A Review of ‘Re-Animator’ (1985)

[This review may contain spoilers]


Movie poster for “Re-Animator” (photo courtesy of IMDB).

Julia Alvarado, Freelance Writer

The ‘80s were a truly spectacular time for the horror genre. There were the classics, of course, well known horror movies like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), “The Lost Boys” (1987), “Predator” (1987), and “Hellraiser” (1987). But with well known works, there will always come the niche cult classics that range from bizarre to ridiculous, and “Re-Animator” falls somewhere in the middle.

This 1985 movie–loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s 1922 horror short story, “Herbert West-Reanimator”–was directed by the late Stuart Gordan, and starred Jeffery Combs as Herbert West, Bruce Abbott as Dan Cain, and Barbara Crampton as Megan Halsey. Though the movie saw profit upon its release in theatres and was well received by critics, its greatest commercial success came when it was released on home video, where it became an instant cult classic.

The moniker is a truly flattering one in the realm of horror. One of the most well known cult classics is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, which flopped brutally upon its release, but after years of midnight screenings full of excited costumed viewers and passionate live fan-casts, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has earned over $170 million at the box office, and is the longest continually running movie release of all time. Maybe it’s the gory special effects, the “Psycho” (1960) inspired soundtrack, or the pitch black comedy, but although “Re-Animator” never reached the same iconic status as “Rocky Horror,” it’s generated and maintained a loyal fanbase over the years, and is incredibly well loved by those lucky enough to have seen it.

The movie follows medical student Dan Cain, his fiance Megan Halsey, and Cain’s fellow student and new roommate, Herbert West, who is obsessed with the idea of reanimating the dead. When West convinces Dan to assist in his experiments, they find themselves in various frightening and dangerous predicaments, most pressing, their professor, Dr. Hill (David Gale), and his investigation into the chaos they’ve brought to Miskatonic University.

Despite its ‘80s cheesiness and occasionally excessive gore, “Re-Animator” is darkly hilarious and an instant favorite among those willing to play along with its ridiculousness. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and an easy 5/5 paws.