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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Who's Gonna Believe A Talking Head? Re-Animator: Limited Edition (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots ***Updated***

Re-Animator is an all time classic in the horror genre. Here was a film that giving us the goods while making us laugh. There were not many horror films that did that. It also helped that the film was so gory that the filmmakers didn't even submit it to the ratings board because they knew they would get a "X" rating (the precursor to the NC-17 rating). The filmmakers released the film unrated and this turned out to be a wise choice.  Re-Animator is an amazing film and it finally has an amazing blu-ray to compliment it.



THE FEATURES ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Disc 1: Unrated Version (1h 26m, HD)

Re-Animator: Resurrectus (1h 8m, SD)

When Re-Animator was rereleased on DVD by Anchor Bay in 2007, they produced a number of special features, including this hour-plus making of. Featuring most of the cast and crew, Resurrectus gives us a little bit of history about Stuart Gordon, who would go onto co-write and direct the film. We then move into casting and from there we are taken through all of the stories that are well known to fans, and some that are not, until we reach the release of the film and the critics who championed it.

This is a well made doc that gives us a lot of information in a short period of time. I liked it back then and I like it now.

Interviews

         -Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna (48m 47s, SD, 1.33:1)

          This is a nice little sit down between two old friends as they reminisce about the making of
          Re-Animator. Talk of the other films that they worked on together comes up as well.

         -Writer Dennis Paoli (10m 41s, SD, 1.33:1)

          Paoli has fond memories of working on the film, even if it did take him away from his
          dissertation. He recalls being able to work on a Lovecraft adaptation as well as how the film
          turned out.

         -Composer Richard Band (14m 43s, SD, 1.33:1)

          Band talks about his infamous score as well as helping change the film's tone through
          his score.

         -Fangoria editor Tony Timpone (4m 34s, SD, 1.33:1)

          Timpone recalls the first time he watched the film (which was also his first week on the job at
          Fangoria) and being surprised by it. He was one of the first people to support the film
          and that helped get the film seen.

Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band (16m 31s, SD, 1.33:1)

Band plays the music for four scenes in the film and then discusses his reasons and inspirations for the score.

Barbara Crampton in Conversation (36m 5s, HD)

This is a career spanning interview conducted by journalist Alan Jones at the 2015 Frightfest in London. Crampton talks about her father being a carny and how this helped her decide that she wanted to become an actress. She tells a funny story about DePalma and her very small role in Body Double. She then talks about her work on various soap operas before concluding the interview with praise for the work that she has been getting lately.

Crampton comes across as a very nice and warm person. She has no ego to her and will talk about any of the roles that she has done. She does not shy away from any of it.

The Catastrophe of Success (13m 8s, HD)

Director Stuart Gordon discusses his early theater roots and his continues commitment to the stage. I have never seen any of the work that Gordon has done on stage, but I do like his attitude towards big broadway productions that charge $500 a ticket. He points out that Hamilton is the big one doing it now and that most people will never be able to see the big productions because they can't afford to.

Theater of Blood (12m 4s, HD) 

Re-Animator! The Musical lyricist Mark Nutter on adapting the cult classic for musical theater.

I am going to be honest: I don't care this musical. It seems like everything is getting turned into a musical and I am not a big fan of the stage to begin with. I have seen some shows here and there and acted in some when I was in high school, but this feature held no interest for me whatsoever.

Extended Scenes (23m 5s, HD)

We get 16 scenes and none of them really have anything of note to them. They are all character scenes that were rightfully cut out. These scenes are in the Intergral Cut that is found on disc 2.

Deleted Scene (2m 40s, HD)

Multi-Angle Storyboards 

          -Scene 1 (48s, HD)
          -Scene 2 (2m 51s, HD)
          -Scene 3 (1m 20s, HD)

All three of these scenes utilize the "pop up menu" button to change between the scene and the storyboards for the scene.

Trailer (1m 57s, HD, 1.85:1)

Doesn't shy away from the gore or nudity. The voice over is kind of light hearted. Good trailer though.

