Continuing with our 2nd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of the 1985 cult classic Re-Animator.  As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven’t already seen Re-Animator, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first.

Note: The post contains profanity, nudity, and really disgusting pictures, and is decidedly NSFW. (Because otherwise, what's the point?)

In our very first Unenthusiastic Critic post, I referred to this experiment—in which I sit my girlfriend down to watch famous movies she hasn't seen—as "relationship suicide." Obviously, that was intended as a bit of hyperbole: while N. is still angry about the three hours of her life she spent on The Sound of Music, the three hours she spent on Stephen King's IT, or the roughly seven hours we squandered on an ill-conceived, ultimately abandoned plan to experience the Twilight saga together (discussed here), nothing we've watched so far has truly threatened our relationship. My beloved partner has made her share of gibes, gripes, and grumbles, but nothing I've made her watch has really struck her as unforgivable.

Until now.

What We Watched: Re-Animator (1985), also knowns as H.P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator. Directed by Stuart Gordon, written by Gordon, William Norris, and Dennis Paoli, based on a serialized story by H.P Lovecraft. Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, and Robert Sampson.

Why I Chose It: Look, I could say that I chose Re-Animator based on quality, and I'd be on safe ground. The film is a twisted cult classic, a hilarious and audacious pitch-black comedy that successfully mixes deadpan humor, slapstick pratfalls, and over-the-top gore. It's the kind of movie critics almost never like, but it boasts a 93 percent "fresh" rating on, and found supporters in some of our greatest film critics. "We have been assaulted by a lurid imagination, amazed by unspeakable sights, blind-sided by the movie's curiously dry sense of humor," Roger Ebert wrote of Re-Animator. The great Pauline Kael said that "the bloodier it gets, the funnier it is." "It's not out to scare you," Kael wrote, "it's out to make you laugh at what other movies have scared you with."

The truth is, however, I chose Re-Animator for two reasons: first, because I hadn't seen it since I was a teen-ager, and was keen to revisit it and discover if it was as funny and outrageous as I'd remembered; second, because the one scene I did remember clearly seemed as though it was almost certain to provoke a strong reaction in my girlfriend.

If you remember the movie, you know the scene I mean. And—for better or worse—it did not disappoint.

What My Girlfriend Knew About It Going In: As always, before we begin, I quiz N. on what she might have picked up about Re-Animator through simple cultural osmosis:

Me: So what do you know about this movie?

She: I know absolutely nothing about Re-Animator, except that it's called Re-Animator. Which is not promising. And you did warn me that there might be some troubling sexual content.

Me: Well, to be fair, I haven't seen this film in almost thirty years. But from what I do remember, there may be one or two scenes that might be a little…smutty.

She: Great.

Me: But I'm sure I'm remembering it as way worse than it was. It's probably tame by today's standards. [Note: This does not turn out to be the case.]

She: In my head, from the title alone, it involves some sort of horrible being who does some kind of Frankenstein shit and re-animates dead people.

Me: That's amazing. That's amazingly prescient: you have put your finger right on the essence of the thing. But it's way more awesome than you make it sound.

She: I doubt that very much. I doubt that it's awesome.

Me: You weren't expecting much from Evil Dead, either.

She: Well, that's true. But that's a high bar you've set now. I'm not sure anything is going to touch the genius that is Evil Dead.

Me: I will say that, of the films we're watching, Re-Animator is probably closer to the Evil Dead end of the spectrum than it is to, say, The Haunting.

She: So: subtle, sophisticated suspense.

Me: Exactly.

How It Went: Difficult to say. I'll let you know as soon as my girlfriend is speaking to me again.

Re-Animator, of course, is a variation on the Frankenstein story, so it's only appropriate that we open in Switzerland, the birthplace of Victor Frankenstein himself. In a brief pre-credit sequence, concerned staff members at the University of Zurich break down the door to the office of Professor Hans Gruber (Al Berry), to find Herr Doktor writhing on the floor in apparent agony. Crouching over him, holding an empty syringe, is a young man we will come to know as Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs).

