Stuart Gordon put himself on the horror map with this H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. Dr. Herbert West (troll-like Jeffrey Combs) is the would-be Victor Frankenstein here who develops a glowing green serum that can bring dead tissue back to life. Unfortunately, it’s just as effective on severed limbs as it is on whole bodies. So when his rival, Dr. Hill (David Gale) goes mad with power, he proves awfully hard to stop, even after West beheads him. Oh, also, he’s horny, which leads to a filthy visual pun in which his chopped-off noggin violates poor, shackled Barbara Crampton (a scream queen who should have had a Jamie Lee Curtis-like career).
Yes, there are some tongue-in-cheek moments, but most of the film is straight-up shocks, from revived pets to an army of zombies. The effects are gory and over-the-top, but Combs manages to keep things grounded with an intense performance that goes for deadly earnestness over camp. Gordon made two more Re-Animator sequels, and there was even a Broadway musical, but this is still the one to turn to for fun and screams.
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