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John’s Horror Corner: The Rejuvenator (1988; aka, Rejuvenatrix), one of the better 80s B-movies you never knew existed.

November 15, 2019

MY CALL: What a pleasant surprise! This is a higher quality B-movie for sure—especially the gooey special effects, acting and writing. I mean, if you wanted a fun gory B-movie night, then you’re in for a particularly well-made one! It’s like a lower tier Bride of Re-Animator (1989). MORE MOVIES LIKE The Rejuvenator: Closest would be something like Bride of Re-Animator (1989). Although they’re creature features, Blue Monkey (1987) and Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990) come to mind as pleasant B-movie surprises in terms of special effects quality and tolerable filmmaking. But if you want more science-gone-wrong horror, go for Demon Seed (1977), Altered States (1980), Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986) or Mimic (1997).

No longer landing her coveted leading roles, wealthy aging actress Ruth (Vivian Lanko; The Refrigerator) finances the research of a scientist (John MacKay) working on a serum for eternal youth. Displeased with his progress, she insists he perform a de-aging operation on her regardless of how incomplete his rejuvenating serum may be. So, ignoring some rather alarming revelations on their lab rats, they proceed with the operation.

Medical research in this movie is a heck of a thing, and this plot strangely feels like a combination of Demon Seed (1977), Re-Animator (1985) and Death Becomes Her (1992). After the operation Ruth appears 30 years younger, vibrant and covetous of the privilege. To maintain her youthful serum, a steady supply of fresh brains are required. Not sure what could ever go wrong there.

Meanwhile, the single lab rat exposed to the serum has become monstrous. Because apparently medical research standards in this movie suggest that a single lab rat exposed to a drug for a matter of seconds is indicative of readiness for human trials. LOL. That is, until it mutates and grows and gets really ugly.

Coming as no surprise, Ruth awakens one evening looking like a pulsating, demon-voiced, slime-glazed hag in need of her fix. Upon subsequent transformations she becomes yet more monstrous (a familiar trend; e.g., Mausoleum), next appearing as some Victorian-wig-sized brain-headed mutant. And later, she develops into a gangly rheumatic Pumpkinhead (1988)-clawed polydactyl troll with a Mars Attacks! (1996) Medusa head.

Our next plot development is that “living donors” provide more potent serum. So naturally, Ruth hits the streets and goes brain hunting. The stakes increase and build to the disgustingly awesome melting/decomposing death scene.

For an 80s flick with no stars, no DVD release, and a no-name director, this really wasn’t bad at all! I really enjoyed the monster special effects and gore, the writing and acting were far more serviceable than expected (nothing clunky, wooden or phoned-in; actually quite proficient), and most importantly I enjoyed the movie! In fact, even though it’s no Dream Warriors (1987), it’s quite rewatchable on a sort of “fun B-movie” level. It’s also totally straight-faced serious. So it shouldn’t be associated with the likes of Necromancer (1988), Brain Damage (1988), Slugs (1988) or Creepazoids (1987). It’s more like a lower tier Bride of Re-Animator (1989).

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