Re-Animator: Wikis


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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Produced by Brian Yuzna
Written by H. P. Lovecraft (short story)
Stuart Gordon
William Norris
Dennis Paoli
Starring Jeffrey Combs
Bruce Abbott
Barbara Crampton
David Gale
Music by Richard Band
Cinematography Mac Ahlberg
Distributed by Empire Pictures
Release date(s) October 18, 1985
Running time Theatrical cut
95 min.
Unrated cut
86 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $900,000
Gross revenue $2,023,414
Followed by Bride of Re-Animator

Re-Animator is a 1985 science fiction horror film based on the H. P. Lovecraft story "Herbert West-Reanimator." Directed by Stuart Gordon, it was the first film in the Re-Animator series. The movie has become a cult film, driven by fans of Jeffrey Combs (who stars as Herbert West), extreme gore, and the successful combination of horror and comedy. It currently has a score of 92% on critic site Rotten Tomatoes.



At Zurich University Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, Herbert West brings his dead professor, Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry), back to life with horrific side-effects because, as West explains, the dosage was too large. When accused of killing Gruber, West counters: "I gave him life!"

In the emergency room of the hospital at Miskatonic University in New England, medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) tries in vain to revive a patient after other medical personnel have given her up as dead.

Dan is secretly dating Megan (Barbara Crampton), daughter of school dean Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson). West arrives at Miskatonic in order to further his studies. West rents a room from Dan and converts the building's basement into his own personal laboratory. There is an instant animosity between West and faculty member Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). West declares that Hill stole the theory of brain death from West's late mentor, Dr. Gruber. Dan discovers that West has re-animated Dan's dead cat, Rufus, with a glowing re-agent. West recruits Dan as his partner in research to defeat death. Megan dislikes West, especially after discovering Rufus re-animated in a state of dismemberment.

Hill manages to turn Halsey against both West and Dan. Barred from the school, West and Dan sneak into the morgue to test the re-agent on a human subject in an attempt to salvage their medical careers. The corpse revives and goes on a rampage, attacking the duo. Dean Halsey stumbles upon the scene and, despite attempts by both West and Dan to save him, is brutally killed by the re-animated corpse. Armed with a bone saw, West finally manages to dispatch that which he has only just brought back to life. Hardly fazed by the violence and excited at the prospect of working with a freshly dead specimen, West injects Halsey with the re-agent. Halsey returns to life, but in a zombie-like state.

Hill discovers West's work and gains guardianship over Halsey whom he puts in a padded cell adjacent to his office. Dan and Megan break into Hill's office where they find evidence that Hill has a secret obsession with Megan and has lobotomized her father. Hill has gone to confront West in his basement lab and threatens to blackmail him to continue his research so that Hill can take credit for West's re-agent. While Hill is distracted, West decapitates Hill with a shovel. Overcome with curiosity, West re-animates both Hill's head and body. While West is questioning Hill's head and taking notes, Hill's body knocks out West. The body carries the head and steals West's re-agent, returning to Hill's office. Exercising mind control over Halsey, Hill sends him out to kidnap Megan from Dan.

West and Dan track Halsey to the morgue where they find Hill's body holding his head in a compromising position over a restrained Megan. West distracts Hill while Dan frees Megan. Hill reveals that he has re-animated and lobotomized several corpses from the morgue to do his bidding. However, Megan manages to get through to her father, who fights off the other corpses long enough for Dan and Megan to escape. In the ensuing chaos, Halsey is torn to pieces and West injects Hill's body with what he believes is a lethal overdose of the re-agent. Hill's body mutates horribly and attacks West, who screams out to Dan to save his work as he continues fighting.

Dan retrieves the satchel containing West's re-agent. As Dan and Megan run from the morgue, one of the re-animated corpses attacks and kills Megan. Dan takes her to the hospital emergency room where we first saw Dan. He tries in vain to revive her. Finally in despair he injects her with re-agent. Just after the scene fades to black, Megan screams.



