FearTASTIC Vault O’ Fun (11/17/13)
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writer(s): H.P. Lovecraft (story), Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon
Starring: Jeffery Combs, Bruce Abbot, Barbara Crampton, David Gale
Jeffery (MotherF*ckin’) Combs.
For all my horror geeks out there, I implore you to think of any horror flick in the last 30 years or so that you enjoy and you can most likely trace it back to Jeffery Combs in 5 degrees or less (take that Bacon!). I remember as a kid, knee-deep in my horror movie addiction, I began to see the same actor pop up in several movies. It was the same charismatic, intense character actor that always had a creepy vibe to him, even if he was playing the straight man in the midst of all the scary chaos. Sure, you can pin point this to over-acting but there’s a passion to the performance that borders on campy that accentuated any horror flick. It was genuine, not ironic the way this guy teetered between brilliant and corny which always made every horror movie he was involved in that much more special.
In my younger years, I remember my criteria for choosing most horror movies by the simple criteria of the VHS cover. It’s like what some winos tell amateurs when they’re first starting out in the process of pickling their liver with wine; just choose the best looking label and it should be alright. The more interesting the cover, the more likely I would snatch up the flick at my local video store. I remember perusing the horror movie section and seeing the synopsis of the movie fully explained in one glorious cover; a scientist injecting a severed head with a neon-green serum as the head’s body looms behind the scientist ready to attack (see poster above). By picking up this video, a quirky and brilliant actor named Jeffery Combs was about to enter my childhood and earn my loyalty as a fan for life in his best work, Re-animator.
As the poster indicated, the flick starts off with a fantastic scene as Dr. Herbert West (Jeffery MotherF*ckin’ Combs) brings a corpse back to life with his serum. Of course, it still has its kinks, primarily with the revived corpses trying to kill everything in the room (slight setback). We find Dr. West in another hospital after the incident from the beginning of the flick where he rents a room from a fellow doctor, Dan Cain (straight man Bruce Abbot) whose FOXY girlfriend, Megan (Barabra Crampton) suspects Dr. West is up to no good. Of course she was correct, as Herbert begins to experiment with corpses from the morgue and even pets, which I assure you cat lovers, you will ENJOY. Dr. Cain stays on board because it’s established earlier on that he has SUCH a hard time watching his patients die. If only he had a pal…maybe a roommate…who had a serum…to keep people…from dying?
The official A-hole of the movie (there’s always one) comes in the form of a rival Dr. Carl Hill (played fantastically by David Gale) who thinks Herbert West’s theories are poppy-cock, until of course his head is severed and is revived by West’s formula only to become a sort of undead villain whose much more intelligent than his revived predecessors and proceeds to steal West’s formula to grow his undead army…oh yeah, and he also steals the girl. Did I also mention Dr. Hill had a creepy crush on Megan? What follows is the most disturbing scene in the movie where Dr. Hill decided he’s “hungry” for some Megan (classic yet disturbing). Dr. West and Dr. Cain have no choice but to face Dr. Hill and stop his maniacal plan of unleashing the formula onto the world…oh yeah, and save the girl.
A mix of a zombie flick with your classic Frankenstein story, The Re-animator is considered to be a cult classic with its mix of gore, suspense and even some humor. There have been sequels and even a musical dedicated to this masterpiece so that should give you an idea of the impact this movie had in horror movie culture. This is the kind of flick I recommend to anyone who can appreciate a horror movie that’s not just looking for scares, but appreciate the entertainment factor of what a horror movie can bring. Most importantly, watch it for Jeffery Combs, oh I apologize, I meant Jeffery MotherF*ckin’ Combs.