Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Elsa Pataky
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Date: December 30, 2003
Review posted: January 7, 2004
West (Combs) is serving a prison sentence for conducting illegal
experiments. When a young doctor arrives to work as the prison
MD and requests his assistance, Dr. West discovers the young
protégé has something he left behind so many years ago. Together
they begin to work on a new experiment that changes the life of
every unsuspecting test subject, naturally.
scene in Beyond Re-Animator is different from the
previous two films in the series. Two kids camp outside their
house in a small tent, but go back inside after a series of
strange sounds. Before you know it, one of the kids, Howard,
witnesses his sister killed by a mutilated corpse because she
was in the way of a milk carton. Across the street the police
arrest Dr. West who drops a syringe containing the secret
formula for bringing back the dead, and Howard, who has been
watching, picks it up. The film cuts thirteen years into the
future and we are introduced to Dr. West inside his prison cell
conducting a new experiment on a rat. That's the backstory. The
story picks up once the adult Howard (Jason Barry), now a
doctor, shows up to work at the prison and requests the
assistance of Dr. West.
What follows is a simple story.
It's not just some run-of-the-mill plot. Some of it is actually
not all that bad. Here it is: A female reporter, Laura (Elsa
Pataky), is conducting an interview with the prison warden,
Brando (Simón Andreu), at the same time as Dr. West and Howard
begin to test the new re-animation experiment on a heart-attack
victim. Things go awry when the test subject attacks two
officers and bruises Laura's ankle (seriously). Warden Brando
has always suspected Dr. West of being up to no good, and this
time he finds out. One subplot involves Laura and Howard
becoming intimate. The only good thing about it is it resolves
in a most hilarious and gruesome manner. I won't get into the
plot any further than this, but I will say that halfway through
the film everything gets turned upside down and chaos ensues. In
fact, everything in the second half of the film feels like an
overly long mutilation and killing spree, which grows rather
tiresome after a while. Oops, I guess I let it slip.
Re-Animator doesn't really care about a story unless it
serves a decent purpose to showcase gallons of blood, guts and
severed body parts. In that respect the film achieves its goal;
to gross out. The effects are pretty cool. The horror aspect of
the film is limited to to just that; it's not scary in the
least. Yet the film is not without its share of wry humor. You
can still count on Jeffrey Combs to deliver his lines with that
signature facial expression. Aside from Combs and Barry, the
entire cast consists of Spanish actors. This means almost every
line of dialogue is dubbed in English, even those by Barry. It
seems like Combs is the only one who had his lines recorded on
the set, but I can't be sure. Most of the crew is also Spanish.
I think the film was shot in Mexico, yet director Brian Yuzna
does a good job of doubling the location for another city,
except in the profile shot of the prison.
One large inconsistency in the
film is the fact that Dr. West doesn't age one bit as the story
moves ahead thirteen years. This is forgiveable, however, since
I didn't really expect the production to address the issue of
aging. As a horror film,
Beyond Re-Animator is
fine. The script does a good job of bringing back Dr. West and
centering the story around him as he serves time in prison.
Looking back at it, the story is not completely throwaway. The
part of the story that does become throwaway is the second half.
But again, I didn't expect much.
On the more positive side, the
score by Xavi Capellas is done quite nicely. Of course, Richard
Band's original Re-Animator theme is featured in the
familiar opening credit sequence as well as in the end of the
film. The obvious highlight of the film is Jeffrey Combs. He's
still got it down, the signature one-liners and reactions. I'd
say he's good for one more Re-Animator film, maybe. The
supporting cast is decent at best. Don't get me started on the
acting. It's bad, but then it's not bad considering the
standards. The actors are not all unknowns as some have small
careers in their respective countries. Jason Barry is from
Dublin, Ireland, for example.
The film's tagline is displayed on
the front cover of the DVD and reads, "Welcome to Death Row. The
Doctor Will See You Now." Yes, it makes sense and is somewhat
amusing. The taglines of the previous two films are more
original. Re-Animator goes, "Death Is Just The
Beginning", and The Bridge of Re-Animator says,
"Date. Mate. Re-animate." Now
that's funny. By the way, check out the rat that sits below the
letter "o" on the cover. Isn't that the most hilarious thing?
The cover by itself is pretty standard, screaming "straight to
Beyond Re-Animator in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Colors are not all too well-saturated, but detail is good. The
print image looks fine with some specks and grain appearing in
spots. Black levels aren't exactly solid, but they get the job
done. Some scenes are not lit well enough, so there is a sense
of deteriorating quality in the "look" of the picture. Most
scenes, however, look just fine. The video here is a decent
affair. It gets the job done.
Beyond Re-Animator in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
There is not much to report here. A lot of the audio is
front-heavy. Of course, dialogue is mainly clear and easy to
understand, except a few dubbed lines are off. Sound effects are
put to good use, well, somewhat. Surrounds don't really act on
them that much. Rear speakers come alive only a few times as the
score swells up. Overall, it's an average presentation.
The DVD features an audio
commentary by director Brian Yuzna. He speaks almost
continuously, only slowing down a few times. His comments are be
general at times, but also kind of insightful as he talks about
the production. I didn't learn much from this track, but fans of
the Re-Animator series might appreciate it.
Next is a Making-of that
features interviews with cast and crew, explores some of the
film's effects shots, and contains enough on-set footage to
suggest the film was indeed shot in another country and with
Spanish actors. With the Spanish cast speaking in their native
tongue Lions Gate offers viewers English subtitles.
Last but not least is an amusing
music video from some Spanish hunk. The song is called
"Move Your Dead Bones" and includes some hilarious lines, like
"re-animate your feet" and "you can party all your life". The
video also features a few dance numbers set inside a prison set.
How funny is that? I never would've thought a film like
Beyond Re-Animator would license a music video tie-in, but
anything is possible. Anyway, check out the video and prepare to
As a side note, the synopsis on
the back cover incorrectly specifies the number of years Dr.
West spent in prison. According to the film it is 13 years, not
select to view the film with optional English subtitles. The 95-minute feature is organized into
Re-Animator is a horror film well done. It includes enough
blood, guts and severed body parts to please fans of the series,
however, some may be disappointed at the film's second half.
Lions Gate's video/audio quality is average. Extras are fine.
The film has its problems, but if you're looking for a forgetful
horror then you could make this a rental. Anyone else is better
off skipping it.
(not an average)
VERDICT: RENT IT