Did you know that this film was originally intended by director Stuart Gordon to be a stage play? It’s fitting, then, that it went on to become a stage play, a musical, no less! Fortunately for us cinephiles, though, it became a movie first. RE-ANIMATOR is an absolute hoot. I suspect anyone who doesn’t properly grasp the tongue-in-cheekiness of it might hate it, but it hits all the marks it aims for. Not that simply going for a tongue-in-cheek aesthetic is enough to guarantee success for a film like this. I totally got that DEATH BECOMES HER was supposed to be satirical but I despised it anyway. If a movie’s going to be stupid it’s got to be funny, and that one wasn’t. RE-ANIMATOR isn’t stupid; in fact it’s rather witty, in a subdued sort of way. (The “giving head” scene being a notable exception to the whole “subdued” thing, I admit.)
RE-ANIMATOR, I realized during a recent viewing, is basically FRANKENSTEIN without the monster. There is a monster in the movie, for sure, the headless Doctor Hill. But the creature in FRANKENSTEIN evokes pathos and pity from the audience. Hill only goes for giggles and disgust. The moral underpinnings, though, of the consequences of a man daring to “Play God”, are present. And as with all the FRANKENSTEIN movies, the results of this sacrilege become rather messy.