Re-Animator (1985) – movie review

Re-Animator - pic 1

Re-Animator (1985)

Directed by Stuart Gordon
Produced by Brian Yuznamy top 10 1980s horror

Starring:
Bruce Abbott
Jeffrey Combs
Barbara Crampton
David Gale
Robert Sampson

In the first 60 seconds of this film an old man’s bulging eyes explode splashing blood into a woman’s face. A few minutes later there’s a sex scene with Megan, (Babara Crompton) and Dan (Bruce Abbott). This is just the tip of the iceberg that makes up the insane world of Re-Animator. The circumstances, blood and guts, and over-the-top effects are reticent of the 1980s itself. The teaming of Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon on this film (and From Beyond) produce something so horribly vile and disgusting to the point you have to laugh; it is nothing less than Black Comedy.re-animator poster

The story is a far cry from the original Re-Animator tale penned by Lovecraft to where only the names, places and basic premise remain. Doctor Herbert West has a serum that when it’s injected into the brain stem, can bring people and animals back to life. He demonstrates on mutilated cat. First Megan’s father dies and they bring him back to life. He’s not the same. Then West uses the serum on University professor Dr. Hill. At first, Dr. Hill doesn’t believe the serum will work, but when Hill tries to take credit for the serum, West kills him. Once back to life and feeling indestructible, Hill decides to fulfill his fantasy with Dan’s fiance, Megan, and kidnaps her.

What hard-core gore scenes shall I talk about? I guess the most vile are the creepy old man (Hill) makes advances on the young college student scenes. Horrifying! Hill’s head, separated from his body puts some gnarly sex moves on a naked and restrained Megan.

Despite being in previous horror films, it was Comb’s role in Re-Animator that gained him notoriety as a campy horror actor and fan favorite. The music by Richard Band provided excellent accompaniment to the craziness of the film, especially in the tense pacing of the main theme which was heavily influenced by the main theme in Psycho. John Naulin handled the Special FX using 24 gallons of blood, 10 times more than he’d ever used on a film previously. Re-Animator has since become a cult favorite and spawned several sequels including Bride of Re-Animator.

And check out the other classic Gordon/Yuzna vile collaboration, From Beyond

A darkly funny Gordon/Yuzna gorefest that took Lovecraft ideas and mashed them with over-the-top 1980s, body horror excess!

I give it 4.1 headless corpses out of 5 on the Frankenstein scale of b-horror re-animated flesh flicks.

 

Re-Animator - pic 9

 

Gallery of gore and nudity:

 

From Beyond (1986) – Movie review

from beyond 1986 pic 21

From Beyond (1986)

Directed by Stuart Gordon
Produced by Brian Yuznamy top 10 1980s horror

Jeffrey Combs
Barbara Crampton
Ted Sorel
Ken Foree
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon

(***warning, explicit and graphic images and descriptions below)

Ever since Freddy Kruger uttered his first snarky line at his wincing victim, horror in the 1980’s was headed down a path to morbid humor. Few would take it as far as the Stuart Gordon directed, Brian Yuzna produced, re-imagining of the HP Lovecraft tale, From Beyond. This film is morbid black humor taken to the extremes of sadistic gore and horrific irony. While a majority of fans will pick Reanimator as their favorite Gordon/Yuzna collaboration, I like this one a little better, mostly because of the strange abstract creature that Dr. Pretorius becomes.from beyond 1986 poster

A machine invented by Dr. Pretorius and Dr. Crawford Tillinghast called The (Tillinghast) Resonator is believed to stimulate an unused gland within the human brain. The gland enables a person to see into a parallel dimension. The life forms in this parallel dimension have a penchant for human flesh and anyone who moves within the energy field of the machine is attacked.

Dr Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton), is the psychiatrist assigned to Crawford’s case. He has been in the mental institution since the death of Pretorius. When she brings Crawford to the lab to reconstruct the scene of the crime, they both discover that Pretorius is not dead, just transcended into the beyond. As Crawford and McMichaels become mesmerized under the machine’s influence, Pretorius returns to devour them both. A detective sent to guard them, played by Ken Foree, is eaten alive by the strange creatures. McMichaels acts out some repressed sexual desires, made evident by how her eyes linger on a video of Pretorius performing sadistic sex acts. Crawford’s pineal gland bursts out of the front of his forehead like an eel and demands for Crawford to find new sustenance. He attacks the head psychiatrist, sucks out her eyeball then devours her brain by sucking it out through her eye socket. Yeah, gross! But I can’t look away. I haven’t been this mesmerized by gore since a possessed woman stabbed a number two pencil into a woman’s Achilles tendon in Evil Dead! Crawford goes on to suck out more eyeballs and brains, I giant worm grows in the basement and McMichaels is turned-on by the vibrations of the resonator and goes full tilt S&M.

