Beyond Re-Animator

BR1

It’s been thirteen years since Herbert West caused not one, but two different zombie outbreaks around the Miskatonic campus, his experiments landing him a lengthy prison sentence, but this hasn’t stopped him from trying to perfect his reagent formula.

Jailhouse Mad Scientist should be an option to check on any job application. If I was an employer, I’d absolutely hire a mad scientist who had worked his trade from behind bars. They’d be able to do so much, fix things, glare, organize, rant about world domination, glare, and they’d have to pretty damn clever to have remained a mad scientist while in prison. How could I not want to have one working for me. Sure, I’d have to watch to make sure he or she didn’t try to turn drinks into vile potions that transformed my customers into chaotic monstrosities, and I’d never be able to leave them alone around machines for fear of finding my place of business overrun by violent robots. I’d also probably never be able to leave them alone with my other employees since that’s how things like the rage virus get spread around and I prefer my fellow undead to maintain a cool head. There’s also the little matter of checking him for ray guns, black hole grenades, gravimetric pulse generators, hidden bio-armor, and a whole host of other items I probably would never even think of, but surely the perks of having a mad scientist on the pay role far outweigh the lengthy problems that come with it even if I have to check him constantly, never leave him alone, and install a security system that would make the Pentagon jealous.  On second thought…

Our third and final film in the Re-Animator trilogy begins at the end of the prior film, Bride of Re-Animator. Herbert West, the man responsible for creating the reagent used to bring the dead back to life, somehow escaped the collapse of his crypt full of rejects, but was promptly arrested by the police. It seems that while West dug himself out (at least I assume he dug himself out, how he escaped the crypt is never actually explained), one of his errant zombies found a nearby home and murdered a young woman in front of her younger brother leading to West being convicted of murder and sent to prison. Thirteen years later and West is still doing time, but he hasn’t let prison slow him down. He’s been coming up with ingenious ways of continuing his research by hiding items cleverly around his cell and using rats as his subjects. While progress has been slow, he’s recently come upon a breakthrough in the form of plasmatic energy which he can drain from one brain in order to recharge another, used together with the reagent, West believes that he will be able to not only restore life, but restore the faculties of the reanimated as well. His timing couldn’t be better because a new doctor named Howard Phillips (get it) has just joined the prison staff, and Howard believes in West’s work. Why? Well because he’s the young boy who watched a zombie murder his older sister thirteen years ago. Not only did he see the zombie, but he found a dropped vial of the reagent the police neglected to collect for themselves and has been studying it all his life, purposely seeking out the position as this prison’s doctor so that he’d be able to work with the infamous Dr. West. The two set to work in earnest, hoping to squeak past the notice of the prison’s sadistic, and moronic, warden, but a reporter digging into the story of the Miskatonic Massacre might just disrupt their plans and cause a threepeat zombie outbreak.

BR2

{This is not the face of a still sane man}

Beyond Re-Animator is the first Re-Animator film to have nothing to do with the original H.P. Lovecraft tale, thus the “beyond” part of its title. It’s also the first to have a really hard time figuring out what it wanted to be.  Re-Animator was a more serious horror film with some humor peppered in while Bride of Re-Animator went straight for the laughs. Beyond Re-Animator couldn’t seem to figure out which route it wanted to go, flopping around from serious to funny in a clumsy, off putting way that did little more than make it near impossible to become drawn in. It was like there were two directors, one wanting a comedy, the other a serious horror film, and they each took turns in the director’s chair, splitting the movie into two visions that couldn’t be resolved into one film. Awkward is the best word I can use to describe how it felt, there was no leading into the humor, you’d just have a serious moment and suddenly the humor would break in like it was trying to wreck the place, steal your stuff, and run off with your family. There was no finesse, no subtlety, just forced laughs, bad jokes, and a sense that no one was able to figure out what direction they wanted the movie to go. Of course, had they managed to find some sort of balance with their humor, it wouldn’t have helped much considering none of the actors seemed like they wanted to be there. I’m not saying they were terrible because lord knows I’ve seen much, much worse, but they just kind of phoned it in, their performances lacking any energy or enthusiasm. There is a scene where Dr. Phillips is horrified about something West is doing (the movie isn’t bad enough for me to spoil anything) and stands around screaming for him to stop it over and over again. The problem is that Phillips doesn’t seem all that bothered by it, yeah, he screams to stop, but with so little energy that it doesn’t look like it’s bothering him all that much, not to mention that he doesn’t actually move to stop it, just stands in place and yells like he’s only a little annoyed. Even the greatness that is Jeffery Combs couldn’t completely save this flick as he too seems to be phoning it in as well. I don’t know if he was just tired of the role or if the time between flicks made it hard to readjust (Bride and Beyond were made thirteen years apart), but this is probably one of his worst performances, really one of the only bad performances.

