When I first watched the Evil Dead, I hated it. The horrific deaths, the campy acting and the flimsy plot made me shut it off before I got to the end. But I gave it another chance, thanks to some passionate film buffs both online and in my real life. I read so many pieces trying to convince me that it is actually a worthwhile piece of cinema once you get yourself in the frame of mind, that I decided to give it a second chance. I liked it because I realized that you have treat certain films a different way. Instead of thinking that this film is going to make me think about life’s mysteries like a Bergman or Fellini film would, I needed to just sit back and revel in the product itself. Let myself become consumed by the world the film produces and enjoy the film for being a film. That is what I did with Evil Dead the second time around and that is what I did with Re-Animator. I am glad I did.
The world of Re-Animator may seem like a normal one (like the beginning of the Evil Dead), but it soon gets twisted and turned on its head (ha!). A young medical (Dan Cain) student becomes the roommate of a strange new medical student just off the boat (metaphorically) from Switzerland (Herbert West). Mr. West has a deep dark secret… He can reanimate dead flesh. And boy does he. He reanimates dead cats, dead corpses, dead deans, and finally dead doctors who want to steal his secret away from them. But in order to accomplish this many reanimations, he sucks in Mr. Cain who decides to help him out of mere curiosity. Of course this curiosity becomes fatal.
I have to talk for a second about the special effects. I just want to say that the green goo that Dr. West inserts into dead people in order to make them come alive is inspired. Who ever thought of that should have a gold medal. The goo is an invisible protagonist, always there and always the source of the trouble without ever having one line of dialogue. This goo is strict contrast to the various kinds and copious amounts of blood present in the film. In the trivia section of IMDb, it says that the production team uses 25 buckets of fake blood throughout the film. I can believe it. Blood is everywhere. Pouring out of the zombies’ mouths, splattered among the various fights, and used to keep the severed head alive. The severed head brings up another thing. There was no CGI present in this film and I am grateful for that. Practical special effects are way more impressive than any computer generated monstrosity. You see human ingenuity at work and it is great. Impediments is what leads to great art, at least that is what I have always believed. If CGI was as available back then as it was today, there would be no doubt in my mind that the film would have been lack luster. Real models, real make-up and real camera trickery is what makes this film great.
Re-Animator is a fun cult classic that actually happens to be well made. Not only did I see an engaging plot line, but I also saw tons of blood, guts, and boobs. I indulged my camp side while not having to completely turn off my brain. All and all I had a good time. Plus there was boobs….