Third year medical student Dan Cain is on the verge of graduating from the New England Miskatonic University Medical School. That is until Dr. Herbert West walks into his life. Learning all he can from neurologist Dr. Hans Gruber in Zurich, Switzerland, West eagerly enrolls as a student at Miskatonic to viciously dismantle, what he believes, is a garbage postmortem brain functionality theory of the school’s grant piggybank Dr. Carl Hill while West also works on his own off the books after death experiments with his formulated reagent serum. West takes up Cain’s apartment for rent offer and involves Cain in a series of experiments that lead to reviving the old and the fresh dead. The only side effects of revitalizing dead tissue is the unquenchable rage and chaos that urges the recently revived to rip everything to shreds. Things also get complicated and people begin to die and then revive when West and Cain’s work becomes the obsessive target of Dr. Hill, whom discovers the truth and plans to steal West’s work, claiming the reagent serum as his own handiwork while also attempting to win the affection of Dr. Cain’s fiancee and Miskatonic’s Dean Halsey daughter, Megan Halsey, in the most undead way.
A vast amount of time has passed since the last time I’ve injected myself with the “Re-Animator” films and I can tell you this, my rejuvenation was sorely and regrettably way overdue. Stuart Gordon’s impeccable horror-comedy, “The Re-Animator,” is the extolled bastardized version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein without direct references and begins the ghastliness right from the initial opening prologue and never wanes through a fast-paced narrative of character thematic insanity and self-destructing arrogance with hapless do-gooders caught in the middle of undead mayhem. Producer Brian Yuzna financially backs Charles Band’s Empire International Pictures distributed 1985 film that’s based loosely off the H.P. Lovecraft 1922 novelette “Herbert West-Reanimator.” From a bygone novelette to an instant cult favorite amongst critics and fans, “Re-Animator” glows vibrantly like it’s reagent serum embodied with reality-buckling entertainment and grisly havoc displayed through the silver screen adapted form. Umbrella Entertainment has released a two-disc collector’s set, the first volume on their Beyond Genres label of cult favorites, and this release, with various versions, will include the allusive 106 minute integral cut!
From his first moments on screen holding a syringe to over three decades of pop-culture films, comics, and social media presence, nobody other actor other than Jeffrey Combs could be envisioned to be the insatiable Dr. Herbert West. Combs is so compact with an explosive vitality that his character goes beyond being a likable derivative of a Machiavellian anti-hero. Narrowing, dagger-like eyes through thick glasses on-top of small stature and a cruel intent about him makes Combs an established horror icon unlike any other mad doctor we’ve ever seen before. Bruce Abbot costars as Dr. Dan Cain, a good natured physician with a penchant of not giving up on life, but that’s where he’s trouble ensnares him with Dr. West’s overcoming death obsession. Abbott’s physically towers over Combs, but his performance of Cain is softly acute to West’s hard nose antics. Abbott plays on the side of caution as his character has much to lose from career to fiancée, whose played by Barbara Crampton. “Re-Animator” essentially unveiled the Long Island born actresses and made her a household name who went on to have roles in other prominent horror films, including another Stuart Gordon feature “From Beyond,” “You’re Next,” and the upcoming “Death House.” David Gale rounds out the featured foursome as the detestable Dr. Carl Hill. Gale embraces the role, really delving into and capturing Dr. Hill’s maddening short temper and slimy persona; a perfect antagonist to the likes of Combs and Abbott. The remaining cast includes Robert Sampson (“City of the Living Dead”), Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, and Peter Kent.
The “Re-Animator” universe is right up there with the likes of Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead.” Hell, there is even a line of comics that pit the two franchises together in a versus underlining. Unfortunately, “Re-Animator” is frankly nothing without the franchise star Jeffrey Combs, much like “The Evil Dead” is nothing without Bruce Campbell even though we, as fans, very much enjoyed the Fede Alvarez 2013 remake despite the lack of chin. Gordon’s film needs zero remakes with any Zac Efron types to star in such as holy role as Dr. Herbert West. That’s the true and pure terrifying horror of today’s studio lucrative cash cow is to remake everything under the genre sun. Fortunately, “Re-Animator” and both the sequels have gone unscathed and unmolested by string of remakes, reboots, or re-imagings. Aside from a new release here and there, such as Umbrella’s upstanding release which is fantastic to see the levels of upgrades up until then, “Re-Animator” has safely and properly been restored and capsulated for generations to come.
