Tags: Al Berry, Barbara Crampton, Blu-ray, Brian Yuzna, Bruce Abbott, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, David Gale, DVD vs. Blu-ray Screenshot Comparison, Gerry Black, H.P. Lovecraft, Image Entertainment, Jeffrey Combs, Peter Kent, Richard Band, Robert Sampson, Stuart Gordon
has an average rating of 7.3 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
over 2 hours long & very worthwhile
– 86 minutes
– Image Entertainment
This uses 21.5GB for the movie out of 31.7GB total.
Street Date: September 4th, 2012
Overall Verdict – Recommended Cult Classic
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is based on the short story “Herbert West: Reanimator” written by H.P. Lovecraft and originally published in 1922. The screenplay was written by Dennis Paoli, William J. Norris and Stuart Gordon. Stuart Gordon would also direct the film.
The story follows a madman scientist by the name of “Herbert West” (played by Jeffrey Combs) who we’re first introduced to in the beginning of the film bringing his professor back to life in Zurich, Switzerland where he was studying abroad. They find him in the same room with his deceased professor, one “Dr. Hans Gruber” (played by Al Berry), and accuse him of killing him to which West boldly replies “I gave him life!” — which is no lie. We’re next introduced to a third year medical student by the name of “Dan Cain” (played by Bruce Abbott) studying at the Miskatonic University back in America. We see that one of Dan’s duties is taking patients who pass away to the morgue. It’s on this trip to the morgue that he is introduced by the university’s “Dean Halsey” (played by Robert Sampson) to the eccentric Herbert West. West also is introduced to one of the members of the faculty named “Dr. Carl Hill” (played by David Gale). It’s only a matter of time before during this introduction that West accuses Dr. Hill of stealing his theory on brain death from his former professor Dr. Gruber. This doesn’t go very well and it’s obvious that the two men are going to have their conflicts, especially when the man accusing is the student and the man being accused is a teacher.
Things progress a bit and we see that Dan posts an advert on the bulletin board at school seeking a roommate. Next thing we know we’re getting to see what Dan does in his time away from school, namely have sex with the dean’s daughter “Megan Halsey” (played by Barbara Crampton), who he’s secretly engaged to. She has kept this a secret from her father but she claims the moment Dan graduates that she’ll marry him, regardless of what her father says. The two are doing a bit of joking around as she’s about to leave for the evening when someone shows up unexpectedly at the front door of Dan’s apartment. It’s none other than Herbert West holding the advert from the bulletin board Dan had posted seeking a roommate. Dan immediately remembers meeting Herbert earlier in the day. Dan’s fiancé Megan is a bit skeptical when West asks to look around, sees that the place has a basement and immediately asks if he could move in and offers to pay in cash. She tries to tell Dan he should maybe first think things over but money talks and he lets West move in and accepts the first month’s rent in cash. A bit of time goes by and we see both Herbert and Dan attending a class being taught by Dr. Hill who’s showing the students how to remove the brain from a corpse. During this West keeps breaking his pencils to break Dr. Hill’s concentration and also get the attention of his classmates. This eventually leads to Dr. Hill ending the class early and proceeding to discipline West but before he can Herbert tells the class how the good doctor is teaching them a load of garbage. It’s obvious that Herbert dislikes his teacher very much and thinks that he offers him nothing to learn from. Herbert almost seems to enjoy taunting the doctor but the doctor doesn’t enjoy it so much and says that it will be a pleasure to fail him.
The following night or so back at Dan’s apartment he and Megan are having a study date when she asks where his cat is. Dan tells her he hasn’t seen the cat all day and they go looking and calling for the cat. They don’t really think twice about invading privacy and entering the room of Herbert West. It’s there where they discover the cat dead in his freezer with a strange bright (almost neon) green substance. West comes home right around this time and finds them in his room. He explains that he had found the cat dead earlier and decided to keep the body in the refrigerator until he could tell Dan in person. This all seems a bit odd to both Dan and Megan. West claims he didn’t want to just leave an insincere note informing Dan his cat was dead, yet it still brings the question to mind to Dan as to why he kept the cat’s body refrigerated and what exactly that strange glowing green substance is. He’ll soon enough learn what it is.
