Review: Re-Animator (Blu-ray)

Second Sight's long awaited UK Blu-ray release of Stuart Gordon's horror-comedy classic, Re-Animator, finally makes it debut!

  • Director: Stuart Gordon
  • Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott
  • Year: 1985
  • Runtime: 86 Mins/104 Mins
  • Company: Second Sight
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 2 - 50GB/25GB
  • Video: 1.78:1 - 1080p - AVC
  • Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, LPCM 2.0
  • Region:
  • Released: 6/2/2014

Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator is a true gem. From the eye-exploding opening scene; to the manic insanity of the limb-eviscerating finale; and all the gory, pitch-black humor filled moments in between, Re-Animator still to this day retains its' status as a classic in a decade bursting with them. No doubt largely thanks to the tremendous ensemble of actors who bring the students and faculty of the fictional Miskatonic University to life in career defining roles that continue to resonate. Many films have attempted to balance the tightrope act that is the horror-comedy, but few excel with such timeless precision and deft audacity as Re-Animator.
In one of the most memorable openings of all time, we're introduced to the titular Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) after a botched attempt at re-animating goes awry. Relocating to Miskatonic University to further his studies, West answers a roommate ad posted by Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott), a fellow medical student who risks losing it all by dating the school dean's gorgeous daughter, Megan (Barbara Crampton). West quickly sparks a rivalry with the sinister Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), a proposed plagiarist with a nasty lust for Megan who uses his friendship with the dean to suspend Herbert and Dan for good. But when Hill learns just exactly what that infamous glowing green re-agent can do, it's up to Herbert and Dan to put a stop to his perverse plans.
Based on the short story (and later serialized) Herbert West: Re-Animator from legendary author H.P. Lovecraft, Gordon's adaptation isn't as loosely based upon as it's just greatly expanded. Turning Lovecraft's brief work into a feature length film is no easy feat (adapting it as a mini-series for PBS was the original plan), but once upstart producer Brian Yuzna and distributor Empire Pictures (who'd go onto be frequent collaborators) stepped into the picture, all the cards fell into place for Gordon to take a leave of absence from his theater in Chicago to make it happen.
What makes Re-Animator so special is the marriage of a darkly sharp script by Dennis Paoli, a team of special effects artist's headed by John Carl Buechler that unleash some of the greatest gags in horror history, and standout performances from just about everyone who graces the screen. Combs was born to play Herbert West, his stoic anti-heroism and deadpan humor is utter perfection. I'd take watching him and David Gale go toe-to-toe in an endless match of verbal insults over a physical showdown any day of the week. Its' fearlessness creates an atmosphere unique to that era of filmmaking, where anything was possible, no matter how weird or grotesque. 
Re-Animator is the result of a group of hungry, young, talented actors and filmmakers uniting for the common goal of creating art; bloody, hilarious, and wildly entertaining art. This is still true today, maybe now more than ever. Stuart Gordon and his filmmaking crew exceedingly manged to effortlessly flesh out a legendary authors work, all the while becoming one itself, with laughs and carnage to spare.

  • Video
Mastered in 4K thanks to a brand new restoration, Re-Animator make its' UK Blu-ray debut from Second Sight. Let's alleviate any concerns up front; Second Sight's disc is a much welcomed improvement over the stateside Image Entertainment release. Colors are more faithfully reproduced, detail is much stronger, and the overall image is more focused. The neon green of West's re-agent in particular glows with such a great hue, skin tones (even the rotting corpses) look natural & warm, and print damage is minimal apart from some lines in the opening scene. Re-Animator has truly gotten the first rate release it deserves.
  • Audio
Two tracks are included: an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 Lossless PCM. The 5.1 is mostly center focused, but Richard Band's homage (some would say otherwise) to Charles Bernstein's legendary PSYCHO theme rings through better than ever. Dialogue is always clear, with no issues at all.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Director Stuart Gordon
  • Audio Commentary - Producer Brian Yuzna, Actors Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Robert Smpson, & Bruce Abbott
  • Documentary -  Re-Animator Resurrectus
Ported over from Anchor Bay's collector's edition DVD is the exceptional documentary, Re-Animator Resurrectus. This 70-minute doc (now in 1080p!) features interviews from all the key players involved with making the classic it is today, and is filled with some wonderful anecdotes (like revealing the original intent was to adapt the serials into a mini-series, and then a 16mm black & white feature!) that show just how long the process of bringing it to life took.
  • Interviews - Director Stuart Gordon, Producer Brian Yuzna, Writer Dennis Paoli, Composer Richard Band, & Fangoria Editor Tony Timpone
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Gallery/Trailers 
  • Integral Cut
Included on the second disc is the Integral Cut, which is basically just some deleted/additional scenes added back into the film. The transfer isn't as pristine as the Unrated Cut, surely having to do with the source material of the extra footage and shared storage of the bonus features on the disc. But don't let that bother you, it still looks great, and for completist sakes I'm more than happy with its' inclusion.