Retro Review: Re-Animator (1985)

Shudder proves useful ounce more and allows me to finally get around to watching Re-Animator. I see this movie posted, talked about, and cherished by horror fans all over social media. So I decided to sit back, relax, and give it a whirl.
The movie begins abruptly in Switzerland where you observe officers, and medical staff trying to gain access to a locked lab. The officers finally bust through to discover our main character Dr. West with a syringe in hand overtop of Dr. Gruber.

Gruber suddenly stands up screaming, his eyeballs swelling up till they pop and blood bursts everywhere. They quickly assume Dr. West killed him, Dr. West, replying with “No I did not, I gave him life”. The movie does a great job of showing us what we’re in for. Suddenly the intro drops with fantastic visuals and an even more satisfying score, that was stuck in my head for hours after the movie ended. Re-Animator is about Dr. Herbert West, a very weird but intelligent scientist played by Jeffrey Combs.

Who takes up a new residency with a medical institute in America after his former mentor passes. Dr. West soon meets his new classmate Dan Cain, a top of his class medical student played by Bruce Abbott. Dan ultimately finds out Dr. West is working on a chemical to re-animated the dead with a fun scene involving Dan’s cat Rufus. However let’s just say the chemical still has some bugs, some deadly bugs. It gives the re-animated incredible strength and aggression which leads to some wild moments.

Dr. West needs to experiment with the substance to find its imperfections. Except with no subjects at his disposal, Dan is pretty much persuaded into helping him. Dr. West definitely shows his intellect in doing so, it seems like anything he wants Dan to help him with he will. Preferably that or Dan doesn’t know how to say no. The unexpected thing about this movie is that it actually has a plot with multiple characters and story arcs.

Such as Megan Halsey and Dan’s relationship, that has speed bumps due to her father being Dean Halsey the head of the Institute. Dr. West having a rivalry with his teacher Dr. Hill, due to him plagiarizing his past mentors work. I feel like most horror movies develop some half-assed plot to simply get to the kills. However, with Re-Animator, they are working from a book which might have a part in it having a decent plot. Unsure though I’ve never read the book it based on.

Overall I can see why people love this movie it’s fun, it’s different, and you actually get invested in the story and characters. It has awesome yet campy practical effects and I feel the movie has its own style about it. I’ll definitely be adding it to my collection soon. Along with its sequels, I feel bad that I’m just now watching this classic but I’m glad I now have. Don’t forget if you want to check out or revisit Re-Animator it is available on Shudder. has a rating of 7.2
Personally, I’d give it an 8.0

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About Keith Saunders 18 Articles
I was born and raised in West Virginia (insert WV movie cliches here). Growing up life was boring back in the sticks. I had no friends nearby, and nothing to do. However, the living room was like a cinema library. All the DVDs, and VHS towering to the ceiling. So while my school friends were hanging out or playing games online together, I was at home studying, memorizing, and falling in love with movies. Around the age of five or six the earliest horror movie I remember watching was Evil Dead II: Death By Dawn, it was roughly recorded off TV on to VHS along with The Labyrinth and a few others that weren't rememberable. I just recall being blown away at what I was seeing, especially when Linda's head is tightened in the vice, and Ash slowly carves into her skull with his chainsaw. There my addiction began, so I started gathering up every horror movie I could find in the house. Finding titles like The Thing, The Stuff, Halloween and if we didn't have it, off to Blockbusters I went (Good lord I miss Blockbusters). After that I was hooked, horror became my first love of cinema and every other genre got back seat. My Top 5 Favorites of Horror Evil Dead II: Death By Dawn (1987) Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) Alien (1979) Creepshow (1982) Dead Alive (1992)