Beyond Re-Animator

beyond reanimator-rev Beyond Re-Animator  (2003)    Lions Gate/Horror-Sci-Fi-Comedy    RT: 95 minutes    Rated R (strong graphic violence and gore, sexual content, language)    Director: Brian Yuzna    Screenplay: Jose Manuel Gomez and Brian Yuzna    Music: Xavier Capellas    Cinematography: Andreu Rebes    Release date: April 23, 2003 (US, limited)    Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Elsa Pataky, Simon Andreu, Santiago Segura, Lolo Herrero, Enrique Arce, Nico Baixas, Joaquin Ortega, Raquel Gribler, Daniel Ortiz.    Box Office: N/A

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 Dr. Herbert West returns for a third (and presumably final) hurrah in Beyond Re-Animator, a decent sequel to the 1985 cult horror flick. It played at a few festivals and had a very limited theatrical release before it came to DVD in ’04. It was one of the rare times I bought a movie on DVD sight unseen. As a fan of the first two movies, I couldn’t wait to see where the series went next. It’s not as great as the first movie (no surprise) but it is a slight improvement over the second movie. This time, the bloodbath goes down at a maximum security prison where West (Combs) is currently serving time.

 beyond reanimatorAbout a year after the events of the second movie, one of his re-animated corpses brutally murders a teenage girl if front of her horrified younger brother. The kid watches as a handcuffed West is placed in the back of a police car. He also picks up a syringe containing a certain fluorescent green substance. The movie jumps ahead 13 years where we catch up with the boy, Howard Phillips (Barry, Titanic), now grown and the new prison doctor. He specifically requests West be assigned to act as his assistant. He became interested in his work and wants to work with him. He allows West to order the supplies he needs and even gives him a space to set up a new lab.

 Now if you think West has been quiet all these years, think again. With what few resources he has at his disposal, West has managed to find the final piece to the puzzle of life. He’s discovered something called “Nano-Plasmic Energy” which can be extracted from the brain of a living subject and stored in a capsule that looks like a small light bulb. When used in conjunction with the serum, a dead person can be brought back to full life. However, there are side effects that manifest shortly thereafter. In other words, the serum still doesn’t work. Once again, all bloody hell breaks loose.

 Naturally, there’s a woman mixed up in the mess. This time, it’s Laura (Pataky, the Fast & Furious series), a journalist doing a story about the prison. She and Howard are instantly attracted to each other and begin a relationship. The sleazy warden, Brando (Andreu, Die Another Day), wants to get with Laura too. She rebuffs his attempts to seduce her and ends up dead. What do you think happens next? Yep and does it ever go badly! Things go from bad to worse when West kills the warden and brings him back to life using the NPE of a rat. The last 35 minutes of Beyond Re-Animator is a huge prison riot with tons of chaos and carnage.

 In the midst of it all, West dons his familiar shirt and tie and jumps right back into mad scientist mode. It’s good to see the creepy little guy back in business. It’s good to see Combs back in the role that made him a horror icon. It’s good to see a new Re-Animator movie after more than a decade. I only wish Beyond Re-Animator had been more awesome. Oh, it’s good. It has a nice amount of blood, violence and gore. It has a decent storyline. The narrative is more cohesive than it was in Bride. It was shot in Spain, an obvious fact with all the Spanish people in the cast and crew. What makes this funny is that it still takes place in Arkham, MA. It feels more like a Latino country than New England. Beyond Re-Animator has a sense of humor. It’s good to see returning director Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator) has retained the series’ signature tongue-in-cheek spirit. How seriously can you take a movie in which a man who’s been cut in half can still attack? Or one in which a drug addicted inmate injects himself with the serum expecting to get high? This is one wild movie. The head of Dr. Hill is sorely missed but I guess you can’t have it all. As far as cheap horror sequels go, Beyond Re-Animator is pretty good. The acting is about what you’d expect. Pataky is a hot babe. Andreu camps it up as a character who was like a rat even before he was zapped with the NPE. The gore and makeup effects by Screaming Mad George are very good. It’s a fun movie. If you dig the Re-Animator series, you’ll probably like Beyond Re-Animator.

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