I would have to rate RE-ANIMATOR ($30) as my favorite black comic horror gross-out fest. Okay, so that description is quite a mouthful, so let me say thisÖ RE-ANIMATOR is one of the best horror movies of the 1980s that fully deserves its reputation as a cult classic. Based upon a story by H.P. Lovecraft, RE-ANIMATOR tells of an ambitious medical school student named Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), who has something of a Frankenstein complex. West is an arrogant young man wants to make the greatest medical breakthrough of them all, by bringing the dead back to life. West's experiments with a life restoring elixir do meet with some form of success, but the results are less than pretty.
After having been forced to leave a prestigious medical institution in Europe, West transfers to a stateside school, where he butts head with a doctor whose arrogance matches his own. Of course, when the good finally looses his head after one head butt too many, West sees it as an opportunity reanimate two for the price of one. Unfortunately, the newly resurrected doctor isn't in the best of moods, but he does manage to give a pretty young co-ed some head, just before raising an army of undead minions. The cast of RE-ANIMATOR also features Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson and Gerry Black.
Elite Entertainment has reissued RE-ANIMATOR as a THX Certified Millennium Edition, which presents the film at roughly 1.85:1 and the presentation has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. This transfer is a marked improvement over the first DVD release, which was taken from Elite's old Laserdisc master. The image doesn't have the snap or resolution of a big budget movie, but this little independent horror movie looks far better here than it has in any home presentation.
Although slightly soft, the picture is very, very pleasing, insomuch that one is able to see everything there is to see, without the image being marred by any kind of anomalies. Colors are stronger on this presentation, than they were in the past and they appear far more stable. Can't say the flesh tones always look natural, but at least they are appealing on the living characters. Blacks are accurately rendered and the contrast is fairly smooth. Shadow detail is okay, with the darker sequences appearing intentionally murky. The film element used for the transfer displays some very minor blemishes, and a sometimes-noticeable grain structure. Dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts well submerged.
In terms of audio, the folks at Elite have pulled out all the stops- upgrading RE-ANIMATOR from monaural to 5.1 channel varieties of Dolby Digital and DTS. They say you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but the newly remixed tracks do a great job of breathing life into these low budget recordings. The forward soundstage is pretty engaging, while the surround channels are used sparingly, but effectively. The new mix opens up the sound, which is somewhat constricted in the original monaural mix (also included as an option for purists). Richard Band's music sounds better here than it did in the past, one can certainly appreciate his PSYCHO inspired main title music, now more than ever. Even the bottom end of the track has a bit more oomph, although anyone looking for some ground shaking bass had better try a different DVD.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís tongue-in-cheek, creepy interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features, which have been spread across the two DVDs of the Elite release. Some of the extra materials present on the DVD were culled from the Laserdisc release of RE-ANIMATOR, including the two running audio commentary tracks. The first commentary features director Stuart Gordon, while the second is with producer Brian Yuzna, as well as cast members Combs, Abbott, Crampton and Sampson. Both tracks have their merits, the first covers the technical aspects, while the second is just goofy good fun with the participants kicking back and reminiscing about the production of the movie. Also featured on disc one is Richard Band's musical score in an isolated 5.1 mix.
Disc two features sixteen extended scenes, as well as the deleted dream sequence. New video interviews with director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna (49 minutes), as well as writer Dennis Paoli (10 minutes), composer Richard Band (14 minutes) and Fangoria editor Tony Timpone (4 minutes) are also provided on disc two. Composer Richard Band is also on hand to discuss his musical approach to four separate sequences in the film. A theatrical trailer, five TV spots, a multi-angle storyboard comparison, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery and cast & crew biographies/filmographies close out disc two's supplements.
RE-ANIMATOR is a genuine gem that richly deserves its cult horror movie status. Elite Entertainment's Millennium Edition of RE-ANIMATOR really does justice to the film, offering fans the finest presentation they are likely to see this side of high definition. Additionally, the DVD offers a terrific supplemental section, making this a must have disc for fans.
reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied
or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.