Thursday, October 09, 2008

Overlooked Movies: Re-Animator

"The Lovecraft purists are always very upset with me because I'm always throwing all of this nudity into these movies, and there is no nudity in Lovecraft. But my argument is that there is a tremendous sexuality about Lovecraft, and a fear of sex, taking the reproductive act and turning it into something monstrous. Although he doesn't get explicit with it, he'll refer to it constantly in his stories. And in a movie, you have to use images to show things." ~Director Stuart Gordon

In this Lovecraftian tale, Herbert West is a scientist who has discovered a fluid which brings dead tissue back to life. After the suspicious death of his professor in Switzerland, West moves to Miskatonic University to continue his research. He involves fellow student Dan Cain and his fiancée Megan Halsey in his research by experimenting on their dead cat. Dan, fascinated by West's research, agrees to smuggle him into the hospital morgue with predictable results.

H.P. Lovecraft's classic tale of horror
Death Is Just The Beginning...
Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders... And Another One In A Dish On His Desk
It will scare you to pieces.

Fun Trivia:
The idea to make Re-Animator came from a discussion Stuart Gordon had with friends one night about vampire movies. He felt that there were too many Dracula movies and expressed a desire to see a Frankenstein movie. Someone asked if he had read Herbert West: Re-Animator by H.P. Lovecraft. Gordon had read most of the author's works but that book had been out of print. He went to the Chicago Public Library and read their copy. Originally he intended to be faithful to H.P. Lovecraft's story, but the film ultimately has little in common with the story. It's turn of the century scenery was too expensive to recreate so they modernized the story.

First envisioned as 13 half-hour episodes to be sold into syndication or cable TV until special effects wizard Bob Greenberg repeatedly told Gordon that the only market for horror was in feature films and introduced him to producer Brian Yuzna. The rest was history.

John Naulin worked on the film's gruesome makeup effects and worked from what he described as disgusting shots brought out from the Cook County morgue of all kinds of different lividities and different corpses".He and Gordon also used a book of forensic pathology in order to present how a corpse looks once the blood settles in the body creating a variety of odd skin tones. Naulin said that Re-Animator was the bloodiest film he had ever worked on. In the past, he never used more than two gallons of fake blood on a film. On Re-Animator, he used 24 gallons of blood.

Re-Animator was released on October 18, 1985 in 129 theaters and grossed USD $543,728 on its opening weekend. It went on to make $2 million in North America, well above its $900,000 budget.

The first man who is re-animated at the morgue (who goes on to kill the dean) is Arnold Schwarzenegger's body double.

The "brains" in the severed head were made up of steer meat by-products, ground beef and fake blood and when they shot the scene in the autopsy room with the severed head being thrown out the door and then smashing onto the hallway wall, the crew were all behind the cameras with garbage bags over their clothes because no one knew just how much the brains would splatter.

The school Herbert West attends Miskatonic University, "Go Fighting Pods".

The R-rated version is 8 minutes longer than the unrated version, because of added dialog. The unrated version kept all the gore, as well as, the perverse sex scene.

Fun Quotes:
Dan Cain: What if we get caught?
Herbert West: What'll they do? Embalm us?

Herbert West: Don't expect it to tango; it has a broken back.

Herbert West: I must say, Dr. Hill, I'm VERY disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed coed. You're not even a second-rate scientist!

Dan Cain: He's dead?
Herbert West: Not anymore.


Dash MacBastard said...

One of my all time favorites! Herbert West is a nerd's Ashley J. Williams.

PIPER said...

I love this film and yet I haven't watched it for a long time. Maybe I'm holding off for when my son comes of age and he can watch it with his old man and discover what a freak I am.

The unrated version has Dr. Hill shooting very large intestines from his body and grabbing West right at the end. Is that right? Or is that also in the 'R' rated version.

Anyway, that scene always disturbed me. It felt very much like a Cronenberg film because he always has terrible discoveries in the last few minutes of his films.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I love this movie.

Becca said...

Yes! I could see that! Now I want to see Ash and West in a movie together! That would be superb!

What a great coming of age moment it would be! I used to watch Star Trek with my dad and it really did effect me. These are the kinds of things we need to share with the kids if we want them to be cool :)

And I've only seen the unrated but the intestine scene was intense! This movie has some of the greatest gore scenes!

Dr. Monkey-
It's just about perfect in every way!

Neil Sarver said...

I know I saw the "R" rated version at least once, although I can't say I'm sure how... I know my regular video store had the unrated version. I can't remember much specific about what wasn't in it. I only remember the fact of the Dr. Hill's hypnotic superpower being clear and fleshed out... Doesn't that get more play in Bride of Re-Animator, too?

One way or the other, it's a brialliant movie! I love it all kinds of ways.

Keith said...

I absolutely love this movie. I never tire of it.

Anonymous said...

An excellent documentary

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