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John’s Horror Corner: Beyond Re-Animator (2003), the weakest of the trilogy, but still a goretastic bonkers blast.

September 20, 2020

MY CALL: Let’s be honest. This film is weak when compared to its two predecessors (in terms of story, characters and execution). However, this is loads of zany, gory, slapstick fun and I was glad to see the story of Dr. Herbert West advanced in any manner I could get it. MORE MOVIES LIKE Bride of Re-Animator: After you’ve seen parts 1 and 2 (1985, 1990), I’d recommend any of Brian Yuzna’s other gory fair (e.g., Society, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Faust: Love of the Damned, Return of the Living Dead III).

MORE LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR MOVIES:  For more Lovecraftian adaptations, try Screamers (1979; aka Island of the Fishmen, Something Waits in the Dark and L’isola degli uomini pesce), Re-Animator (1985), Bride of Re-Animator (1990), From Beyond (1986), The Unnamable (1988), The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), The Resurrected (1991), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Lurking Fear (1994), Dagon (2001), Dreams in the Witch-House (2005), Color Out of Space (2019) and The Dunwich Horror (1970). And although not specifically of Lovecraftian origins, his influence is most palpable in Prince of Darkness (1987), In the Mouth of Madness (1994), The Void (2016), The Shrine (2010), Baskin (2015) and Cold Skin (2017)—most of which are on the more gruesome side to varying degrees.

This sequel begins with an outrageously mangled zombie and perhaps the most disturbing milk drinking scene in film history (right up there with Terminator 2: Judgment Day). Having witnessed the death of his teenage sister at the hands of one of Herbert West’s (Jeffrey Combs; Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Re-Animator, Would You RatherThe FrightenersLurking FearCellar Dweller) milk-gargling miscreations, Howard (Jason Barry; Mirrormask) grows up with aspirations to learn from the mad scientist himself. After finishing medical school, Howard becomes the physician at the prison that has held West for 13 years.

Howard’s first day is eventful. He meets a megalomaniac of a warden (Simón Andreu; Die Another Day), his personal idol who happens to have indirectly killed his sister, an attractive young reporter Laura (Elsa Pataky; Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7, The Fate of the Furious) who instantly falls for him, and an ailing inmate who becomes his first re-animation gone-horribly-wrong.

And as we’ve seen in the past two movies, West insists he can reanimate the dead without making murderous rage zombies out of them. Only now there’s a twist to his work. First you reanimate them, then you need to transfer “nanoplasm” from a donor. Sounds legit, right? Well, sure. But that creates some mind-swapping shenanigans that result in a fellatio-severed phallus (a gag that persists much longer than one would expect, but for the better), a rat’s personality is placed in a man, and a sadistic man’s personality is placed in an attractive woman. It gets weird.

This feels comparably goretastic to its predecessors even if lacking some of that gory 80s charm. However, this is still rich with blood and ooey-gooey flesh-tearing bites. The gore is satisfyingly gross. We see chunks of forearms and ears get torn from their bodies. And in the finale the gore is accompanied by total insanity. Like really, we reach a level of slapstick new to the franchise. Oh, and stay turned for a great mid-credit “fight scene” that will warm your cockles. Director Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Faust, Return of the Living Dead III) clearly had some fun with this one.

Overall this sequel is a lot of fun and I enjoy the occasional rewatch. It pales to its predecessors. But it’s not without its high-caliber campy charm. If you’re still on the fence, here’s your decision-making tie-breaker: a rat actually “fights” a reanimated severed penis in the end and the scene is longer than you’d expect.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2020 1:52 pm

    I really like the Re-Animator series. Beyond Re-Animator isn’t the best by far, the story is goofy fun, and its still got some good grisly effects for horror fans to enjoy.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 21, 2020 9:17 pm

      I really wish there was one or two more of these. :/ But at least we also have From Beyond!

      • September 22, 2020 2:07 pm

        Oh yes, From Beyond was good as well! That film had some amazingly stomach churning practical effects!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 22, 2020 7:47 pm

      Watched last weekend. Review to come eventually.

      • September 23, 2020 2:13 pm

        Awesome, will look forward to that! From Beyond is one of my favourite horror films!

  2. rdfranciswriter permalink
    September 24, 2020 8:26 pm

    Perfect review. I agree.

    I love Gordon’s cracks at Lovecraft (toss Dagon in there) and I’ve always looked at From Beyond as a spiritual cousin to the ReAnVerse. I, as well, always felt this was the weakest of the three, but dang, it’s off-the-chain fun.

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