Summer of Lovecraft: Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

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“Welcome to a world where death is only the beginning”

Directed by Brian Yuzna
Starring Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Simon Andreu and Elsa Pataky

The Story

This film is a sequel to Re-Animator, rather than an adaptation of the original story. It ignores much of the ending of the first film, however, largely in order to bring Combs’ West back in.

The Film

During the ‘Miskatonic massacre’, one of the reanimated corpses escapes and kills a young woman as her brother, Howard Phillips (geddit?), watches. Phillips later sees Herbert West (Combs) being taken away by the police. Years later, West is continuing his work in prison, when Phillips (Barry) arrives as the new prison doctor, bringing the last of the reagent and asking to work with West.

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Unfortunately, despite his eagerness to help, Phillips is distracted by the charms of journalist Laura Olney (Pataky) and his pillow talk leads her to launch an investigation, during which she falls foul of crazed prison warden Brando (Andreu).  At the same time, West is developing a means to transfer ‘NPE’ – nano-plasmic energy – which he believes will turn the mindless zombies back into people. Using Olney’s death to overcome Phillips’ qualms, West restores Laura by stealing Brando’s NPE.

Then a prison riot breaks out and West tests rat NPE on Brando, who sets out to restore control. The prison junkie gets super high on the reagent and explodes, the warden begins to take control of Laura’s body, and a rat runs off with the warden’s dick and… Look, the last twenty minutes it feels like it’s just busking around looking for opportunities for body horror, culminating in West electrocuting rat-warden and Phillips tearfully decapitating Laura-warden and going into meltdown while West escapes as him.

What’s wrong with it?

It’s like Herbert West is hiding out in one corner of a prison movie, quietly replacing the usual motivations with mad zombies.

The female lead spends most of the film being threatened with rape or strangled and the only other female character gets her breast chewed off by a zombie.

Any aspect of weird horror is lost in a welter of rampaging zombies.

The score seems to borrow from Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’.

What’s right with it?

Basically, it’s Jeff Combs again, playing West with absolute po-faced conviction. Secondary honours go to Simon Andreu as warden psycho.

In its favour, the NPE is a new development of the idea, rather than just being ‘hey, here’s some more Re-Animator, yo!’

How bad is it really?

It’s just much nastier than Re-Animator; not even in the body horror stakes, but the increased intensity of the creepy rape threats.

Best bit (if such there is)?

In the mid-credit scene a re-animated rat fights the warden’s self-propelled penis, which is about the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. Stay classy Brian Yuzna; stay classy.

What’s up with…?

  • ‘Re-Animator’? Not the film, but the hardcore house number which plays over the credits. It’s ‘Snakes on a Plane’ level of left-field.
  • Did I mention that a rat has a fight with a mobile penis? The fuck?

Ratings

Production values – Basically, if it splatters, it’s here, and that’s about it. Overall, it’s a professional production, but damn it splatters. 12
Dialogue and performances – Mostly so-so, with standouts from Combs and Andreu, although the former’s conscience-free deadpan is more appealing than the latter’s rapey creeping. 13
Plot and execution – It’s basically a prison movie with bits of Re-Animator thrown in. weird. 14
Randomness – Rat vs. penis. 19
Waste of potential – As a sequel to Re-Animator, it’s about as good as  you could expect, but it is even less Lovecraftian. 9

Overall 67%

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