At Zurich University Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, Herbert West brings his dead professor, Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry), back to life with horrific side-effects because, as West explains, the dosage was too large. When accused of killing Gruber, West counters: “I gave him life!”
In the emergency room of the hospital at Miskatonic University in New England, medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) tries in vain to revive a patient after other medical personnel have given her up as dead.
Dan is dating Megan (Barbara Crampton), daughter of school dean Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson). West arrives at Miskatonic in order to further his studies. West rents a room from Dan and converts the building’s basement into his own personal laboratory. There is an instant animosity between West and faculty member Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). West declares that Hill stole the theory of brain death from West’s late mentor, Dr. Gruber. Dan discovers that West has re-animated Dan’s dead cat, Rufus, with a glowing reagent. West recruits Dan as his partner in research to defeat death. Megan dislikes West, especially after discovering Rufus re-animated in a state of dismemberment.
Hill manages to turn Halsey against both West and Dan. Barred from the school, West and Dan sneak into the morgue to test the reagent on a human subject in an attempt to salvage their medical careers. The corpse revives and goes on a rampage, attacking the duo. Dean Halsey stumbles upon the scene originally to force them out of the morgue for trespassing and, despite attempts by both West and Dan to save him, is brutally killed by the re-animated corpse. Armed with a bone saw, West finally manages to dispatch that which he has only just brought back to life. Hardly fazed by the violence and excited at the prospect of working with a freshly dead specimen, West injects Halsey with the reagent. Halsey returns to life, but in a zombie-like state.
Hill discovers West’s work and gains guardianship over Halsey whom he puts in a padded cell adjacent to his office. Dan and Megan break into Hill’s office where they find evidence that Hill has a secret obsession with Megan and has lobotomized her father. Hill has gone to confront West in his basement lab and threatens to blackmail him to continue his research so that Hill can take credit for West’s reagent. While Hill is distracted, West decapitates Hill with a shovel. Overcome with curiosity, West re-animates both Hill’s head and body. While West is questioning Hill’s head and taking notes, Hill’s body knocks out West. The body carries the head and steals West’s reagent, returning to Hill’s office. Exercising mind control over Halsey, Hill sends him out to kidnap Megan from Dan.
West and Dan track Halsey to the morgue where they find Hill’s body holding his head in a compromising position over a restrained Megan. West distracts Hill while Dan frees Megan. Hill reveals that he has re-animated and lobotomized several corpses from the morgue to do his bidding. However, Megan manages to get through to her father, who fights off the other corpses long enough for Dan and Megan to escape. In the ensuing chaos, Halsey is torn to pieces by the corpses after he destroys Hill’s head and West injects Hill’s body with what he believes is a lethal overdose of the reagent which began to destroy Hill’s body. Hill’s body mutates horribly and attacks West, who screams out to Dan to save his work as he continues fighting.
Dan retrieves the satchel containing West’s reagent. As Dan and Megan run from the morgue, one of the re-animated corpses attacks and kills Megan. Dan takes her to the hospital emergency room where we first saw Dan. He tries in vain to revive her. Finally in despair he injects her with reagent. Just after the scene fades to black, Megan screams as it implicates her re-animation backfires just like the previous re-animated
While watching Santa’s Slay the other day, I came across a trailer for Beyond Re-Animator, which is apparently the third film in this series. Being curious, I decided to check out the entire franchise, starting with Re-Animator.
I’ll be frank with you. I didn’t really know what to make of this film. On one hand, I liked the oddity of it, but on the other hand, it seemed a bit like a bad B-movie…even for something from the 80s.
Apparently, this film is based on a short story from the early 20s. If you look closely, you can sort of get the idea that it was written back then.
The story centers around a med student who wants to bring back the dead. In his mad quest to re-animate life, he inadvertently involves his new roommate and his fiancée, and creates enemies out of the dean and professor.
I’ve made statements in the past about horror movies that seem to be more about the suspense and not the gore, most recently, Prom Night, but this one is proof that a little bit of gore goes a long way. Of course, this was the 80s, when stuff like this wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. Damn those Saw movies!
The mixture of horror, camp, and comedy is what makes this film work. In a manner similar to The Toxic Avenger and that entire franchise (not counting the cartoon version, of course), this film seemed to have nothing worthwhile, but once you sit down and watch it, you find yourself hooked, and not really sure why. That is the mark of a good mixture of elements. I applaud those involved with writing this script. They did an excellent job of not making this into something that was too much of this or that.
Seeing as how this was made in 1985, one wouldn’t exect the best special effects, and so we don’t get anything spectacular. However, this is the 80s, so effects were done with actual make-up and not computers. The makeup artists outdid themselves with the corpses, that’s for sure.
Acting is not the strongest part of this flick, that’s for sure. These actors all sem like they were plucked right out of acting class.
In the end, I’m still not sure what I think about this film. I didn’t love it, but at the same time I think it was half way decent and far from sucking. There are plenty of things to be said on the pro and con side of this film. Still, this is not a bad flick and a decent time can be had watching it.
3 out of 5 stars