Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blu-ray Review: RE-ANIMATOR (UK Steelbook)

2-Disc Blu-ray 
Label: Second Sight Films
Region: B
Rating: 18 Certificate
Duration: 86 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM Stereo
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale
Director: Stuart Gordon

Very few movies have scarred me the way Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator did with it's dark alchemy of horror, comedy and perversion, it's just one of those films that you will never forget. The movie opens with a great pre-credit sequence by which we are introduced to Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, From Beyond) a medical student at the Zurich University Institute of Medicine in Switzerland where he's been studying with his mentor, Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry, Halloween III) whom dies suddenly from reasons unknown and we are thrown directly into the fray as West injects Gruber with a chartreuse liquid which apparently re-animates the dead but not without some truly grotesque consequences which are witnessed by staff and security of the institute whom break into the lab after hearing an awful commotion. It's great stuff and it's only a small taste of what's to come, there's plenty more exquisite 80's gore and madcap horror on the way!

Somehow West is not prosecuted  following the events in Zurich and ends up in New England at Miskatonic University where he studies under Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale, Rituals). The student-professor relationship is strained to say the least, made worse when West accuses Hill of poaching Dr. Gruber's theories of brain death very directly. Shortly after West is introduced to promising medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot, Bad Dreams) and the two become housemates even though Cain's girlfriend (and daughter of the Dean) Megan (Barbara Crampton, From Beyond), is creeped out by the weird West, and she just might be onto something for it's not long before before Dan awakens to the unearthly shrieking of his cat. Making his way to West's basement laboratory he finds the dismembered feline resurrected and ravenous. Combs sells the rather corny stuffed feline prop as a menacing clawed demon-cat, it's great schlocky stuff. Dan's unnerved by the ghastly affair but West wins him over with the miraculous re-agent fluid and Cain joins in on West's mad quest for life after death leading to more death and tragedy..

Jeffrey Combs' turn as the mad-scientist is a performance for the ages and his nemesis Dr. Hill is just as fantastic. Hill manages to turn the school's Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson, Robot Jox), against West and Cain using an under explained form of mind-control, he loathes West and is a total perv for Dan's girl Megan. In the aftermath West and Cain are barred from the med-school but that doesn't stop them from breaking into the morgue and administering re-agent on cadavers which not so unexpectedly goes horribly wrong resulting in the death of the Dean. West doesn't skip a beat and takes advantage of the freshest corpse in the room, injecting the Dean with the re-agent who becomes a brainless zombie and is committed to the psychiatric ward under the watch of Dr. Hill who connects the bizarre incident to West's research into brain-death. When confronted by Hill in his laboratory West sweetly decapitates the professor with a shovel, still incapable of curbing his macabre curiosity he uses his re-agent to resuscitate his disembodied head, causing even more problems.

Turns out that Hill can telepathically control his headless body which knocks the distracted West unconscious and stealing the re-agent and then kidnapping Megan to perform a bizarre act of disembodied cunnilingus - one of horror cinema's most-tasteless moments and glorious moments. We get loads of gore effects, a gorgeous face-peel, a brain exposed after having the skull removed, oodles of intestines, a decapitated head and a dismembered cat that gets it's brains smashed against the wall, those seeking the grotesque shall not be disappointed by Re-Animator.

This film is a masterwork of horror cinema that's loaded with macabre atmosphere, blood-soaked gore and delicious black humor - it really stands the test of time and if you are not familiar with the works of Stuart Gordon do yourself a favor and remedy that right quick, the man is a twisted genius of horror cinema.

Blu-ray: Second Sight's region B locked Blu-ray offers a pleasing boost in PQ with a brand new 4K restoration and it looks quite nice, but don't expect miracles with the 80's film stock. The grain is nicely intact and black levels are very strong, a very solid transfer through and through. The 4K restoration exhibit a greenish hue that's more prevalent in some scenes than others, not sure if this is accurate to the theatrical experience but I found it very pleasing. We have the option of listening to the film with either LPCM Stereo or a more immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, both sound great with some nice use of the surrounds adding atmosphere to the proceeding and some real oomph to Richard Band's signature score.

All the extras from the Image Blu-ray disc are carried over including the excellent Re-Animator Ressurectus documentary and the audio commentaries spread out over two discs with the addition of the "Integral" version of the film which bends the gore of the unrated cut extended plot sequences of the r-rated version, a very nifty extra and one that's exclusive exclusive to the Blu-ray edition from Second Sight Films. Loads of extras, a new 4K restoration, and an alternate version of the film all wrapped-up in a gorgeous Steelbook.

Special Features:
- The ‘Unrated’ Version - brand new 4k restoration
- The ‘Integral’ Version (exclusive to Blu-ray)

- Documentary: “Re-Animator Resurrectus” (68 mins)
- Audio Commentary by Director Stuart Gordon
- Audio Commentary by Producer Brian Yuzna and Actors Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Robert Sampson
- Interview with Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna (48mins)
- Interview with Writer Dennis Paoli (10 mins)
- Interview with Composer Richard Band (14 mins)
- Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band (16 mins)
- Interview with Fangoria Magazine editor Tony Timpone (4 mins)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (26 mins)
- Theatrical trailer (2 mins)
- TV Spot (2 mins) 
- Gallery

Verdict: Second Sight Films have put together a great edition of Stuart Gordon's gore-classic for the UK fans. The new 4K transfer looks great and the inclusion of the "integral" version is pretty nifty if not exactly essential in my opinion. If you collect Steelbooks this would look mighty nice on the shelf, just remember it's region B locked, a high recommend - a bit higher of you don't already own it on Blu-ray. 4.75 Outta 5