Umbrella Entertainment proudly presents the first volume of the Beyond Genres’ label with Stuart Gordon’s “Re-Animator” on a two-disc, full HD 1080 Blu-ray set, presented in a widescreen 1.77:1 aspect ratio. A very fine and sharp image quality that maintains equality across the board with minuscule problematics with compression issues, jumping imagery on solid colored walls for example, but the issues are too small amongst the rich levelness of quality and when compared to other releases, Umbrella Entertainment’s release is a clear-cut winner. The English DTS-HD master audio puts that extra oomph into Richard Bands’ score that’s heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” adding a pinch of chaotic gothic charm to the macabre story. Dialogue is balanced and upfront, but there isn’t much prominent ambient noise to put the dialogue off-kilter. Special features on the first disc include the 86 minute unrated version of “Re-Animator,” audio commentaries from director Stuart Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna, and stars Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, and Robert Sampson; there’s also a “Re-Animator Resurrectus” documentary, 16 extended scenes, and a deleted scene. The second disc includes the 106 itegral cut along with interviews with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, writer Denis Paoli, composer Richard Band, and former Fangoria editor Tony Timpone. Plus, a music analyst by Richard Band, TV spots, and the theatrical trailer. All this and a bag of corpses is sheathed inside a remarkably beautiful encasement with a seriously wicked custom slipcover desgin by illustrator Simon Sherry. There’s also reversible Blu-ray casing cover art with previous designs incorporated. H.P. Lovecraft would be extremely flattered and proud on how Umbrella Entertainment not only enhanced the film adaptation of his classic tale of macabre, but also with how diabolically attired the release is distributed. A true horror classic done right!
An unidentified man, wearing medical scrubs and gloves, wanders through town, encountering hellishly gruesome scenes of death. He wanders barefoot through a ghastly journey that might figuratively expresses his back story of how he came to witness such visions and be relatively undisturbed by the horror they represent. The filthy, gory, and ill-fated moments might also be hallucinations brought upon by a traumatic occurrence that wrenches him out of reality and into grisly purgatory. Either way, the nameless man is a lost soul with no ambition, no emotion, and no direction to guide him through an inner conflict of blood-soaked entombment.
Unearthed Films’ 2-disc collector’s edition of “Lung I” and “Lung II” continues with the distribution company’s legacy of delivering the best underground cinema to the forefront of home entertainment. Phil Stevens, director of positive-reviewed “Flowers,” writes, stars, and directs both feature films about the wandering man in a foggy, distorted haze, but “Lung II” is not a sequel to “Lung I.” Instead, “Lung I” is the softcore version of events whereas “Lung II” is a hardcore redux – think along the lines of “The Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II” – that’s much more detached from rationality and by collaborating with “American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock’s” Marcus Koch seizing upon the special effects, you can damn well count on “Lung II,” and certainly “Lung I” as well, being bare-faced dark, violent, and twisted. In more a sequential reality, “Lung” is part of the Phil Stevens’ proposed trilogy entitled the Violence of Dawn with “Flowers” leading the horrific charge. This review will focus more on “Lung II.”
Stevens stars as the unnamed lead, waking up lost under a creek bridge, dressed in medical scrubs, and haunted by unspeakable, bloody post-violence mayhem while continuously battling his evil doppelgänger self. Is this just a strange nightmare or a telltale sign of this man’s troubled past? Then, again, Stevens’ impassive take feels more like wandering through one hell of a dream, an endless journey into one’s post-traumatic warped mind rather than spelunking into one of a murderous soul’s, even if one of the moments of trauma could be his wife – or girlfriend – cheating on him and he catches her in the act with ill-fated consequences. Characters also related to the medical profession, such as a psychologist (David Copping) and quick flashes of a nurse (Angela Jane), are a part of this visceral vision quest. Finally, we come to The Exile character. The Exile might sound familiar if you’ve read my review on “Flowers” as he’s the only character, portrayed once again by Bryan W. Lohr Sr., that connects the two films. The Exile continues to mystify us about his presence, an extremely large and intimating brute with a deathly blank stare and a “don’t fuck with me” attitude.