Gruber doesn't look too good: he manages to get to his feet, but he's purple and swelling and bleeding from his strangely bulging  eyes. And then…

She: Awwwwwwww, c'mon! Really?

Me: What's the problem?

She: The problem is his eyes just exploded!

After squirting his eyeballs over a shrieking nurse, Gruber collapses to the floor, dead. "Of course he's dead," West calmly explains. "The dosage was too large." When the nurse accuses him of killing Gruber, West denies it. "No, I gave him life!"

Me: You're intrigued already, aren't you?

She: Yeah, that's intriguing alright. "I gave him life, and then his eyes exploded!"

Me: Well, yeah, but that's just because the dosage was too strong. He explained that. Weren't you listening?

She: I'm just saying, anytime there's a chance of your eyeballs exploding out of your face, something has gone seriously wrong.

Me: If it's a choice between being dead and a tiny chance of exploding eyeballs, which would you choose?

She: Dead. Dead is better.

Me: Well, you're squeamish.

From there we're into the credits, and then we open on the Miskatonic Medical School in Arkham, Massachusetts, deep in the heart of Lovecraft Country. A young medical student, Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) is performing CPR on a woman whose blouse is (realistically, but noticeably) open.

Me: I love '80s horror movies. Very first shot, and already we've got gratuitous booby.

She: Yes, but it's medical booby, so it's okay. It's medicinal boobage.

Dan keeps performing CPR long after all hope has faded, establishing him as a tireless crusader for life: this brief motivation is really the only explanation we get for why he goes along with everything else that happens in the film. Alas, his efforts are futile, and he wheels the woman down to the morgue—one of the half-dozen sets where all the action in Re-Animator will take place.

A security guard sits at a desk outside the morgue.

She: I'm sorry, is he smoking a cigar?

Me: Yeah, you used to be able to do that in hospitals. It was a more civilized time. Plus, he works in the morgue.

Much of the humor of Re-Animator is going to be hard to write about, since it relies on simple visual gags: inside the Room O' Dead Bodies, for example, Dan must navigate narrowly around the burned arm of a corpse, which keeps falling into his way. On his way out, he passes an autopsy being performed by "eminent brain researcher" Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), in which Hill sticks a six-inch Q-tip through a hole in a corpse's head. These aren't even gags, really, just visual provocations, but the way in which they are simultaneously comic and unnerving is typical of the disrespectfully deadpan sensibility of the film.

While Dan is watching this procedure, the dean of the university, Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson) enters with a new student: the self-serious and supercilious Herbert West. Halsey introduces West to Dr. Hill as a student of Han Gruber, and West feigns politeness while insulting the eminent Dr. Hill, accusing him of plagiarizing Gruber's work, and casting aspersions on the older man's theories. "Frankly, Dr. Hill, you're work on brain death is…out dated."

She: "Frankly, Dr. Hill, you're…brain dead!"

Me: Ba-dump bump.

Just as Bruce Campbell's campily brilliant performance elevates the low-budget horror of the Evil Dead movies to cult status, it is the haughty, caustic performance of Combs as Herbert West that makes Re-Animator more than a schlocky shockfest. Contempt and superiority drip from his every line, yet he's oddly likable: he's the smartest kid in the class, the one nobody liked, but we admire his dry wit and self-reliant misanthropy.

Soon, Herbert has moved in with Dan, over the objections of Dan's pretty girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton), the daughter of Dean Halsey. Megan doesn't like Herbert, and neither does Dan's cat Rufus, but Herbert could care less: all he cares about is whether the building has a basement for him to conduct his experiments.

She: Red flag # 1.

Finding the basement suitable to his unspecified needs, Herbert wants to move in right away, paying cash up front.

She: Red flag # 2. Anyone who wants to move in that fast, and insists on paying cash, is either running a meth lab or reanimating dead people.

Me: Or else they're Michael Keaton in that movie.

She: Exactly! And they're gonna be shoving roaches through your grates! Either way, it's not going to work out well for you!

"You won't even know I'm here," Herbert promises.

She: Except for the smell.