This gory grind-fest is not for the feint at heart, but if you like Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive, I think you will like this film. It’s absurd violence, a bizarre journey into gory blood-lust entertainment.

from beyond 1986 pic 22

Fun Facts:

The Lovecraft story that this film is adapted from is only 7 pages long.

The house where the lab is located and the experiments take place has an odd address, 666 Benevolent St.

At the mental hospital, automatic doors use the door opening sound from the original Star Trek series.

Here’s some alternate posters and dvd/blu-ray art:

from beyond 1986 alternate artwork

Hellraiser (1987) – movie review

Hellraiser pic 18

Hellraiser (1987) – 20th Anniversary Edition

Directed by: Clive Barker

Doug Bradleymy top 10 1980s horror
Andrew Robinson
Clare Higgins
Sean Chapman
Ashley Laurence
Nicholas Vince


Hellraiser was both shocking and terrifying when it hit theaters some twenty-seven years ago. I had watched this film on VHS dozens of times since its release and watched the many sequels dilute the impact of the Hellraiser franchise. I was curious to see if the original film still held its own over two decades later.

When first released, this movie felt like you were seeing something completely new, expanding on the imagination much like The Matrix did in the 90’s. Not bad for a considerably low-budget movie void of CGI or modern digi-fx techniques. Upon watching it for the first time in well over a Hellraiser posterdecade I noticed some aspects of the film look dated and reveal the films budget limitations. Electric sparks that are produced from the puzzle box and when the cenobites are dissolved seem layered on rather than in the setting. The wall-walker creature looks somewhat lifeless and rubbery. That being said, the aura and atmosphere of Hellraiser still portrays a dark netherworld of fantastical creatures and concepts.

Watching Uncle Frank regenerate himself from some kind of primordial green goop is a stunning FX sequence. Following that, Frank is a grotesque skinless biology study of exposed muscle, cartilage and sinew for most of the movie. Although difficult to look at for its goriness, I also find it hard not to stare at him with morbid curiosity.

The scene where Kirsty solves the puzzle box and we get our first real good look at the cenobites is truly bizarre. The lipless cenobite, Chatterer, restrains Kirsty by shoving two fingers into her mouth as the eyeless Butterball, watches with enthusiasm. The lone female cenobite speaks with seductive elegance that could be mistaken for an angel’s whisper. Doug Bradley as Pinhead commands the scene with few words but delivered with such a powerful voice it could make one cringe.

The scene where Frank, disguised as Kirtsy’s father, is being pulled apart by dozens of hooks stretching the skin of his face to its limit is disturbing. “Jesus Wept”, he says before exploding into a bloody pile of meat.

MSDHELL EC007One aspect that makes this movie so intriguing is that many little concepts make up the whole. We have the horror of Uncle Frank needing fresh flesh to regenerate himself – We have psycho step mom, Julia, dispatching would-be lovers with a hammer strike to the cranium – we have the cenobite and puzzle box concept – and we have the vagabond threaded throughout the movie, only to find, in the end, that he is actually a winged demon guarding his prime asset, the puzzle box.

This special edition comes with several interviews that bring us behind the scenes of the Hellraiser legend. One comical comment comes from Doug Bradley himself. He says he had the choice between playing the cenobite, Pinhead, or the bit part of a moving man helping to move a bed upstairs in the house. Because he was a striving actor he thought it may be better to actually see his face on the film and he had originally decided to take the bit part! Aren’t we glad he changed his mind? His performance is synonymous with Pinhead.

Much has happened since the release of Hellraiser. The notion of the cenobites became a cult mythos of its own, much the way H.P.Lovecraft stories sparked the Cthulhu mythos. Pinhead became a great icon in horror motion pictures taking his place in infinite stardom with the likes of Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers. But, Hellraiser offered even more. Behind the vile deeds, gore, guts, and grotesque sights lies a world of wonder, the unbridled awe of a nightmare world that exists within our darkest visions.

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