TV Spots (2m 36s, HD, 1.33:1)

We get 5 tv spots.

Still Gallery (41 Images)

Commentaries

          - Director Stuart Gordon
          - Producer Brian Yuzna, Actors Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, and
            and Robert Sampson
          - Stuart Gordon, and Graham Skipper and Jesse Merlin from Re-Animator! The 
            Musical

The first two commentary tracks are from previous releases and they are really good, especially the group track. The third track, with the guys from the musical, is ok at best. They talk about the musical the entire time (duh), but having not seen the musical, I have no basis for what they are talking about. They will talk about a great scene that they did for the musical, but there is no point of reference so there is nothing to get excited about. Had Arrow put the whole musical, or even scenes from the musical, on the disc then I think this track would play better. The track is really for those who have seen the muscial.

There is also an Easter Egg found on disc 1: Go into the special features menu and highlight "Multi-Angle Storyboards". Press the right menu button on your remote and a video of Barbara Crampton will start playing. This is taken from a convention that Barbara Crampton at a horror convention in the mid 90's. The video runs just a tad short of 17 mins.

Disc 2: Intergral Version (1h 44m, HD)

A Guide to Lovecraftian Cinema (54m 2s, HD)

Chris Lackey, host of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, provides a comprehensive look at the many cinematic incarnations of Lovecraft's work.

While I found Lackey to be very long in the tooth, I did learn quite a bit about Lovecraft films. I had no idea that The Haunted Palace, which is marketed and branded with Edgar Allen Poe's name, was a based on a Lovecraft story. There is a lot of good info here, but Lackey will grate on you after a while.

Doug Bradley's Spinechillers: Herbert West: Reanimator (1h 38m)

Jeffrey Combs reads H.P. Lovecrafts's original classic short story.

             -Part One: From the Dark
          -Part Two: The Plague Daemon
          -Part Three: Six Shots by Moonlight
          -Part Four: The Screams of the Dead
          -Part Five: The Horror from the Shadows
          -Part Six: The Tomb Legions

I had no idea what Doug Bradley had to do with this, so I looked it up and it looks like there is a series of audiobooks that have horror icons reading classic horror works. I ordered the rest of the series. Combs reads this like he was born to do so. He does an excellent job of being creepy even when you can't see him.

THE PACKAGING N/A

UPDATE 8/9/2017

As I do with a lot of my reviews, I bought the product after reviewing it. I love this film a lot, so it was a no-brainer to add it to my collection.


The box that holds everything together is a nice sturdy box, the same that Arrow uses for all of their Limited Editions since The Hills Have Eyes. The cream coloring is a welcome change from the black coloring that Arrow usually uses. The artwork, commissioned for this release by artist Justin Erickson, is very striking and very beautiful. Erickson has done work for Arrow Video in the past for releases like Texas ChainSaw Massacre 2 and The Burning . His artwork is outstanding and you should check out his site at http://www.justin-erickson.com/.


The back of the box is the usual Arrow Video flair with just text, giving us the technical specs as well as the special features listing.


Sliding out the contents, you will notice that there is no regular blu-ray case, but a fold out digipack. This irked a lot of people at first because they thought that the tabs that hold the discs would be the same as the ones found in the Donnie Darko Limited Edition. Thankfully, they are not. They are normal tabs. Underneath the disc trays we see a tree (I think that they are supposed to be veins, but this artwork is one full moon away from being a scary nighttime scene in a horror film). The main cast appear here as their heads are at the end of the branches/veins. There is also a pocket for the booklet, which features an essay about the film by journalist Michael Gingold and information about the transfer, and four postcards.


The back of the digipack features more images found in the film.


Lastly, we move on to the comic book that is included. This 92-page booklet contains the original 1991 comic book adaptation of the film that has been reprinted in its entirety. I have read through this and it is very faithful to the film and is even more graphic in some areas. Worth a read even if you are not into comic books, like me.