Me: What smell?

She: Chemicals. Rotting flesh. Evil.

At the university, Herbert quickly establishes himself as the upstart nemesis of Dr. Hill: he disrupts Hill's classes, challenging the older man's outdated notions of how long a brain can survive after death. Hill can't stand him, of course; in fact, Hill doesn't seem to much like anyone—except Megan. Having dinner at the dean's house, he takes an uncomfortable interest in Megan's dating life, and drinks an awkwardly fawning toast to her: "To Megan, my esteemed colleague's capable, beautiful, loving daughter, the obsession of all who fall under her spell."

Me: That's inappropriate, Senator Kerry.

She: What I'm getting from this is that people who work on the brain are creepy as shit.

Back at Dan's house, Megan notices that she hasn't seen Rufus the Cat for a while.

She: The fucking cat's dead, honey.

Me: I don't know why you would assume that. What could possibly have happened to the cat?

She: He's being experimented on by Herr Doctor Creepy! "Oh, let's see if they really have nine lives." "Meowrr!"

Upon investigating, they find the cat's body in the mini-fridge in Herbert's room, just as Herbert arrives home. Herbert explains that the cat was dead when he found it, and that he put it in the refrigerator for safekeeping until he could break the news to Dan. Couldn't you have left me a note? Dan asks, prompting Herbert to dryly deliver what is perhaps my favorite line from the movie: "What would the note have said, Dan? 'Cat dead, details later?'"

She: It's a fair point.

That night, however, Dan awakens to the sounds of a cat, coming from the basement. But these are not normal cat sounds: rather, they are high-pitched, shrieking, tortured noises.

She: That doesn't sound right. That is not a happy cat. That cat sounds like a paper shredder.

Dan goes down into the basement, to find Herbert tearing around the basement in a panic with a very angry Rufus attached to his back. (This fight is a masterpiece of slapstick, accomplished through the simple special effect of stapling a dead cat to Jeffrey Comb's shirt.)

Dan, stunned, starts asking questions, but Herbert is a little busy. "Later!" he snarls.

She: "Cat pissed, details later."

Herbert—in another deadpan moment of gruesome horror—manages to grab the cat and throw it full-force into a cement wall, killing it. And then he explains to Dan that he has developed a fluorescent green chemical reagent that can reanimate dead tissue.

She: Apparently, all that Mountain Dew you drink is good for you.

Me: See? That's what I've been saying for years!

She: But it seems like a lot of work. Can't you just bury the cat in an evil pet cemetary?

Me: Sure, if you have one nearby. But most cities aren't zoned for evil pet cemetaries.

Dan, despite the evidence of his own eyes, can't believe it's true. "Rufus wasn't dead to begin with," he protests, and for a moment he and Herbert reenact a slightly altered version of the Dead Parrot Sketch. "Do you agree he's dead now?" Herbert asks, lifting the stiff and broken animal a foot off the table and then letting it carelessly drop with a thud.

She: [Laughing] Poor cat.

Herbert prepares to demonstrate his formula by reviving the bloodied and broken Rufus once again.

She: Ohhhhhh, don't do that. That cat has had enough. It's brains are on the wall.

"Don't expect it to tango," Herbert says. "It has a broken back." And indeed, once reanimated, the cat can do little but writhe and moan grotesquely.

She: OK, seriously? Ohhhh….Allllllrighty….Ewww!

Dan is convinced, and goes to Dean Halsey to try to get some funding and lab support for Herbert's experiments. But Halsey is mostly worried about whether Dan and Herbert have drawn Megan into their insanity. "What have you been doing with my daughter?" he asks, appalled.

She: Re-animating dead people.

Me: Oh, and a little fucking.

The meeting ends with Herbert expelled, and Dan having lost his scholarship.

She: If you need a full scholarship, you should just put on blackface.

Me: That's an entirely different '80s movie

With virtually nothing else to lose, Herbert and Dan set out to really prove that Herbert's re-animation agent works: they sneak into the morgue past the least-attentive security guard in history, and choose a recently deceased body-builder for their first human trials. (Personally, I would have chosen a relatively fresh Girl Scout or a 90-year-old quadriplegic, but hell, I'm no scientist.)

