Thursday, October 6, 2011

31 Days Of Horror: Day 6: Beyond The Reanimator

Don’t ask me why I was surprised. Actually strike that, surprised is too strong a word. Don’t ask me why I was mildly perturbed that Beyond The Reanimator kind of sucked. It is after all a decades late sequel to the cult hit (Even if you factor in Bride Of The Reanimator this baby is still coming down the pike thirteen years after the fact) that didn’t much demand a sequel in the first place, let alone two. Chalk up the absence of Stuart Gordon and we are pretty far into “Have no one to blame but myself” territory.

I guess I just didn’t expect a Reanimator movie to be so dreary, so lifeless (Rimshot). Directed by Brian “Overrated” Yunza (Have you ever actually SEEN Society? It’s fucking boring. The very definition of a one scene wonder.) with production values that scream “European tax shelter.”  Beyond The Reanimator is a plain dispirited movie. Like going to see a legendary rock band at the midstate fair, only now the bassist has an artificial leg, the drummer is drunk, and the lead Singer is a replacement from a cover band after the real guy hung himself in his garage seven years ago.

Beyond The Reanimator starts in suburbia where some Herbert West instigated mayhem goes down. A child survives the attacks and becomes obsessed with West, who he saw reanimate the dead. West is arrested and sent to prison. The child grows up, goes to med school and then gets a job at the prison, in order to help West continue his research. Things go about as well as you would expect.

If there’s one bright spot in the whole mess its Jeffery Combs, who is clearly relishing the chance to play his signature character again. He plays West, as older, wiser, and if no less single minded than at least a great deal more mellow. It’s a progression of the character and an interesting one. Unfortunately Combs is just about the only one who did put any thought into it and he can’t save the movie because he’s kept off screen for most of it, shunted aside for the bland younger cast.

Mayhem does eventually break out at the prison, as the tension between West, The Young Doctor, and a sadistic prison warden (are there any other sort in movies?) heats up. But it feels strangely perfunctory. When Stuart Gordon made a severed head perform a terrible pun it felt like a work of transgressive, lunatic imagination. When Brian Yunza shows a close up of a severed penis, it looks like well a severed penis. Which can only hold so much interest (the fact that said penis is reanimated and fights a rat in the closing credits does not help as much as you think it might). It’s not that the novelty wears off, there’s just no novelty in the first place.

So yeah, don’t waste your time with Beyond The Reanimator, even if you’re just DVRing it off IFC wondering “What have I got to lose?” A good non refundable hour and a half of your time is the answer. You can find something better to do with it. Trust me it shan’t be hard. 


Anthony R. said...

Poor, poor Jeffrey Combs. It makes me sad that Reanimator to this day is, to my knowledge, still the only decent thing he's been involved with.

Anyway, I've had other friends warn me away from this movie as well, but I can't help but be curious...

le0pard13 said...

Thanks for taking this one for the team, Bryce. I think I once stumbled upon this film on the web and it looked bad. Now you've confirmed it. Thanks.

Bryce Wilson said...

@Anthony: Well at least he's had a career independent of the character. There's a lot of horror icons you can't say that about.

@le0: I do what I can my friend.

A hero never dies said...

Well done Bryce, I saw this on streaming a few weeks ago and was so depressed by it, I couldn't bring myself to write about it! Combs was the only thing that kept me going through it. it felt like Yuzna just didn't have a clue what made the original great.

Neil Fulwood said...

Good call on 'Society'. I watched it once. Years ago. Just once. The rental cost was negligible, but its those interminable 99 minutes that I could have spent gazing at the ceiling and which I'll never have again that I'm still disconcerted about. Brian Yuzna owes me!

The Film Connoisseur said...

I own Society and have only watched it the one time, I only bought it because it was in a double feature with Tobe Hooper's Spontanious Combustion, which I have seen more than once.

Beyond Re-Animator was such a dissapointment to me, the other movies where fun to watch, Beyond Re-Animator wasnt. All the fun was sucked right out of it. It just wasnt the same. In fact, it's never beent the same since Gordon left the series.

There were rumors for a while about a House of Re-Animator, where the president is turned into a zombie or something like that...but it never came to be for whatever reason.