Monday, November 19, 2007


Most of you tuning into this blog should be well-familiar with the charms of RE-ANIMATOR, Stuart Gordon's raucous mix of gore n' guffaws from 1985 (and if you're not, why the hell are you here?). So instead of reviewing a film that just about everyone in my target audience has seen--a rather pointless exercise, anyway, since I can't find one bad thing to say about it--I'm going to do something a little different with today's entry and simply reminisce about one of my all-time favorites. (Oh, and for those of you who do read this and haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it; you'll love it.)

I first saw RE-ANIMATOR one lazy Sunday afternoon in early '91. I was a sophomore in high school then, and was just starting to catch up on all these great movies I was reading about in FANGORIA (horror flicks were taboo in my youth, at least anything that wasn't black-and-white, so I was eager to see what I'd been missing). My enabler was a young man named Kevin, who I'd met at church of all places, and he suffered through my viewing habits with a pleasant if not bemused humor.

(It just occurred to me as I write this that since the advent of the VCR it's rather difficult to tell an amusing anecdote about watching a film. Tales of drive-in frivolity or grindhouse adventures tend to overshadow "We sat on Kevin's couch and ate pizza" . . . though I must say watching with your Sunday School teacher as a severed head goes down on a naked girl was a rather memorable experience.)

Needless to say I enjoyed the film immensely, though I don't see how I couldn't have; at fifteen, my desired quota of blood and female nudity was easily met, so RE-ANIMATOR being a flat-out great movie was simply gravy. I do remember being quite enthusiastic about it for several days afterward, endlessly quoting the movie's best lines--"Who's going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow." was a particular fave--and telling anyone within earshot to SEE THIS MOVIE. (I may have even been on the obnoxious side doing it; Jim, you probably remember, was I?) Even now I get a distinct thrill springing this film onto friends, especially those not into horror flicks, who haven't seen it.

As I matured (so to speak) I was able to see what made RE-ANIMATOR work as well as it did. Starting with a story by H.P. Lovecraft doesn't hurt, but the filmmakers' smartest tactic was to treat the source material seriously, while still having fun with it. The uniformly excellent cast--including Jeffrey Combs in one of contemporary horror's best roles and the late David Gale as Dr. Hill--treats the subject matter with equal respect, taking a story that sounds hokey on paper and making it believable and three-dimensional.

RE-ANIMATOR remains in my top three favorite movies (when asked, I can never name just one, but I almost always drop this one), cinematic comfort food when I'm feeling down, and the perfect antidote to the deluge of shitty remakes Hollywood keeps foisting on us. Love, love love, this movie.

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