The first dose doesn't seem to have any effect, but Herbert won't give up. "Obviously, the human dosage factor is unknown," Herbert says. "Increasing the dosage to 20 CCs of reagent."

Me: I don't feel like these are really controlled scientific conditions.

She: No, he's pretty much squirting that green shit around however he wants.

The increased dosage has a definite effect: steroid-boy comes to violent life.

She: Too many CCs!

Me: Obviously, the dosage needs a little fine tuning, but the basic principles are sound.

She: What I'm saying is, he's bringing back the Hulk, every time.

(The cast list for Re-Animator is a delight: this gentleman—played by Peter Kent, a frequent stunt-double for Arnold Schwarzenegger—is credited as "Melvin the Re-Animated." Other characters listed in the credits include Slit Wrist Girl Corpse, Failed Operation Corpse, Motorcycle Accident Corpse, and Bullet Wound to Face Corpse. I have to believe that any actor would be proud to have one of these distinguished roles on his or her resumé.)

Naked dead Melvin starts hurling Dan and Herbert all over the morgue, and this—unfortunately—is the moment that Dean Halsey comes to investigate their shenanigans. Melvin bites off several of Halsey's fingers, spitting them down his own bloodied chest—“Awwwww, really?” my girlfriend protests—before hurling the poor college administrator against the wall like he was a dead cat.

Herbert—imperturbable in a crisis—manages to shove a rotating bone saw through Melvin's chest from behind. (I'll spare you a screenshot of that scene, but the sight of it makes N. go "OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH…OK, REALLY?")

Now the plucky young scientists are left with two messy bodies to explain, and one of them is Dan's would-be father-in-law. Herbert, of course, thinks the obvious solution is to revive Dean Halsey as soon as possible. "Twelve CCs being administered," Herbert explains. "The dosage being lowered in accordance with the freshness of the subject."

She: Again, I don't feel like there's a lot of rigorous scientific procedure being followed here. Shouldn't they have notes and control groups and shit? It feels like he's kind of winging it.

Me: The greatest advances in science are always achieved on the fly.

She: Plus, I don't think you could really bore through a body with that saw thing.

Me: You're questioning the realism now? Now?

Dean Halsey wakes up—in the same good mood as everyone else Herbert has revived—just as Megan enters.

Me: She should probably just get a new boyfriend.

She: Yeah, she needs to make some different choices with her life. He's not gonna come out of this with his hands clean.

The security guard finally appears, just in time for Herbert to blame the entire mess on the apparently insane Dean Halsey.

She: He's a horrible actor.

Me: Which one?

She: The security guard. He's also really bad at security.

When next we see the Dean, he's been safely installed in a padded room, where he can be observed through a one-way mirror in Dr. Hill's office.

Me: He—on the other hand—is an excellent actor. Look at the snarl work. And the drool. But does Dr. Hill's office just come with an adjoining rubber room? How often would you use something like that?

She: Apparently he's into some kinky shit.

Observing Dean Halsey under these close conditions leads the haughty Dr. Hill to realize that the Dean is not crazy, the Dean is fucking dead. He goes to Herbert's lab to confront him, with the goal of stealing credit for the young man's discovery. Herbert, of course, has no choice but to decapitate Dr. Hill with a shovel. "Nice," my girlfriend laughs, as Dr. Hill's head rolls off.

Herbert had been doing some studies of the cat's mutilated body, which sat in a tray beside his microscope: now he dumps poor Rufus unceremoniously on the floor—which, for the record, makes N. laugh again—and puts Dr. Hill's head in the tray instead. The problem is, it just won't stand up.

She: You need a stand for that..

Herbert has had the same thought, and impales the head on a paper spindle.

She: [Laughing] There you go.

"I've never done whole parts before," Herbert says to himself, obviously relishing the opportunity, and shoots both the head and the body up with his solution. (He just doesn't learn.) Unfortunately, it turns out that the reanimated Dr. Hill's head can control his headless body, which promptly stands up and knocks Herbert out.

