Tag Archives: VHS


Re-Animator 1

Format: DVD + Blu-ray steelbook

Release date: 2 June 2014

Distributor: Second Sight

Director: Stuart Gordon

Writers: Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon

Based on thestory by: H.P. Lovecraft

Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale

USA 1985

86 mins

Being an impressionable teenager with a love of horror movies during the 80s was a glorious thing; VHS had revolutionized the consumption of and access to films, leading to an explosion of genre filmmaking that pushed the envelope in terms of graphic gore, nudity and outré laughs, which adolescents such as myself lapped up on a daily basis. While 70s horror had been brutish, nasty and, largely, grimly realistic, 80s horror, fittingly for a decade synonymous with gaudy excess, revelled in slapstick terror, outlandish amounts of adrenaline-fuelled, blood-splattered violence. The likes of The Evil Dead, The Return of the Living Dead, Basket Case, Bad Taste and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator all injected an energy, dark wit and invention into the genre that the more conventional slashers of the era sorely lacked.

In addition to the DVD limited edition and two-disc Blu-ray steelbook, Re-Animator is also available to download from 19 May and via VOD from 26 May 2014.

Gordon’s movie also breathed new life, excuse the pun, into the work of H. P. Lovecraft. The director’s loose, successful adaptation of Lovecraft’s serialized short story from 1922, ‘Herbert West–Reanimator’, led to a subsequent raft of generally forgettable movies based on the novels and short stories of the American author, who died in poverty before posthumously coming to be regarded as a seminal figure in the evolution of horror fiction. Since Re-Animator’s release almost 30 (!) years ago, Gordon himself went on to direct four more Lovecraft adaptations (with varying degrees of success): From Beyond, Castle Freak, Dagon and Dreams in the Witch-House, the latter as part of Showtime’s Masters of Horror series.

Having revisited Re-Animator for the first time in many years, I’m glad to say that it still pushes all the right buttons and remains a hugely entertaining, frequently outrageous riot, from its scene-setting pre-credit sequence to its final shot of the lurid, green reagent being injected into a lifeless corpse. The gorgeous opening credits (kaleidoscopic neon diagrams of the human body) and Richard Band’s upbeat soundtrack, variously described as ‘inspired by’ or ‘ripped off from’ Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho, aligned with the cast’s fully committed performances and Gordon’s evident who-gives-a-shit sense of fun, make Re-Animator an absolute blast to watch. In a performance that made him a cast-iron fan favourite, Jeffrey Coombs memorably stars as Herbert West, the gifted, arrogant and driven medical student who has discovered a potion that can restore life to the recently deceased. As West’s Frankenstein-like experiments spiral out of control in ever more outrageous ways, Coombs is ably supported by Bruce Abbott as Dan, West’s straight-laced student colleague at the medical school they both attend; Barbara Crampton as Dan’s girlfriend Megan, daughter of the school’s dean; and the late David Gale as West’s vain nemesis, Dr Carl Hill.

Listen to Alex Fitch’s interview with Re-animator producer Brian Yuzna.

Gordon’s movie is a joyously anarchic experience, as funny as it is grisly. Dead cats, shotgun-blast victims, entrails, limbs with lives of their own and headless corpses wreak bloody havoc after being subjected to West’s reagent, the side effects of which make the reanimated dangerously violent. To say any more regarding the plot would spoil the fun for the uninitiated, but if decapitations, eviscerations and a censor-baiting sprinkling of reverse necrophilia are your thing, then Re-Animator is a film you really need to have in your collection. As with many other 80s horror movies, Re-Animator is also testament to the fact that CGI effects are a poor substitute for practical ones. The tangible, messy and ingenious effects on display here are far more entertaining to watch than any computer generated image ever could be.

Neil Mitchell

Watch the original trailer:



Format: Cinema

Release date: 14 October 2013

Distributor: Koch Media

Directors: Adam Wingard, Gareth Evans, Jason Eisener, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto

Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott

USA, Canada Indonesia 2013

96 mins

If the first V/H/S film was a tentative but flawed attempt to breathe some life into the well-worn anthology format by combining nostalgic longing and creepy storytelling, this second instalment represents a coming-of-age of the most over-the-top kind: like the unruly brother who bursts in the door at the most importunate moment, V/H/S/2 is loud, brash and brilliant.

V/H/S/2 is also released on DVD & VOD from 14 October 2013.

Veering from the sublime to the outrageous, V/H/S/2 is a terrific combination of talent and ambition. Most of the stories are not only technically impressive, but also combine terrifying scares with laugh-out loud moments. Without spoiling any of the storylines, suffice it say that the four segments vary from alien abductions to strange cults, with eye transplants and zombies in between. Standout segments from Gareth Evans and Jason Eisener impress and astonish in equal measure, however, the talents of other directors (especially Adam Wingard’s tender Carpenter tribute) must not be ignored. V/H/S/2 is an engaging, brilliant sequel, which deserves a huge audience to enjoy it loud and big at the cinema – an almost perfect Saturday evening film.

This review was first published as part of our FrightFest 2013 coverage.

Evrim Ersoy

Watch the trailer for V/H/S/2:



Format: Cinema

Release date: 18 January 2013

Venues: Key cities

Distributor: Momentum

Directors: Matt Bettinelli Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence

Writers: Brad Miska, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Nicholas Tecosky, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Simon Barrett, Radio Silence, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, CHad Villella,

Cast: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard

USA 2012

116 mins

An interesting exercise in combining the portmanteau picture and the found-footage genre, V/H/S is the new offering from some of the hottest indie directors on the block (Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence).

Following the usual genre rules, it sets out a wrap-around concerning a bunch of deadbeat guys who are hired to break into a house and find a certain VHS for an undisclosed amount of money. As they are faced with a mountain of tapes, their attempts to find the right one are the pretext for the other stories until the very final tale, which, in an unusual touch, explains the nature of what has gone before.

At two hours, the film outstays its welcome by at least one segment and the wraparound is a muddled affair delivering none of the punch expected from such a tale. However, despite all this V/H/S works very well, with some of the segments genuinely inducing a sense of dread and unease while others create a videotape reality that just delights with its own twisted logic.

The final story also pulls out all the stops making sure the entire anthology ends on a high, sending the audience out into the night feeling as if they’ve been through on a ghost ride.

All in all, definitely worth catching – although not necessarily at the cinema given the lo-fi specs.

This review was first published as part of our FrightFest 2012 coverage.

Evrim Ersoy