The idea to make Re-Animator came from a discussion Stuart Gordon had with friends one night about vampire movies.[1] He felt that there were too many Dracula movies and expressed a desire to see a Frankenstein movie. Someone asked if he had read Herbert West: Re-Animator by H.P. Lovecraft. Gordon had read most of the author's works but that story had been out of print. He went to the Chicago Public Library and read their copy.[1]

Originally, Gordon was going to adapt Lovecraft's story for the stage but then writers Dennis Paoli and William Norris and Gordon decided to do it as a half-hour television pilot.[1] The story was set around the turn of the century and they realized that it would be too expensive to recreate. They updated it to the present day in Chicago with the intention of using actors from the Organic Theater company. They were told that the half hour format was not salable and so they made it an hour, writing 13 episodes.[1] Special effects technician Bob Greenberg, who had worked on John Carpenter's Dark Star, repeatedly told Gordon that the only market for horror was in feature films and introduced him to producer Brian Yuzna. Gordon showed Yuzna the script for the pilot and the 12 additional episodes. The producer liked what he read and convinced Gordon to shoot the film in Hollywood because of all the special effects involved. Yuzna made a distribution deal with Charles Band's Empire Pictures in return for post-production services.[1]

Yuzna described the film as having the "sort of shock sensibility of an Evil Dead with the production values of, hopefully, The Howling".[2] John Naulin worked on the film's gruesome makeup effects and worked from what he described as "disgusting shots brought out from the Cook County morgue of all kinds of different lividities and different corpses".[3] He and Gordon also used a book of forensic pathology in order to present how a corpse looks once the blood settles in the body creating a variety of odd skin tones. Naulin said that Re-Animator was the bloodiest film he had ever worked on. In the past, he never used more than two gallons of blood on a film. On Re-Animator, he used 24 gallons of blood.[3]

The biggest makeup challenge in the film was the headless Dr. Hill zombie.[3] Tony Doublin designed the mechanical effects and was faced with the problem of proportion once the 9–10 inches of the head were removed from the body. Each scene forced him to use a different technique. For example, one technique involved building an upper torso that actor David Gale could bend over and stick his head through so that it appeared to be the one that the walking corpse was carrying around.[3]


Re-Animator was released on October 18, 1985, in 129 theaters and grossed USD $543,728 on its opening weekend. It went on to make $2 million in North America, well above its $900,000 budget.[4]

It was well-received by critics, earning mostly positive reviews, and today has a 92% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "I walked out somewhat surprised and reinvigorated (if not re-animated) by a movie that had the audience emitting taxi whistles and wild goat cries".[5] In her review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Re-Animator has a fast pace and a good deal of grisly vitality. It even has a sense of humor, albeit one that would be lost on 99.9 percent of any ordinary moviegoing crowd".[6] Paul Attanasio, in his review for the Washington Post, praised Jeffrey Combs' performance: "Beady-eyed, his face hard, almost lacquered, Combs makes West into a brittle, slightly fey psychotic in the Anthony Perkins mold. West is a figure of fun, but Combs doesn't spoof him".[7] In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kevin Thomas wrote, "The big noise is Combs, a small, compact man of terrific intensity and concentration".[8]

Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #32 on their list of "The Top 50 Cult Films".[9] and also ranked it #14 on their "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83" list.[10]


The film will 2010 re-release with an premiere on 21 May 2010 as part of Creation Entertainment's: Weekends of Horror.[11]


The film was followed by Bride of Re-Animator, as well as by Beyond Re-Animator.

Stuart Gordon has been quoted on several occasions as expressing a desire to make a fourth installment in the series, entitled House of Re-Animator; this film would, he claims, be a political satire wherein West moves into the White House during the Bush years and re-animates the deceased Vice President .

In a Q&A session held at the Music Box Massacre, an annual twenty-four hour horror film festival in Chicago, Stuart Gordon announced that he has abandoned plans for the long awaited sequel, "House of Re-Animator." After the departure of the Bush Administration, Gordon sees no further reason to make a political satire.


  1. ^ a b c d e Brody, Meredith (February 1987). "We Killed 'Em in Chicago". Film Comment: pp. 70. 
  2. ^ Fischer, Dennis (August 1985). "A Moist Zombie Movie". Fangoria: pp. 44. 
  3. ^ a b c d Fischer 1985, p. 45.
  4. ^ "Re-Animator". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 18, 1985). "Re-Animator". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 18, 1985). "Re-Animator". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  7. ^ Attanasio, Paul (October 25, 1985). "Captivating Cutups". Washington Post: pp. D8. 
  8. ^ Thomas, Kevin (October 25, 1985). "Re-Animator". Los Angeles Times: pp. 11. 
  9. ^ "The Top 50 Cult Films". Entertainment Weekly. May 23, 2003. 
  10. ^ "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83". Entertainment Weekly. September 3, 2008.,,20221982_11,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  11. ^ Creation's Weekend of Horrors Re-Animator Reunion Grows Bigger

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Re-Animator is a 1985 film about a brilliant but obsessed medical student who stumbles upon the secret to bringing the dead back to life. Based on the H. P. Lovecraft story Herbert West--Reanimator, it is the first in a series of three horror films.