BR3

{And that’s saying something}

Much like Bride of Re-Animator before it, Beyond Re-Animator also gets a little tick down list of all the things wrong with it, or at least the things that bugged the hell out of me while I was watching:

–          How do the cops miss a giant syringe full of bright, glowing green fluid? That’s how Howard Phillips end up so interested in the reagent, not just because of the zombie that killed his sister, but because he saw the reagent fall out of West’s pocket and picked it up after the cops left it lying there. I would think after all the weird medical stuff going on, the cops would have been pretty interested in a syringe full of glowing green fluid falling out of the pocket of their chief suspect, but apparently bending over was too difficult to do, so they simply left it lying there where Howard would later find it.

–          The reporter trying to come up with a story in the prison is given way too much freedom. I understand the warden is an idiot, and he’s hoping to bone her, but letting a woman wander anywhere she wants in a maximum security prison full of men probably isn’t the best idea, and even the dumbest person could figure that out.

–          Speaking of how dumb the warden is, how about that time he got his entire ear ripped off and as he bleeds though the spot where the ear used to be, tried to get a blowjob from the reporter. Yeah, his ear comes off, he bleeds, he gets angry, then he acts like nothing happened and tries to get a bj. I’m guessing it was supposed to be funny, it was not.

–          This one damn near made me want to punch the television screen. There is a prisoner that is turned into a zombie later in the film. After he’s given the treatment that brings him back to life, he’s an insane raving zombie that’s pretty obviously crazy. Instead of putting him in a medical ward or sending him to a specialist, they put him back in general population with all the rest of the prisoners. Now let’s assume for the minute his obvious state of death wasn’t apparent, he’s still stark raving mad, but that doesn’t warrant anything more intensive than throwing him in the hole. I know the American prison system of “for profit” jails is broken beyond repair (hey, maybe that’s where they got the “Beyond” part of the title), but even our worst prison isn’t that bad, almost, but not quite. To make matters worse, he eventually escapes because of course he escapes, and somehow is able to wander the entire prison while not even bothering to try and hide, while he has half a brain (literally half a brain), and while the entire prison is on high alert, and nobody finds him. The warden and his guards are completely freaked out by his escape, but no one can find him as he meanders about with no attempt at stealth. If I had blood pressure, it’d be through the roof right now.

I know I’m being kind of nitpicky with some of this and reading way too much into what is otherwise a cheesy B-Movie, but even a half competent film maker should have been able to catch what a pretentious movie reviewer was bound to catch years later. I’m talking about some other pretentious reviewer of course, not myself…

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{Because that totally looks like someone you don’t need to watch}

Let’s be honest though, most fans aren’t going into this caring about the plot or the characters or if a zombified prisoner should have been quarantined better. No, most of us only care about one thing, the gore. Unfortunately, the gore takes a major step down for Beyond Re-Animator. For one thing, it takes way too long to get to the gory goodness. There is one scene in the beginning when the zombie escaping from West’s facility kill’s Phillip’s sister, which is extremely well done by the way, that zombie looks amazing, and then nothing for an hour. When we finally get to the gore again, it’s definitely creative and we see some imaginative designs done with a hell of a lot of bloody bits, but it’s also frequently lazy. Props are misplaced from scene to scene, anything more than makeup looks absolutely awful, and blood consistency was never done right (like a zombie ripping out a guard’s throat but then having no blood on his person). I liked some of the better effects like the “exploding man” (again, not ruining things) or the half man or the damn penis that developed a mind of his own, but they were generally done pretty poorly. What about the penis? Oh nothing, it’s just a zombified penis that makes its way around the prison and eventually gets into a fight with a rat.

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{Sadly, this is not representative of the rest of the movie}

Beyond Re-Animator is the worst in the Re-Animator trilogy, and it’s full of problems, but I’d actually still recommend giving it a watch. As bad as it is, the few times it does become fun make the movie worth at the very least a onetime watch. It won’t impress you, but it might make you smile a time or two.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Brian Yuzna (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Bride of Re-Animator)

Starring: Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, From Beyond), Jason Barry (Mirrormask, Titanic), and Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane, Santos)

Written By: Jose Manuel Gomez (Working Class, Red Mark) and Miguel Tejada-Flores (Revenge of the Nerds, Fright Night Part 2),

Released By: Lions Gate Films, Castelao Producciones, Filmax, and Via Digital

Release Year: 2003

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Rated R

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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