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Introduction
I felt ashamed.  I felt dirty.  I felt excited, too.  I felt all these things after I watched Re-Animator for the first time a little over a year ago.  I was ashamed that, as a horror fan, it had taken me so long to get my paws on this title.  I felt dirty because… Well, if you have ever watched the film, you know.  I felt excited, though, because I felt what everyone who watches this movie and enjoys it for what it is must feel.  I was convinced that I had made a dazzling discovery.  Little me had come across a dusty VHS tape in the back of the local video store, a tape that had been lost for a decade.  Now, I could revive a classic and become the king of horror.  Of course, the movie has been a cult classic since the minute it was released and, now, every horror fan has the chance to own this movie in its most excellent form.

Dear Lord... I've done it again!
Movie
The astute viewer will immediately pick up on the tone of Re-Animator.  The introduction (added to the film at the last minute before its release) is a glimpse of the over-the-top nature of the entire production.  If one were to be frightened by this intro, he or she will be comforted by the playful cheer of the opening title music.  The score was heavily inspired by the famous Psycho score, a classic by Bernard Herrmann.

The movie, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West: Re-Animator”, follows a simple plot.  Herbert West (played to precise pitch perfection by Jeffrey Combs who, like Bruce Campbell, is a B-Movie legend) is new at Miskatonic Medical University.  Immediately, Herbert clashes with Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) on the subject of “brain death”.

At the same time, Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) is looking for a roommate.  He is also dating Dean Alan Halsey’s (Robert Sampson) daughter, Megan (Barbara Crampton).  When Herbert West shows up at Dan’s door one night during a “study” session, Megan is immediately suspicious.  Why is Herbert so anxious to move in?  Why is he so interested in the basement?

It is not long before the cat is dead, re-animated and dead again.  The early scenes of violence are disturbing and hilarious at the same time and are only a taste of what is to come.  Dan tries to resist the temptation of power inherent in the re-animating fluid, but is sucked into Herbert’s mad world of life giving.
 
There is a turn of events about halfway through the film (which I would be crazy to spoil) that almost screams to the viewer, “We aren’t playing by the rules here.”  The storyline twists its way to the famous conclusion that, if you haven’t heard of it, will leave you breathless.  Even if you know what is going to happen, when you finally see it, in all of it's gory, sexual glory you understand why this classic has achieved such a status.  The finale of the film is twisted in so many ways it’s impossible to count.

Obviously, I loved the movie.  Having never been anything but a horror fan, I cannot say it will suit everyones' tastes.  The film is so over-the-top that the outrageous gore becomes less and less shocking.  The timid viewer may want to shy away from this masterpiece.  Anyone with even the slightest curiosity should seek this movie out.

Video
The presentation of Re-Animator has never been better.  The transfer here is THX certified and it shows.  It comes in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.  There are a few scenes where the picture quality is less impressive than others, but this is due solely to production values and cheap film stock rather than the transfer.  The colors and contrast are infinitely better than any VHS copy of this film.  I saw no noticeable edge enhancement and found the quality to be absolutely the best possible for this movie.  Re-Animator never has and never will look better!

It will hurt because it GLOWS!
Audio
Included on this disc is both a DTS track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.  While the DTS sends more to the bass and, overall, has a richer sound, both preserve the original sound effects.  What this means is, most all the sound effects are mono and the rear channels are used almost exclusively to enrich the music.  In fact, there is even a Dolby Digital 5.1 music only track.  I found both full sound mix tracks very, very good.  As stated before, instead of creating new sound effects that, in most cases, would not fit accordingly, the original effects are preserved and used well.

Extras
Where to begin?!  This is a Re-Animator fan’s dream!  I’m going to start with what is usually one of my favorite special features: the audio commentaries.  First, we have a commentary from the first time director Stuart Gordon. Gordon sounds very sophisticated (he has a theater background) and provides the viewer with much information.  Secondly, we have a group commentary that includes: Jeffery Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, Robert Sampson and producer Brian Yuzna.  This group’s commentary is a joy to listen to as they recall how they became involved with the project, the behind the scenes goodies, and reactions their friends and family (and audiences worldwide) had upon the movie’s release.  This commentary is the reason why they make commentaries.  There is much to be learned and it’s extremely fun to listen to.  It truly is one of the best I have heard.

There is no need to explain each and every extended scene on this disc.  It is better to say just this: most of these scenes were trimmed because they either were too becoming too wordy or began to focus on a subplot that was ultimately cut from the film.  The subplot involved Dr. Hill being able to hypnotize others.  It was interesting to see these scenes once, but it was wise to leave these pieces on the cutting room floor.  The deleted scene involves a dream sequence that does everything but spell the ending out way too early in the film.  Foreshadowing is fine, but this scene, while appealing, gives too much away.

Next, we have four interviews.  The first is an approximately 50 minute “interview” with director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna.  This is a feature for fans only.  Gordon and Yuzna basically interview each other and reminisce about the production from start to finish.  There is information here that can be found in either commentary, there is some information that is useless as we know nothing about the persons to whom they are referring, and there is some information that is genuinely interesting.  Again, for fans only.  Secondly, we have a short ten-minute interview with the writer, Dennis Paoli.  Listening to the man, who appears to be a sophisticated individual, it is hilarious to think about the things that came out of his head and appeared in the film.  There is good information about the relationship between the movie script and the short story by H.P. Lovecraft.  Next is another short interview with the composer, Richard Band.  The first thing this man settles is that yes, he knows parts of his score rip off the Psycho theme.  Band tries to convince anyone watching that his score was homage and intended to set the mood for the film by almost satirizing a score that is associated with a horror classic.  Band’s interview is surprising interesting and worth a watch.  Lastly, there is an interview with “Fangoria” editor Tony Timpone.  Timpone basically discusses the impact of the film and does so quickly and efficiently.  Check it out once.

A very cool feature for the fan, like myself, who enjoys movie scores, is a segment with Richard Band in which he walks the viewer through the musical themes of the movie.  There is a brief introduction of 4 different scenes in the movie each with their own themes.  The scenes are played with music only.  Very interesting, indeed.

There is a generic storyboard to finished scene comparison section.  I found it almost useless as there was no way to view both the storyboard and the final scene at the same time.  Still, if you love using that angle button on your remote, this will give it a work out.

Rounding out this solid disc are the standards.  There is the theatrical trailer, five TV spots, cast/crew bios and a production photo gallery.

Disc 1 Menu
Overall
This is where I tell you whether you should seek out this DVD out or not.  If you’ve made it this far, it’s painfully obvious that you should have stopped reading by now and gone down to the local DVD shop and purchased this fantastic set.   Re-Animator is a benchmark in horror cinema.  It basically proved what horror fans have known for many, many years: It is possible to go completely over the top, scare the audience while they laugh and drench them with blood and STILL be successful.  This film has achieved a status never intended by those who created it.  It is well deserving, though.  Finally, we have here a DVD that is worthy of the film that is burned into it.  Great movie, picture, sound and extras make this a no-brainer for anyone even halfway interested.


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