Later that night, after Megan has left, Dan is awoke by the sound of a fight going on in the basement. Dan manages to fall down the basement steps and finds himself right in the middle of West being attacked by a cat. It’s not long before Dan realizes the cat is none other than his cat who had died. He first accuses West of foul play but Herbert decides to be honest with him and tells him how he re-animated the animal — brought it back to life — with his serum, the green glowing substance he had questioned him about earlier. Dan is not one to quickly believe that his roommate is able to bring the dead back to life but Herbert offers him a demonstration and tells him that he’s been researching this on animals for a while. It’s from there, once he’s convinced it’s real, that Dan asks West if he’s ever tried a human subject to which he replies no but it’s obvious he’d like to. It almost seems like he’s willing to overlook the situation with his cat and agree to work with him on this but then West makes a joke that upsets him. The very next day Dan goes to the dean and tells him that Herbert West has successfully discovered a way to re-animate animals in his research of death. The dean looks at him like he’s insane and threatens Dan in many ways and goes as far to immediately expel West.
This doesn’t sit well with Dan and he decides to actually cooperate with West. He sneaks him into the morgue to get a human subject to test his serum on. This is when things really start to get interesting and let’s just say a bit intense as well. To avoid any real “spoilers” for those of you who have never seen the film I’ll not go into any further details about what happens next. You’ll have to watch and see.
“Re-Animator” is by far one of the greatest little horror films ever made, just as the quote on the front of the packaging: “One of the Greatest Horror Movies Ever Made…” from Entertainment Weekly so boldly claims. It’s also a true cult classic and went on spawn two sequels “Bride of Re-Animator” from 1990 and “Beyond Re-Animator” from 2003 — both of which producer Brian Yunzna directed and Jeffrey Combs reprised his role of “Herbert West” in. Not only did the film spawn sequels but it even inspired a hit musical of the same title. Lastly, I’d like to point out to fans that this film comes to Blu-ray Disc in its original UNRATED 86 minute cut. If you’d like to know what the differences are between this version and the R-rated version there’s a great piece on Movie-Censorship.com that discusses all the differences and even offers up some screenshot comparisons between the two versions.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The film was shot on 35MM film and originally presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio theatrically as well as on the 2002 and 2007 DVD releases. That 2002 DVD release, called the “Millennium Edition“, was actually THX certified and presented on a dual-layered (DVD9) DVD disc which was pretty impressive for its time. Let’s first compare that particular DVD to this new Hi-Def digital transfer for the Blu-ray that was actually approved by Producer Brian Yuzna.
DVD vs. Blu-ray Screenshot Comparisons
NOTE: The aspect ratio was listed as 1.85:1 on that 2002 DVD release (“Millennium Edition”) of the film via Elite Entertainment, yet you’ll notice that there are actually black bars on the sides as well not just at the top (as there should be). Those black bars on the sides actually appear in the presentation on a TV as well, not just in these screenshots. That could be one reason they decided to crop this to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. You’ll also notice that the color has been balanced here in comparison to the now 10-year-old DVD version. Dark shots also seem to have been balanced in terms of black level and contrast. Obviously, there’s a huge amount of detail now visible that couldn’t be seen before. However, as I mentioned, this has been cropped and as you’ll notice you end up losing a slight bit of the original image on primarily it seems the right side. Just look at the comparisons and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not a huge amount of the image lost but it’s enough to notice and for me to mention.
Now just looking at this transfer as for what it is and not so much as in comparison to the previous DVD, or DVDs for that matter. It’s great to see that they’ve left the film grain here intact and it seems like DNR (digital noise reduction) hasn’t been used at all. In fact, one thing you’ll certainly notice is that they’ve left in lots of minor visible flaws such as dirt in the forms of black & white specs, hairs, scratches and whatnot. These can at times be a tad bit distracting but they’re only minor and don’t occur enough to be a major problem. The color palette is subdued a tad bit to fit the visual style of the film but it has some instances where it has vibrance in colors like the red of blood or the lime neon-like green of the re-animation serum. Fleshtones seem to be accurate with the exception of some of the make-up. Speaking of the make-up, it seems to hold up rather well when presented in Hi-Def and doesn’t show off too many flaws. Lastly it’s worth mentioning that there’s a great amount of detail to be found in close-ups.
