The Essentials- #102
I first heard about "Re-Animator" ten years ago. I never was fan of the BRAVO station, as most of the shows on that channel don't really identify with me. But the one program I always enjoyed watching was the 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Its a slew of programming that was totally non-BRAVO, but I was so glad that they did it anyway. One of the movies featured on the original list was a movie called "Re-Animator." This movie caught my attention because of a particular scene, something I have never seen attempted in a horror movie before. A scene that has never been attempted in film period, at least to my knowledge. Something that has never been duplicated in the years passed, and I pray to God that this never gets remade. I don't see how it would though, I am not sure how big of hit "Re-Animator" was, but that one scene was enough to make sure you never forgot it.
What is "Re-Animator?" Its a classic mad scientist movie. Something that is kind of in the vein of "Frankenstein," except its plenty more demented. It revolves around Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), a professor who is fired and banned from his college after being accused of killing one of his colleagues. He did not kill the colleague though, he was using his dead body to conduct an experiment. An experiment that would bring his friend back to life. He moves to New England, and enrolls in a school in the area to further his medical career. He rents a room at a nearby apartment and turns the basement into his personal laboratory. He does not plant to just further his medical career, he plans to reopen the experiment that went wrong at his last place of employment. He is working on serum that will bring people back to life after they die, and he is trying to weed out the kinks in the serum, because of course there are side effects.
What follows is one wild horror movie that is sometimes funny, sometimes gruesome, and even sometimes scary. The clever music by Richard Band is instantly iconic and draws you right into the movie. I don't know much about Jeffrey Combs outside of this movie, but you can take my word for it when I say he acts the shit out of his role. Combs is ultra freaky in a groovy kind of way. There are moments where he'll get you to snicker and there are just as many moments where he will flat-out creep you out. Its a masterful performance as far as horror films go, and I think Combs makes sure it matters more than he had to.
Then there's the scene.
If you've seen the BRAVO program, you probably know what I am talking about. If you've seen the movie, you will never forget it. Its a scene that has never been tried ever again, and honestly how could anybody even come close to improving upon it? As I sat there watching the scene, I didn't know whether or not I should laugh or if I should be scared. The scene kind of goes for the bigger laugh, but at the same time there is a genuine creepiness laced into the scene that I found unforgettable. I couldn't believe that someone decided to make up such a scene, because I am having a hard time thinking H.P. Lovecraft thought up the scene in his short story that the movie is based on. Then again, Lovecraft was one of Stephen King's biggest inspirations, so never say never. If you are still puzzled, I am not going to ruin anything here, you can type Re-Animator into your search engine and you'll find it right away.
Watching something like "Re-Animator" shows how trite the horror landscape is nowadays. This was a horror movie that loved its material, that really tried to be passionate about its upbringing. It was a movie that wasn't afraid to take risks, something I thing is gravely missed in horror today and that fact breaks my heart. I hope we haven't seen the last of horror movies that work like this, and I got plenty more to look at this October season.