Blu-ray Review: Re-Animator (Limited Edition)

Imagine if you will, life before home video. A time before even Beta tapes did exist. Can you imagine a time before cable with HBO? This was a time when you only had pretty much one place to see an R-rated horror film uncut: the movie theater. You weren’t going to see a gore fest as ABC’s Sunday Night Movie. You had to hope you had a theater nearby that would not only run the R-rated film, but bring it back years later for a festival weekend. This meant you had to live in an area where a theater could count on a few hundred people showing up to make the theater stay in business. Otherwise you were stuck merely reading reviews about the film and getting glimpses of frames through production stills. Home video changed it up. Even if you were stuck in a town of uptight theater owners, you could always badger the local mom and pop videostore into buying a rental copy. As long as there were 50 or so like minds in the area, it was profitable to stock R and unrated horror movies on the shelf. Re-Animator was one of the early films to truly take advantage of home video revolution.

Re-Animator was one of those horror titles that your cool friend would rave about seeing. “You can’t believe the extremely gross scenes!,” they’d rave. And at one point, you couldn’t believe it because you would never get to see it. But thankfully in the mid-80s, you could run down to Videorama and find the VHS hidden on a top shelf away from little hands. You were no longer at the mercy of wishing you lived somewhere cooler. No longer were you being teased. You could rent and behold the glory. Now you no longer have to rent a low resolution VHS tape. Re-Animator: Limited Edition brings the movie and more to Blu-ray. This is gorier than you remember.

Herbert West (The 4400‘s Jeffrey Combs) has arrived at Miskatonic University’s teaching hospital after a rather extreme mess up at his Swiss school. He’s got certain ideas about life after death that doesn’t follow the teaching of Dr. Carl Hill (The Guyver‘s David Gale). The two clash quick, but the instructor is used to dumb plucky students. West needs a place to stay so he moves in with fellow med student Daniel Cain (Bad Dreams‘ Bruce Abbott). Even though his girlfriend Megan (Beyond the Gates‘ Barbara Crampton) gets quickly creeped out by West, Dean needs to split that rent money. It’s tough to become a doctor if you remember Scrubs. Very quickly Dean does learn about the green glowing goo that West keeps in his mini-fridge. He has proven that injecting a fresh corpse with the goo will bring them back to life. The act of pushing the bounds of science is too much for Cain and he sneaks into the morgue with West to experiment. This naturally leads to some ugliness since the re-animated aren’t quit in their old form. How long will the dead let them play God?

Re-Animator was extremely gross in 1985 with the mutilated bodies in the morgue coming alive. The great news is that over three decades over, they’re still stomach churning. The film pushed gruesome boundaries with organs and goo. There are two different cuts of the film. First is the original unrated theatrical release. This was the one the cool videostores put on the shelf instead of the R-rated cut VHS tape. Oddly enough, the R-rated version is longer since after slicing the extreme moments, they put in extra scenes. The second version in the boxset is the Integral cut which incorporates the cut material with the R-rated longer cut and even more. The unrated cut is 86 minutes while the Integral cut is 104 minutes. You’re better off with the longer cut so you can savor the sight of a talking head that was recently spoofed on Rick and Morty. Director Stuart Gordon made a horror masterpiece that was a must rental with Evil Dead and Basket Case. Re-Animator: Limited Edition is a proper tribute to a film that exceeded expectations when it arrived at the videostore in the mid-80s.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfers on both versions of the film is light years better than the VHS. Those with a weak stomach will be grossed out by the special effects. These are still disgusting in the post-Walking Dead universe. The audio is the original mono in a LPCM 1.0 and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA that spreads out the score and creepy bumps around the room. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentaries include one with Stuart Gordon, a second with cast and crew and a third with Gordon, Graham Skipper and Jesse Merlin. The three commentaries cover almost every aspect of the movie. No body is left dead.

Book that contains the comic book that also came out.

Re-Animator: Reurrectus (68:36) is covers how the project came together. The cast and crew talk about going extreme in the graphic elements and the line between gross and funny. There’s plenty of behind the scenes photos to illustrate the stories told from the set.

Interviews include talks with director Stuart Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna, writer Dennis Paioli, composer Richard Band and Fangori editor Tony Timpone.

Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band (16:31) takes us into a studio to have the soundtrack broken down. It’s a minor master class.

Barbara Crampton in Conversation (36:05) was recorded at Frightfest in 2015. She grew up in carnivals. She discusses her life before and after Re-Animator.

The Catastrophe of Success (13:08) has Stuart Gordon discuss the Organic Theater in Chicago. He once was arrested for a version of Peter Pan that the cops thought was obscene. He speaks about the disaster of the time they took a play to Broadway and how he rebounded. He worked a lot with David Mamet.

Theater of Blood (12:04) is Mark Nutter talking about turning the film into a stage musical.

Extended Scenes (23:05) are moments that got refined in the final cut. nothing

Deleted Scenes (2:40) has a morgue moment with Cain, West and the Dean to prove the serum works.

Multi-Angle Storyboards is three scenes where you can watch in motion and storyboards.

Trailer (1:57) promises science horror with gross moments. There’s also a few jokes from the narrator to tip off the humor.

TV Spots (2:36) are 5 commercials that wanted to warn audiences.

Still Gallery are production stills and promotional art.

A Guide to Lovecraftian Cinema (54:02) is an Chris Lackey who hosts a H.P. Lovecraft podcast. Is a fine guide to various films that adapted Lovecraft. Lackey knows his cinema and gives plenty of details starting with Roger Corman and Vincent Price’s The Haunted Palace. They pulls clips from trailers to make it more than a talking head.

Doug Bradley’s Spinechillers – Herbert West Reanimator (98:32) is an audio reading of the story.

Arrow Video presents Re-Animator: Limited Edition. Directed by: Stuart Gordon. Screenplay by: Dennis Paoli, William Norris & Stuart Gordon . Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton. Running Time: 104 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: August 8, 2017.

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