So in this package you get:

-Two versions of the film
-An array of new and old special features
-Four postcards
-The comic book adaptaion
-The standard Arrow booklet
-Digibook packaging with beautiful artwork by Justin Erickson

Also:

Both discs are REGION FREE

THE PICTURE ⭐⭐⭐⭐


I have seen Re-Animator on every format since VHS and I will say that this is the best the film has ever looked. The previous blu-ray, from Image Entertainment, was not the greatest. The image was zoomed in and everything was flat. There was no life to the transfer at all.

This is corrected for this release. The first thing I want to say is that the skulls during the credits that match the beat of the score is fixed.

The image looks great. There is a lot of detail to be found and not just in close ups. Colors pop off the screen and there is a slight 3D effect to the image, allowing for depth. There is a thin layer of grain that gives the transfer a very film like feel. There is no DNR or any other digital manipulation.

THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐⭐


We get the film's original mono mix here and I will say that I liked what I heard. I did switch between the various sound options that we get here and the 5.1 track doesn't really add too much in the way of surrounds. It does give the score room to breathe, but that is about it. The mono track is nice and precise. The dialogue is clean and clear and there were no distortions to be found here.

THE FILM ⭐⭐⭐⭐


When medical student Dean Cain advertises for a roommate, he soon finds one in the form of Dr. Herbert West. Initially a little eccentric, it some becomes clear that West entertains some seriously outlandish theories – specifically, the possibility of re-animating the dead. It’s not long before Dean finds himself under West’s influence, and embroiled in a serious of ghoulish experiments which threaten to go wildly out of control… 

Released in 1985, the film was a minor hit for Empire Pictures. The film did really well with critics, with some of them placing the film in their Top Tens of the year. The film was always checked out at my local video store, so it wasn't until a bit later that I saw the film. In fact, I saw Bride of Re-Animator before this film, although I fought against seeing it first.

The first thing that I noticed when I watched Re-Animator was that the film is pretty goofy. I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean it as a form of praise. The first thing that happens in the film is Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) wrestling with a doctor in his office. When the cops break into the office, the doctor's eyes explode. This is the first thing that we see. I was blown away. I could not take this film seriously because it didn't itself.

The film never really settles into a slower speed either. There is a scene where Cain helps West in the basement with the dead cat and the next scene is him getting put on probation, which is followed by a scene where Cain sneaks West into the morgue so that they can continue the very same experiments that put Cain on probation. The film never settles and thus we do not. Just the way the filmmakers wanted it to be.

I have not read the short story that the film is based on, although there is an audiobook version of it on disc 2. After listening to that, I realize how much this film (and story) are like Frankenstein. In fact, the book is told from West's assistant's point of view. I like that this is a different take on Frankenstein. I am just surprised that it took me this long to figure that out.

The effects in the film are very well done and some of them are just downright disgusting. Not as stomach turning as the effects in the sequel, but this film is going for comedy more than the second was. The scene with all the bodies that come back at once is a highlight of the film, but my favorite effect is the head being squeezed by Barbara Crampton's father in the film. It looks so good that when you find out how they really did it, you feel bad for buying into it.

Re-Animator is Stuart Gordon's best film. I still find his film Fortress with Christopher Lambert to be a bit more exciting (I saw that film first, so there is a bit of nostalgia to it), but Re-Animator is his masterpiece. The mix of comedy and horror works so well that it is a surprise that it didn't work in the sequel very well. This has to be one of the best casts as well. Everyone is game and they are ashamed about it. The film does go into some very taboo (for the 80's) areas and no one turned away from it. There have been films that have come since Re-Animator that have tried to do the horror and the comedy, but they never had a chance.

OVERALL ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Arrow Video has done a wonderful job with Re-Animator. The special features are great and the A/V quality is the best it ever has been. I do recommend listening to the audiobook on disc 2. It has really changed the way I watch the film. It doesn't take away from the film, but adds background to the characters and makes things far more sinister than they are in the film. I can not recommend this set more highly.

MORE SCREENSHOTS ARE ON PAGE TWO
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