Now Dr. Hill is free, albeit in two pieces. He stops by his office for a few supplies, including some bags of blood to keep him rejuvenated (and well-lubricated) in the tub.

She: I don't think this is medically accurate.

Me: Sure it is. I'm sure they did their research.

She: No, I took AP Anatomy and Physiology in high school, and I don't think you can't just osmosis blood through your severed neck and be okay.

Hill also figures out that the experimental lobotomy technique he's used on Dean Halsey allows him to control the Dean's will—because sure, why not?—and seizes on the brilliant idea of attaching a plastic model of a head onto his headless body, so it can walk around unnoticed. It is through this clever subterfuge that Hill's body—carrying the real head in a bag—is able to sneak past the canny security guard and get back into the morgue.

She: REALLY? He should be fired. WORST. SECURITY GUARD. EVER.

Meanwhile, Hill has sent the Zombie Dean on a mission: to kidnap the object of Hill's lust, Megan. Daddy brings Megan to the morgue, dumping her unconscious body on the table beside the leering Dr. Hill's decapitated head and stripping her shirt off.

She: OK, this is getting weird.

Me: Getting?

It's about to get weirder: so far, Re-Animator has featured exploding eyeballs, cat mutilation, severed fingers, chest drilling, and naked re-animated strongmen, but this scene is the one everyone remembers. It's the scene I remembered, despite having last seen the movie nearly 30 years ago.

She: I'm not surprised that you remember this. I could imagine that this would be your takeaway. Zombie Dad strips his daughter, while the man who is obsessed with her has his head in a tray, looking on while his headless body straps her down to a table.

Me: I should warn you, it might get worse.

And it does get worse. The headless body starts feeling her up, while Hill—obviously still enjoying a psychic connection to his own hands—relishes the sensations.

She: Aw this is…seriously?

Me: What's the problem?

She: Really? Really? Oh, I don't even know what to call this. This is like, rape by proxy.

Me: Yeah, I'm not sure there's a criminal code for this.

She: This is too much.

Me: It still might get worse, actually.


The answer to my girlfriend's question comes almost immediately. Megan wakes up to see the doll-headed body staring down at her, and the decapitated head leering from the tray. She screams, knocks the plastic head off the body, and then screams again. Undeterred, Hill's body picks up his own decapitated head, and brings it down to Megan's face. "I have always admired your beauty, my dear," he rasps. "I think I have always loved you." A diehard romantic, he sticks his tongue in Megan's ear, and then proceeds to lick his way down her body.

My girlfriend takes slight issue with this.

She: Ohhhhhhhhhhh-kay. Oh, No. NO. OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH I am out of here. I am done. No. NO. NO! Are you fucking kidding me?

You might think—as N thinks—that things couldn't possibly get any worse from here. You—and N.—would be wrong.


Is this the place to mention that, on the audio commentary of the Re-Animator DVD, actress Barbara Crampton says that this is her mother's favorite of all of her movies? And frankly, it's hard to imagine making any other choice: it's so completely, fantastically outrageous and over-the-top that it becomes impossible to take it seriously, and therefore almost impossible to be offended. "One of the most boring experiences on Earth is a trash movie without the courage of its lack of convictions," wrote Roger Ebert, and he was right. Re-Animator definitely has the courage of its lack of convictions, and, in the end, all you can do is laugh.

Fortunately, before the film goes that extra step towards complete necrophiliac pornography, our hero Herbert West arrives on the scene to interrupt the good doctor's foreplay. Deadpan, dry, as imperturbable as always, Herbert chastises Dr. Hill for his limited vision. "I must say, Dr. Hill, I'm very disappointed in you," West says. "You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed co-ed. You're not even a second-rate scientist…You'll never get credit for my discovery. Who's going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a side-show."

But West—and Dan, who's right behind him—have walked right into Hill's trap: in a final nasty surprise, all the bodies in the morgue wake up and start attacking, on Dr. Hill's orders. Now they are battling a room full of re-animated naked corpses. But Megan manages to get through to her zombified father, who switches teams and crushes Dr. Hill's head, while Herbert manages to inject Hill's body with an overdose of his glowing green formula.

