Horror films are not what they used to be. When I was a lad, many many moons ago (and way before the torture porn and post-Scream crowd turned up), schlock horror films reigned supreme. Video shop shelves were crammed with movie upon movie filled with goo, prosthetics and stop motion goodness. For those pining for pre-CGI horror where you could see every bit of plastic gore and effects make-up, DVD distributor Tartan has come to the rescue with a release of this superb B-movie classic.
Directed by Brian Yuzna, the film is of course the sequel to the classic Re-Animator, which of course is itself taken from the H P Lovecraft story involving mad doctor Herbert West. While Yuzna’s love of H P Lovecraft lore is evident from the list of movies he’s been involved with the production of – with the excellent Dreams of the Witch House, From Beyond and Dagon all coming out under his watchful eye – he has always gone for the ‘over the top effects’ to portray Lovecraft’s work. He takes the sometimes dry writing style and quite literally injects it with neon colours, hammy acting, prosthetic goo galore and litres and litres of fake blood.
Only really using part of Lovecraft’s story, the film begins with Herbert West continuing his work into re-animating the dead, this time in a war-torn field hospital. The great low budget war zone in which the good doctor cobbles together body parts and re-animates corpses sets the tone for the entire film, with Jeffery Combs’ West caring nothing for his ‘victims’ and cracking straight faced one liners throughout the entire film. And he does so amidst strobe lighting, dry ice and piles of bodies courtesy of FX guru Screaming Mad George.
With the ‘action’ moving once again to the US, with a hospital that jumps right out of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace playing host to West’s quest to create life a la The Bride Of Frankenstein. So with more body parts, severed limbs and dead bodies for Combs and co to play with, we get some great effects that include a stop motion finger hand monster, a dog with human hands and finally a ‘Bride’ made up with nuts, bolts, stolen body parts and a Cher wig.. It’s all good fun in the twisted sicked way you can think of.
Added to all this prosthetic mayhem, there are also zombies from the first film, a re-animated policeman, a house that just so happens to be adjacent to a cemetery (very convenient for the monster based finale) and finally the return of the disembodied head of West’s mentor Dr Hill, who becomes a flying mobile monstrosity after fusing a pair of bat wings to the side of his bonce.
The film is such great fun, a constant battle to see who can chew the most scenery and get covered in the most amount of gore. Everyone plays it seriously, and the overall effect is like something you’d find in a Police Squad episode.
Overall the film is a great escape back to the olden days of horror nostalgia with Yuzna making sure that this 1990’s piece of fun doesn’t take itself too seriously. It hits all the right horror buttons for a Friday night in with your mates and while no means a horror classic in the sense of The Descent, Hellraiser or American Werewolf, the film the movie has a kitsch feel to it that makes you hunger for more lost gems from the 80s-90s archives.
The only real thing letting the movie down on DVD is the serious lack of extras, with Tartan only providing scene selection and the original trailer (wow), as well as a trailer for an up and coming German horror release about a stagecoach that looks as scary as Teletubbies.