Directed by Stuart Gordon. Screenplay written by Stuart Gordon, William Norris, Dennis Paoli.
Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders... and another one on his desk.
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.


Herbert West

  • We can achieve every doctor's dream! You'll be famous, and live lifetimes. [whilst trying to convince Dan to assist in his research]
  • Do you agree he's dead now? [picks up the dead cat and drops it with a clunk] Do you agree that he's dead now?
  • Don't expect it to tango; it has a broken back. [regarding the dead cat he is reanimating]
  • Dan. [Dan turns to find West wielding a bone saw] Look out.
  • [Dean Halsey] interrupted an important experiment in progress! Granted, it was an accident, but this is the freshest body that we could come up with save for killing one ourselves and every moment we spend talking about it costs us results! Now will you give me a hand??
  • Yes... Parts. I've never done whole... parts. [whilst preparing to reanimate Hill's head and body]
  • Dan... Dan... Dan! [pulls Dan up and discovers a nasty head wound] ...Oh. Well, you'll be all right.
  • I must say, Dr. Hill, I'm very disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death and here you are, trysting with the bubble-headed co-ed. You're not even a second-rate scientist. [upon catching Hill's Head molesting Megan]
  • You'll never get credit for my discovery. Who's going to believe a talking head? Get a job in a sideshow. [to Hill's Head]
  • I am not through here! I told you I have a theory: overdose!! [wields two full reagent hypodermics]


  • Mace: [regarding the morgue] Don't know why they keep locked doors around here. Nobody wants in, and ain't nobody gettin' out.
  • Dr. Hill: Mister West. I suggest you get yourself a pen. [regarding the two pencils West has just deliberately snapped]
  • Dan: This is a dream. Fiction. [Dan, referring to the death & reanimation of Dean Halsey]
  • Dan: He's not insane. He's dead. [regarding Dean Halsey]
  • Dr. Hill: Hmm. Interesting little la-bor-ah-tory you have here. [regarding West's basement lab]
  • Dan: I love you. [whispered to Megan, in the film's final line.]


Swiss Woman Doctor: You killed him!
Herbert West: No I did not. I gave him life.

Cain: What were you researching?
West: Death.

Megan: You... didn't say why you left Switzerland.
West: There was nothing more I could learn there.

Dan: You couldn't call, or write a note. [regarding the death of Rufus, his cat]
West: I was busy pushing bodies around as you well know. And what would a note say, Dan? 'Cat dead; details later'?

Dan: You haven't done this on people!
West: [telling silence]

Dan: God, why does it make that sound? [as Rufus is being reanimated a second time]
West: Birth is always painful.

Dan: It was dead! [regarding the reanimated Rufus]
West: Twice.

Mace: You haven't got my lunch under there have ya? [reaching for the sheet covering the body Dan is moving]
Dan: You got one meatball run over by a semi.
Mace: Ewww, I lost my appetite.

Dan: Oh, man, if we get caught--
West: Well, what will they do, embalm us?

West: [reading toe tags in the morgue] Burn victim... Here's your meatball... Shotgun wound to the head...
Dan: ...Aw, God, he's ripe!
West: [singsong] ...Malpractice...!

Dan: We failed. C'mon, let's go; somebody'll be coming any minute!
West: [striking the corpse angrily] He failed! Not I!

Dan: Herbert, you're insane, now what happened here?
West: I had to kill him!
Dan: What?? He's dead?
West: ...Not anymore.

Hill's Head: Weeeeesssssssst...
West: Yes, doctor, it's Herbert West! What are you thinking?
Hill's Head: Yoooooooouuuuu...
West: [taking notes] You...
Hill's Head: Baaaaaastaaaaaaaaaaaard...!


  • H.P. Lovecraft's classic tale of horror
  • Death Is Just The Beginning...
  • Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders... and another one on his desk.
  • ...It will scare you to pieces.


Actor Role
Jeffrey Combs Dr. Herbert West
Bruce Abbott Dan Cain
Barbara Crampton Megan Halsey
David Gale Dr. Carl Hill
Robert Sampson Dean Alan Halsey
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon Dr. Harrod
Al Berry Dr. Hans Gruber
Gerry Black Mace (Miskatonic security guard)

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