'Beyond Re-animator: Collector's Series'
(Jeffrey Combs, Simon Andreu, Enrique Arce, Jason Barry, Bruce Abbott, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2003) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)
Overview: Everyone's favorite mad scientist Herbert West is currently in jail after having state's evidence turned against him by his former assistant, Dan Cain. While being led away, some re-agent falls from his pocket where it is picked up by a young man who was camping nearby. The young man finds Herbert down in his jail cell and learns for himself just what the re-agent is capable of.
This brand new Vestron Video 'Beyond Re-animator: Collector's Series' limited edition Blu-ray is released on July 24th, 2018 via Lionsgate.
Blu-ray Verdict: The original 'Re-Animator' is deemed a classic of the genre, though to be honest, my admiration for it is only mild. Sure, it boasted a terrific performance from Jeffrey Combs, delivered tons of memorable gore, and featured a deliciously nude Barbara Crampton, but I always found the pacing a little off and I felt the movie took to long to get to the all-out carnage I expected.
So, is 'Beyond Re-Animator' a "better" movie? Maybe not, but I enjoyed it more, and it's a rare sequel that actually remains true to its predecessor's roots.
Set thirteen years after the events of 'Bride of Re-Animator', Doctor Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is in prison for his crimes (makes you wonder what he was charged with, resuscitating the dead?), but the arrival of a new doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry), proves interesting to West's studies.
Apparently, Phillips was a first-hand witness to the results of West's re-agent years ago (which resulted in the death of Phillips' really hot sister), and has arrived to work with him on perfecting the formula.
Their studies further progress to the discovery of an electrical phenomenon that could restore a dead person back to its normal state, sans the rage that typically accompanies their revival. But not everything goes to plan, thanks to a nosy reporter (Elsa Pataky) Phillips is seeing and the sadistic prison warden (Simon Andreu) who's catching whiff of West's plans.
Like the previous movies, 'Beyond Re-Animator' isn't plot driven as it's meant to play as a roller-coaster ride of extreme gore and dark comedy. The gore is even better than its predecessors and there are a couple of laughs to be had (even if they're also simultaneously wince-inducing).
The F/X stand out, with loads of memorable gore effects; there's a jawless zombie in the opening, a prisoner who overdoses on the re-agent and literally explodes, and my personal favorite, a prisoner missing the lower half of his body who's lassoed around by West himself. Hilarious.
Brian Yuzna is confident at the helm, giving the movie a slick look and feel, while maintaining a fast pace that nicely builds and rarely lets up. That said, the film is still packed with flaws, a lot of it pertaining to the repetitive nature of the story, which is basically "kill person, revive person, then kill person again," a cycle that endlessly repeats itself.
The script brings up the topic of the electrical phenomenon, but doesn't really do anything with it. Are we supposed to assume that (spoiler) the reporter is somewhat possessed by the warden because she was given his NEE? There also aren't as many "zombies" as the first film, or at least not as many who are in any position to harm our protagonist (there's a scene where West discovers quite a few undead bodies hanging from the ceiling).
Jeffrey Combs - whose character actually starts to look a little normal compared to some of the freaks here - is as delightful to watch as ever, and is really the one element that holds the film together in between the gore-soaked scenes. Jason Barry is flat and unconvincing as Phillips, whose decidedly complex character is clearly out of the actor's range (one would also think he'd show a bit more hostility towards West, considering he was indirectly responsible for the death of his sister).
Elsa Pataky is very pretty, but has a hard time passing off as an American journalist (her Spanish accent slips through more than once). The only other worthy performer of note is the foxy Raquel Gribler, playing the prison nurse who reveals a LOT of cleavage and wears an almost see-through uniform. Pure eye candy, but a successful one at that.
In conclusion, 'Beyond Re-Animator' works simply because it's fun, no more and no less, and whether or not you enjoy it depends on whether you mind (literally) eye-popping violence. The ending leaves things open for a sequel, but as I'm sure you all know by now, that never came to be.
No more misadventures from our beloved, and perhaps somewhat misunderstood Dr. Herbert West. That said, the treasure trove of Special Features here is a pure delight to wade through - whilst at the same time allowing us to unearth a few more moments of fun and gory mayhem!
And so, taking a peak into some of these aforementioned Special Features, I'll highlight the three that stood out for me once all had been visually undertaken.
First up is the Audio Commentary with Director Brian Yuzna, who absolutely nails every aspect of whatever is going on in that particular scene as if he recorded this track the very day he shot the film!
He first sets the scene by explaining that 'Beyond Re-animator' is a film that carries the mythology of zombies one step further, before adding that "it's got a lot of action, a lot of fun, and a lot of blood"!
Commenting throughout about how much of an "... entertaining experience" the movie obviously was for the fans, let alone him to make, Yuzna also speaks for actor Jason Barry, who plays Howard Phillips, who saw the horrific death of his sister at the hands of Dr. Herbert West. Now armed with the re-agent, it is he that leads the charge here alongside (or should it be, come the end, against?) West.
In the new inclusion, Beyond & Back – Interview with director Brian Yuzna, he praises Combs and says that the moment that he walked into their casting office the very first day, they knew he would play West. He comments that he didn't have to work Combs up too much to elicit the anger that pours through him for his deadly scenes, but is eager to point out that he wasn't the only actor taken to their edge of acting.
For his other co-stars were also are put through paces, especially the "beautiful blonde" aspect of the movie, Elsa Pataky (Laura Olney), and The Warden, played by Simón Andreu. Pataky, whose demise I won't spoil here, had to endure, much like Andreu for his, over four hours of "mask makeup" for scenes that, well, once seen you'll never be able to unsee - they are just that gorifically brilliant!
Other new inclusion's that caught my eye and subsequent interest here are both Six Shots By Midnight – Interview with I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft author S.T. Joshi and Isolated Score Selections & Audio Interview with composer Xavier Capellas.
Wow, talk about fascinating, for both reveal so much about both the lead character creation whilst at the same time the musical backing track that only he receives whilst on screen. Xavier Capellas' work is beautiful at times, if not purposefully dark and pensive, but man does he invest such time into his work that it would blow your mind.
American literary critic, novelist, and a leading figure in the study of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors of weird and fantastic fiction, S.T. Joshi, has a tale to tell and he tells it like the author he is. His tales spun about certain areas of the folklore about H.P. Lovecraft, along with his creation West, are truly something to sit down and revel in. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio commentary with director Brian Yuzna
NEW! Isolated Score Selections & Audio Interview with composer Xavier Capellas
NEW! Beyond & Back – Interview with director Brian Yuzna
NEW! Death Row Sideshow – Interview with actor Jeffrey Combs
NEW! Six Shots By Midnight – Interview with I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft author S.T. Joshi
NEW! Production Art Gallery by illustrator Richard Raaphorst
“Dr. Reanimator – Move Your Dead Bones” Music Video
'Beyond Re-animator' Vestron Trailer, Exclusive HD