Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beyond Re-Animator

(2003) ****

The syringe of neon juice is a prop with personality, like the puzzlebox in the Hellraiser series. What you see above is the end of the opening scene, taking place the night of Bride's conclusion. This boy here is a victim of the aftermath, having watched his older sister killed by a rampaging, jawless corpse. He wanders outside in time to see Dr. Herbert West pushed in the back of a police car, screaming "you have no right!" From the car, West looks at something he's dropped on the ground, and the kid picks it up...

Thirteen years later we see an imprisoned West trapping a rat and strapping it to his tiny lab table hidden in a book.


The true mad scientist will research anywhere. He's got no green juice, but by means of electrocution he's extracting some bright blue energy from his subjects and trapping it in a vacuum tube.

Meanwhile, our players are gathering. The slimy, draconian warden is hitting on an attractive girl reporter, although she only has eyes for the prison's new sawbones, Dr. Howard Phillips. (That's what the H.P. stands for, btw.) Dr. Phil has requested West as his assitant in the infirmary, and they meet while trying -- and failing -- to revive an inmate who's suffered a heart attack in the yard. After everyone clears out, Phillips reveals himself to be that kid from before and produces the very same syringe with the very same juice.

Watching this, one rejoices at seeing West reunited with that which he reveres before all else. Prison has made him even more cynical and rude, but at the sight of the syringe he's his old self again. It takes but seconds before the intense, tight stare softens slightly and he realizes...

Why, I happen to have a dead body right here...

This is a moment that comes to West again and again. When the little lightbulb goes off and his gaze is drawn to a nearby corpse, the idea just coming to him. I love that moment.

That moment is inevitably followed by a scene of extreme wrath, and this is no exception. Fortunately, the eyebrow-raising incident is not downright incriminating, and the boys forge ahead. With H.P.'s help, West brews a new batch of juice, all the while correctly warning his new charge that his girlfriend is trouble. But it's not just about the green juice anymore, West is finally noting the flaw in his results. Re-animating a rat, he notes "yes, confused and agitated, just like all my subjects." (Oh, really?) It takes the blue spark from before to return the re-animated to true, calm humanity.

Soon the aforementioned trouble kicks in, the girlfriend's on a prison slab herself and West is dangling a syringe in front of Howie's face. Events unfold and the plot draws to its bloody, chaotic conclusion. While West has improved upon the green juice's flaws, it turns out the blue spark has its own set of problems and once again scientific irresponsibility rules the day. There's one precious exchange when West tells H.P. that they have a new problem with the warden. H.P. says "the warden? But he's dead!" West says nothing, just looks away. The utterly exasperated "God damn you!" is hilarious, as Howie finally understands the man he's partnered with.

I thought Beyond held itself together better than Bride, and I liked that it was less goofy. It is darn goofy, but again: Herbert West, ladies and gentlemen. Herbert West.

Read Johnny Sweatpants's review here. Read it I said!

5 comments:

Johnny Sweatpants said...

"Watching this, one rejoices at seeing West reunited with that which he reveres before all else."

That's so true! I had the same warm and fuzzy feeling when I saw the first recent pictures Harrison Ford in the Indy hat.

AC said...

off topic rant: netflix betrayed me! i had "the experiment" (johhny's suggestion) at the top of my queue, and some raggedy old regular movie showed up instead! argh!

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Love the new avatar AC.

For those who haven't kept track, over the past 3 years, Octo has systematically, thoroughly, chronologically and brilliantly reviewed every single Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm St, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Re-Animator, Romero Zombie movie, and Evil Dead. Am I missing something? I forgot - are you done with the Hellraisers? Where do you possibly go from here?

Yay, Octopunk!

Octopunk said...

Thanks, dude. Actually, I haven't watched Army of Darkness for the 'thon. But yes, I love the opportunity to take in an entire series.

(2 more Hellraisers to go. Stay tuned.)

Props to I'mnotMarc for the Leprechaun series last year. And JPX is the only one who's braved the Children of the Corn movies.

JPX said...

I heard Marc wants to review the Puppet Master and Critter series next year!

Yeah, props to Octo for his systematic review of film series, woo-hoo!