This has an unfortunate—but no doubt medically realistic—side-effect: Dr. Hill's intestines come alive and begin strangling Herbert.


Me: Umm…I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure that's a large intestine.

She: Too many CCs! Too many CCs! But there's some bullshit medical shit going on in this movie. No way is that a large intestine.

Me: You've seen a lot of large intestines, have you?

She: I know large intestines. I took AP Anatomy and Physiology.

Me: Well, granted, this one is more active than they usually are. They're usually a little less tentacl-y. Must be the result of a secondary condition. Diverticulitis, maybe. Or Crohn's disease.

She: You wanna blame it on celiac? Too much gluten, maybe?

Me: Could be a gluten reaction, sure. That shit's in everything.

As Herbert succumbs to the intestinal tentacle, Dan and Megan flee to the elevator, but at the last moment a burned zombie gets into the elevator and strangles Megan to death. In the kind of structural symmetry that is the mark of quality literature, we get a callback to Dan's first scene, as he tries to save her life through CPR, and fails. She is dead…but Dan has escaped with a quantity of Herbert's reagent.

She: Yeah, because this has worked out so well so far.

Dan administers the bright green formula that will restore his dead girlfriend to life, as the screen fades to black.

The Verdict

Look, for the record, my girlfriend laughed—sometimes hysterically—all the way through Re-Animator. I feel like it's important to say that up front, because she will deny this. But I have the tapes, and, if she insists on sticking to her story, I will be forced to release them. She laughed every time Herbert threw the dead cat around, she laughed when he stuck Dr. Hill's head on a spike, and yes, she laughed when headless Dr. Hill was molesting poor Megan. She was horrified, but she was laughing.

She just doesn't want to admit it.

She: [Speaking slowly and carefully] I can't express…how angry I am with you…that you made me watch that.

Me: I think what you mean to say is, you're angry that I didn't make you watch that sooner.

She: There are no words for how base and unpleasant an experience that was.

Me: I understand: you're upset because we've been together more than seven years, and I never drew your attention to the greatest movie ever made.

She: I sort of hate you. I sort of hate you right now. I sort of question why I'm with you.

Me: What you mean to say is, "OMG, why didn't you show this to me on our first date?"

She: What I mean to say is, there was always this unspoken assumption that I would break up with you during this process. That at some point, there would be something that would cause me to break up with you. Some straw that broke the camel's back. What I'm saying is, this was the straw. Seven years, down the drain, because you made me watch The Re-Animator.

Me: It's just Re-Animator. There's no article.

She: You really want to argue that right now? You really think that's the point right now?

Me: I'm just trying to be accurate.

She: I AM NOT SPEAKING TO YOU FOR THE REST OF THE EVENING. I don't have anything to say to you. I don't have anything to say. I can't un-see the horrible things that I've just seen.

Me: What exactly is your objection?

She: The existence of the film.

Me: Oh please, the whole film? You act like it has no redeeming value.

She: IT HAS NO REDEEMING VALUE. Please tell me what the redeeming value is in that film.

Me: Um, you know…funny?

She: No. It's not funny. It's not funny enough to excuse rape by dismembered head. It is not funny enough to excuse me having to see a BLOODY SEVERED HEAD LICKING A GIRL'S BREAST AND THEN PERFORMING ORAL SEX ON HER.

Me: You act like no one else in the whole history of cinema has received decapitated cunnilingus before.

She: I'm not talking to you. That was the most tasteless thing I have ever seen, ever. 

Me: You thought it was funny! You were laughing all the way through. You were okay with it—

She: I was barely okay with it, up until that point. I was going to let it pass. But whatever little fucking jokes you think were so funny, all of that good will—if we can call it that—was negated when she was raped by the disembodied head.

Me: Well, first of all, at best we'd have to call that attempted rape by disembodied head. Let's not go overboard. Secondly, you really take all the fun out of it when you keep using the "R" word.

