’t feel like a meaningless cash grab, but rather a celebration of Re-animator’s schlocky glory. With two discs worth of HD (4K to be specific) content and treasure trove of bonus features, fans of both the picture and this bombastic variety of the horror genre will be flailing wildly as revived corpse to get their stiff little fingers on this release.

In 1985 Re-animator provided a much-needed kick in the teeth to a floundering genre obsessed style of horror filmmaking that gorged itself on hockey masks, sharp, pointy objects, and monster mash-ups.The black humour and committal to its ghastly visuals remain perfectly intact (unlike the physical form of West’s acquaintances) and today its vital signs are still just as strong as ever, presenting a preposterous and unique horror classic that is more than deserving of being brought back to life.

The Film: 4/5

The Blu-ray/DVD: 5/5

The Total Package: 4.5/5


Re-animator limited edition steelbook edition is available on Blu-ray June 2nd courtesy of Second Sight. Order you copy here.

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