|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
With such a fascinating villain/anti-hero at the center of it, spurred by Jeffrey Combs' hilariously smug performance, one would think the Re-Animator franchise would have secured a place in the annals of ultra gory horror/comedy history alongside the Evil Dead trilogy. Combs' Herbert West is a fascinating character, so obsessed with bringing dead tissue back to life, that he would call Doctor Frankenstein a procrastinating wussy. Yet these films don't really know what to do with him, and how to utilize him beyond his creepy one-note development. The first Re-Animator is considered a horror-comedy classic mainly because of the envelope pushing gory comedy set-pieces. Otherwise, the script is pretty bland, with an overwrought and unnecessary romance sub-plot at the center of it.
In fact, the downfall of these films tends to be to let the narrative heavy lifting handled by a bland pretty boy side character (Bruce Abbott in the first two, Jason Barry in Beyond) who desires to bring his deceased true love back to life. This gets in the way of the wanton insanity of the main premise, which sees random dead body parts come to life thanks to a bright yellow reanimating agent (Fun fact: It's actually the liquid from glow sticks). For genre hounds, it's a blast to watch a severed head flying with bat wings, or in the case of this sequel, a man whose bottom half is severed coming after Herbert West for sweet revenge.
Director Stuart Gordon was smart with his editing choices in the first film, keeping the run time to a brief 80 minutes and focusing on the practical effect-heavy set pieces. Producer Brian Yuzna took over the directing duties for the two sequels, and those familiar with this B-movie master of grotesquerie tend to agree that he can be a bit too self-indulgent at times. The slower pace and the added ten minutes of runtime to Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator might not sound like much, but they add up.
Beyond takes place 13 years after Bride, with West in prison for the mayhem he caused at his hospital. He's of course not allowed pursue his experiments, but in comes Dr. Phillips (Jason Barry), an even blander placeholder for Dan Cain in the first two entries, and together they resume West's work. You know the rest, since Beyond is practically a sub-par remake of the first film, with a prison backdrop instead of a hospital; prisoners turn into zombies, Phillips tries to bring a woman he loves back to life, Random body parts turn into living beings, etc… As halfway confidently made Beyond is, it doesn't bring anything new to the table. Combs is great as always as West, but this time around the cast is far too weak to catch up. There are some inventive practical effects, but early 2000s cheap CGI rearing its ugly head is certainly not welcome.
Beyond Re-Animator's 1080p transfer is highly satisfactory. The film has a high contrast and very dark look, so the black levels have to be perfect, and they nearly are. There seems to have been some digital noise reduction, and some grain could have benefitted the exploitation feel of this release.
The DTS-HD 5.1 track is nowhere near as aggressive it should be, but that probably stems from the original sound mix. For fans of the Psycho ripoff main theme, it does play occasionally and takes over all channels for the true Re-Animator experience.
Beyond and Back: A 20-minute interview with the director.
Interview with Jeffrey Combs: This 20-minute interview shows Combs as a consummate professional.
Six Shots by Midnight: An HP Lovecraft expert gives insight into the writer.
Commentary by Brian Yuzna: This is a fun commentary by the schlockmeister, it will make his fans happy.
We also get an Isolated score track, a Still gallery, Two Trailers, a Music Video, and a Featurette that was produced at the time of the film's release.
Beyond Re-Animator is a fairly useless sequel. At least Bride attempted to ape the original Frankenstein series' trajectory and provided some new ideas. There's the premise of electrical power working together with the green liquid to bring dead people back to life with their consciousness intact, but not much is done with it.
P.S: Stick through the credits for the funniest scene in the movie, by far.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com