Re-Animator, based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, is the tale of Herbert West, an ambitious - if insane - medical student who creates a glow-in-the-dark green formula to revive the dead. West, played by esteemed horror actor, Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners), is awesome in his inability to see the immoral nature of his scientific breakthroughs. Who cares if you’re turning the dead into monsters when, in point of fact, you’re bringing them back from the dead?
The movie is a zombie film of the highest order, but one where the zombies rarely, if ever, feed on the living. Rather, they turn into mindless, violent beasts that wreak havoc on anyone they come into contact with. They’re not slow, lumbering, and cannibalistic, they’re just dumb and extremely freaking angry. What made Re-Animator so unique at the time of its release was its wicked sense of humor, which no doubt many moviegoers neglected to notice. On top of that, the gore is constant and top-notch, the effects are fantastic for the time, and the movie itself entertaining as all get out.
Everyone loves Evil Dead 2. Heck, I love Evil Dead 2 - it’s probably in my top thirty favorite films. But anyone who has ever seen Re-Animator knows the influence it had on Sam Raimi’s sequel. Watch the scene where they reanimate the cat and just try not to be reminded of Ash’s demon-possessed hand chasing him around the cabin trying to kill him. (To be fair, Re-Animator was, by director Stuart Gordon’s own admission, influenced by the first Evil Dead.)