All and all this delivers a nice visual improvement and does come with some minor flaws that have been left in like the specs of dirt and such, yet I feel those actually give the film personality and makes it have that 1985 visual feel to it. It’s enough of a visible improvement and solid enough of a new digital transfer to earn this a “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality. I’m a bit perplexed as to why the aspect ratio was changed and things were essentially cropped a tad bit but I don’t think anything was taken out enough to upset fans. Fans should honestly be pleased with this Hi-Def presentation as it’s the best the film has ever looked and probably will for a while. Maybe someday (2015 perhaps) they’ll re-release it on Blu-ray in a 30th Anniversary edition or something and clean up those few visible flaws. Or perhaps not. Either way, to be a film that was made on a budget slightly under a million dollars (mostly) in 1984 this looks rather good.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. It’s worth noting that this comes from a Mono source. It’s also worth noting that the previous DVD releases of the film included DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Original Mono on the 2002 “Millennium Edition” DVD from Elite Entertainment and DTS 5.1 ES on the 2007 Anchor Bay DVD. This time around you only get one mix and it’s lossless 5.1 and it serves as an improvement but it’s a shame you don’t get the original Mono mix. The new DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix seems to come with a lot more fidelity and balanced amount of both rear channel and LFE (bass) presence. The dialogue is delivered distinctly here and never seems to be overpowered by either the music or the action. Speaking of which the original music here composed by Richard Band sounds excellent from the opening theme up until the end. The sound effects come across very intense during some climactic scenes where there’s action. The film has its slow moments where it’s dialogue driven early on but things “pick up” around the 20 minute mark when the music starts to come in subtle and begins to intensify to build suspense. The rear channels get a good amount of presence from the music, ambient sounds and sound effects. The subwoofer gets most of its action from the music. Around 38 minutes in things really start to get intense in both terms of music and sound effects. There’s some occasional bits of “dead air” here but the music seems to pull off a “Herbert West” by always bringing things back to life. All and all, this does serve as an improvement over the previous 5.1 mixes found on the older DVD releases and does the film justice enough to earn it a solid “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. I will say however it’s a tad bit of a shame that we don’t get a Mono mix as an option like on that previous 2002 DVD release.
Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in Standard Definition (SD) video with DTS 2.0 Stereo @1.5Mbps sound.
- “Re-Animator: Resurrectus” (1:08:37 – SD) is a retrospective documentary that was made by Anchor Bay Entertainment for the 2007 re-release DVD. It includes lots of behind-the-scenes material like glimpses at the original script, storyboards, photos from on set and during pre-production rehearsals as well as some very interesting facts about the making of the film and some excellent interviews. Those interviewed here include: Stuart Gordon (Director), Carolyn-Purdy Gordon (“Dr. Harrod“), Dennis Paoli (Writer), Brian Yuzna (Producer), John Naulin (Special Makeup Effects), Anthony Doublin (Special Makeup Effects), Barbara Crampton (“Megan Halsey“), Bruce Abbott (“Dan Cain“), Jeffrey Combs (“Herbert West“), Robert Sampson (“Dean Alan Halsey“), John Beucher (Special Makeup Effects) and Mac Ahlberg (Director of Photography). You’ll learn lots of interesting facts here such as how Stuart Gordon had originally pitched the idea as a series to PBS, how they originally wanted to shoot the film in Black & White on 16MM film, the fact the film had a budget of under 1 million dollars, that the re-animation serum is actually glowstick juice, how the film was originally shown in theaters in an UNRATED cut as they avoided getting a rating from the MPAA and lastly you’ll be shown and explained to how some of the key special effects in the film were done by the guys that handled makeup special effects. This proves to be very informative and entertaining. It’s dedicated to the late David Gale who they discuss a tad bit here as well.
- Audio Commentary by Director Stuart Gordon
- Audio Commentary by Producer Brian Yuzna & Actors Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton & Robert Sampson
- “Interview with Director Stuart Gordon and Producer Brian Yuzna” (48:47 – SD)
- “Interview with Writer Dennis Paoli” (10:39 – SD)
- “Interview with Composer Richard Band” (14:41 – SD)
- “Music Discussion with Composer Richard Band” (16:27 – SD)
- “Interview with Fangoria Editor Tony Timpone” (4:33 – SD)
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (26:06 – SD) include some of those from the R-rated version.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:56 – SD)
- “TV Spots” (2:29 – SD)
Overall the bonus materials here are lengthy and prove to be very worthwhile. You get almost all of the bonus materials from the 2002 “Millennium Edition” DVD as well as the retrospective documentary from the 2007 Anchor Bay DVD. The only bonus materials that are missing from the 2002 DVD release are some multi-angle story boards, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery and bios / filmographies on the cast and crew. However one other bonus material that is missing from that 2002 DVD is the isolated 5.1 music score mix. It’s a shame those don’t appear on this release but we get a good 153 minutes or so (over 2 and a half hours) of material and the two audio commentaries. Fans will be pleased with the set of supplemental material included here.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.