Unlike “Flowers,” Stevens went the devoid of color route, constructing a black and white feature that, like “Flowers, goes without as much as a sentence of dialogue. Actions, expressions, and every sense of the word “art” tell the story. Non-linear editing and brutally realistic scenes of savagery in the confines of special effects exercise and sparks your brain’s neurons to try spitfire pieces together to cement a coherent narrative. Stevens is almost able to re-tap into and revitalize the silent film genre with “Flowers” and “Lung”, and with the help of a vehement brooding score by Mark Kueffner, I believe this type of experimental horror story telling can fascinate just about anyone without a weak stomach.
Unearthed Films and MVDVisual’s 2-disc DVD collector’s set a beautifully monochrome piece of art with roached infested severed heads, a halfway decomposed homeless man, and a pile of refrigerated sexual organs meshed together like something out of Brian Yuzna’s “Society,” but more gnarly. Im interested to see how Paradis, aka Paradis III, comes to conclude the trilogy and see how Unearthed FIlms releases Phil Stevens’ visionary tales. The Borderline Cinema and Extreme Horror Cinema “Lung” is comprised of two discs that entail “Lung I” Feature Film, “Lung II” Feature Film, Directors Commentary, Editors Commentary, Isolated Sound FX Track, Making of Lung 2 (which is very informative and fun to watch underground cinema come to the fold), Mark Kueffner: Lung Composer Featurette, Martin Trafford: Artwork Featurette, “Cats” Short Film, “Descent” Short Film, and Unearthed Trailers. “Lung” will not tickle everybody’s taste; surely sick and part of a niche network of darkly persuaded and humored people will most likely get it, but there’s still very much to appreciate here from director Phil Stevens and his eye for detail and disturbia. This gore and shock is worth a look and worth a chance.
From Liongsgate Home Entertainment comes Vestron Video Collection’s Blu-ray releases of two sequels that needed some refreshing! “Return of the Living Dead 3” and “C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud” will see the light of Blu-ray day come November 22nd, instilling a 1080p campy fear into hearts of North American horror fans! Packed with extra content and a fresh coat a cover art paint, Lionsgate has resurrected (and remastered) the Vestron Video label from it’s burial ground in the 1980’s, re-delivering cult classic titles into super Hi-Def and redefining a label that made a name for pioneering B-movies such as the below.
C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud
PRE-ORDER C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud at http://amzn.to/2cpUgyC for only $28!
Kevin, Steve, and Katie are an inseparable trio of friends doing some extracurricular snooping in the school science lab when, among the test tubes and beakers, they discover a corpse! But before they can say “Abra Cadaver,” the body disappears, rolling down Route 51 strapped to a gurney. The kids need a spare stiff, and fast. What they find is “Bud the Chud,” a half-dead decomposing humanoid, the result of a military experiment gone haywire. When Bud sets out on a killing spree, the kids, the Army, the police, and the FBI are hot on his trail, trying to save the entire town from becoming “Chudified!”
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio Commentary with Director David Irving
• Interview with Actor Gerrit Graham
• Interview with Actress Tricia Leigh Fisher
• Interview with Special Effects Artist Allan Apone
• Still Gallery
Return of the Living Dead 3
PRE-ORDER “RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3” at http://amzn.to/2diuIRj for $28!
In Return of the Living Dead: Part II, the chemical Trioxin turned people into flesh-eating zombies. Now, the government is trying to control these unstoppable cannibalistic killers in Return of the Living Dead 3. When a young man uses the chemical to bring his girlfriend back to life after a motorcycle accident, she is driven to eat the only thing that will nourish her…human brains! She tries to stop her own feeding frenzy but a chain reaction has already begun, as hordes of undead are unleashed from their graves!
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
• Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna
• Audio Commentary with Actress Melinda Clarke and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Rainone
• “Ashes to Ashes” – A Conversation with Director Brian Yuzna and Screenwriter John Penney
• “Living Dead Girl” – An Interview with Actress Melinda Clarke
• “Romeo Is Bleeding” – An Interview with Actor J. Trevor Edmond
• “Trimark & Trioxin” – Interviews with Production Excecutive David Tripet and Editor Chris Roth
• “The Resurrected Dead” – Interviews with Special Effects Designers Steve Johnson and Chris Nelson
• Still Gallery