She: Because it was rape! Head rape!

Me: Attempted head rape. And I'm not sure she wasn't a little bit into it.

She: I'm done. I'm done. I'm done with this movie, I'm done with this process, I'm done with you.

Me: I mean, he was a good looking guy…for a talking head.


Me: OK, but can I ask you one final question? For posterity? For our fan base? Inquiring minds want to know.

She: [Stony glare]

Me: What'd you think of the movie?

She: [Sighing] If, when Rufus came back to life, he ate his own brain matter off the floor, then vomited out the brain matter, then licked it up again, then shat it out, that substance would be of more worth to me than this film.

Me: But memorable, right? You're never going to forget it are you? Think how many movies you see that you forget as soon as you leave the theater. This one will stay with you, forever. That's a gift that keeps on giving.

She: YOU MADE ME WATCH A HEADLESS RAPE. Head rape is never okay! Head rape is always wrong! No means no, even to a disembodied head!

Me: You know, I don't know what was so worse about this, compared to—say—the tree rape in Evil Dead. You had no problem with the tree rape. You made little Arbor Day jokes about the tree rape. So what's the difference? Did you have a tramautic experience with a disembodied head when you were a child or something? Is there something I should know about?

She: I’m sorry, just because I find head rape troubling, I must have been traumatized as a child?

Me: But why is head rape so much worse than tree rape? I mean, at least this guy was human. Differently abled, sure, but human.

She: I AM DONE TALKING ABOUT THIS MOVIE. I am going away. I don't want to watch shit else with you. I am DONE.

Me: Ok, we'll talk about it later, when you're calmer. We'll revisit it.

She: I don't have shit else to revisit! I'm done!

Me: I'm going to give you some time to collect your thoughts.

She: I don't need time! I don't have shit else to say! [Leaving the room]

Me: [Calling after her] You know, there are couple of sequels.

She: [Door slams as N. locks herself in the bedroom]

Me: Maybe next year?

Next Up for The Unenthusiastic Critic: My girlfriend, against her better judgment, comes back for a dose of J-Horror as we watch 2003's Ju-On: The Grudge


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5 thoughts on “RE-ANIMATOR (1985)”

  1. There's an updated LIVE stage version of the movie! It comes with blood-spraying all over those in the first 5 rows and it's a MUSICAL!! Both my 14-year old and I both LOVED it!! The original director/writer did the stageplay. We caught it at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles, and I've seen it advertised elsewhere too. It was so good I had to post here to encourage others to see if it's coming to a local theater near you. I believe it actually won some LA WEEKLY theater awards as well.

  2. "Sure it is. I'm sure they did their research."

    Hilarious writeup. You've got me giggling at my desk, hoping no one walks by while I'm ogling Barbara Crampton. I'm not sure how many times I rented the Re-Animator video — teenaged me couldn't get enough of that perfect cocktail of gore and humor (and, well, I mean, come on, Barbara Crampton!).

    Re-watching it a couple years ago, I saw it through new eyes after I realized the opening title music was a direct rip-off Bernard Herrmann's "Psycho" theme (mixed around and re-orchestrated with woodwinds and a cheesy metronomic snare-drum beat). And then other things started seeming familiar, such as the medical lecture scene ("Mr. West, I suggest you get yourself a pen.") hearkened back to a similar scene in "Young Frankenstein," which was itself probably a hand-me-down. I think Kael's quote gets at the makers' method, that is, to take a bunch of genre tropes — to re-animate them, if you will — and push them so far over the top that horror becomes camp.

    Have you seen any of the sequels? I tried to watch "Beyond Re-Animator" but couldn't finish it.

    I enjoyed Gordon's follow-up, From Beyond, but haven't seen it since high school, and don't know how it holds up.

  3. Kathleen Gaines Madison

    Oh god, how I love that movie. Thank you for this trip down memory lane. And Ingy, they made a musical! Brilliant. UC, hope N is speaking to you again. Although, she does make some pretty good points.

    What if we get caught?
    What are they gonna do… embalm us??

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