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Re-animator

Year: 1985
Production Co: Empire Pictures
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writer: Stuart Gordon/Dennis Paoil/William J Norris/H P Lovecraft
Cast: Jeffrey Combs
It was the tail-end of the video nasty era, and this was one of the most outstanding of the late entries into the 'too gross for most theatrical distributors' genre.

It's based on a classic, Frankenstein-like myth from H P Lovecraft, but it's imagined through the prism of an early Peter Jackson's work, where gore is played for comedy and no sacred cow goes unsacrificed, even the severed head of a lecherous old man going to town on the naked body of the leading lady strapped to an operating table.

That's just the most outrageous stunt - the rest could form a checklist of the most memorable scenes in grindhouse cinema (or more accurately, VHS) ; attacking corpses tearing a guy into pieces, the large intestine of a cadaver shooting out to attack like a tentacle of Return of the Jedi's sarlaac, etc...

Lovers Dan and Megan are medical students who fall under the charismatic spell of the brilliant but eccentric new student Herbert (Coombs, in another Peter Jackson connection - see The Frighteners), who claims to have groundbreaking research into brain death and a serum that can reanimate the dead body as long as the brain still operates.

It's a premise that would suit a serious, scary horror movie but Gordon plays it for laughs as Herbet, Megan and Dan get deeper into trouble, the bodies pile up and Herbert resorts to ever-gruesome measures to cover their tracks including murdering Dr Hill, whose head will make such a memorable return.

It's gleeful trash of the most extreme kind, the kind we don't see any more and which doesn't seem to suit the times - the most recent attempt (2006 Slither) in gory comedy horror didn't connect with audiences, almost as if it belongs on yellowed videotapes from the 1980s.

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