The early eighties was a treasure trove for the young horror fan growing up during that era. Just when I thought it couldn't get better, BAM, along comes Re-Animator. It was based on the Herbert West: Reanimator series of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft and directed by Stuart Gordon (who would go on to make more Lovecraft films).
The performance of Jeffrey Combs as West is what really makes this movie. He has a single minded obsession with his experiments that blinds him to the potential dangers, not that he cares anyway. He's like a computer nerd, only he dabbles in cadavers not microchips. Incidentally, I've meet Mr. Combs and he's a very friendly warm person, totally unlike his West character. Darn it.
What really blew me away the first time I saw this movie were the make-up effects. The effects people really pushed the boundaries of what could be done, from the great screaming corpse in the beginning to the headless Dr. Hill. The dead looked like real corpses, special attention was paid to how real decomposition coloring looked rather than just spray an actor with pale white and blue grease paint. I'm still surprised they got away with an R rating back in 1985 considering all the gallons of blood they splashed up on the screen. The effects hold up when you watch it today, I think it's better than a lot of the CGI crap we get now.
The second half of the 1980's didn't hold the promise that the first half did, with the endless Freddy sequels, rip offs and slasher trash that flooded the market. In a way Re-Animator marked the end of quality horror movies for the decade. It did spawn two sequels, Bride of Re-Animator (1991) and Beyond Re-Animator (2003), but neither lived up to the original.
Until Next Time, Stay Insane!