Home Featured Rewind: Herbert West: Re-Animator
Rewind: Herbert West: Re-Animator

Rewind: Herbert West: Re-Animator


1985’s Re-Animator is pretty great. It’s a zombie film based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West: Re-Animator, the tale of a doctor’s quest to conquer death along with his accomplice who just wishes to do good.

The film is considered a cult classic due in no small part to the terrific performance of Jeffrey Combs as the titular Re-Animator, Herbert West. This is in no way an indictment of the other performances, all of which are solid, Combs just steals the show.

The story follows Herbert as he arrives at Miskatonic University (a medical school for the sake of this film) while working on his formula which brings back the dead, though with inconsistent, often violent results. He enlists the help of Dan Cain in re-animating his cat. Cain had answered his call for a roommate, much to the dismay of his girlfriend/fiancé (and classmate?) Megan.

Dan, so excited by the implications of West’s research tells the College Dean, who just so happens to be his fiancé’s father. He immediately expels West and threatens Cain. This doesn’t deter Cain from sneaking West into the morgue however to test his reagent on a human body.

This is the point where things really take off as their reanimated corpse erupts into a rage and murders the Dean who arrives enraged at Cain and West. Cain naturally terrified by the ordeal is then convinced that re-animating the Dean is the best option as it’s a fresh sample, one that hasn’t had the time to suffer any brain degeneration.

There’s some credence to his thinking though! Dean Halsey isn’t as violent but far from intelligent after the ordeal either. Doctor Carl Hill, promises to find out what happened to him for Megan and discovers that Dean Halsey is, for all intents and purposes dead, which leads to a confrontation with West ending with him unconscious and his research stolen, Hill wants to steal it for himself for fame and power.

This all leads to the climax of the film wherein Hill has gained control of the undead through lobotomising them. He kidnaps Megan as he has an obsession with her and it’s up to West and Cain to save the day.

As you could probably guess from the first line of this piece, I’m quite the fan of this film and the story on which it’s based. It was one of the first Lovecraft things I’d read and it did a good job of freaking me out. Not my favourite of his stories but pretty damn good, my favourite is something for another time…

As I’ve stated Jeffrey Combs steals the show, with his portrayal of the off-putting but strangely charismatic West, and he is the only returning actor for both sequels which I’ve admittedly not yet had the pleasure of seeing, Bride of Re-Animator and House of Re-Animator.

The effects in the film are terrific, great for any gore hounds, though I’m sure anyone who likes gore flicks has already seen it. And if, on the off-chance you haven’t, you should. Also, it may be worth noting: there is some points of nudity in the film.