Over 25 years after its release, Stuart Gordon's "Re-Animator" remains as popular as ever. The story of Herbert West's quest to bring the dead back to life is full of obsession, unforgettably gory moments, and a great dose of black comedy. Its most devoted fans made it out to a sold out showing of the film at New Beverly Cinema on August 28, 2011 where it played as a double feature with Gordon's follow up "From Beyond." Gordon was in attendance along with the special effects crew and actress Barbara Crampton who played Megan Halsey.
Talking with New Beverly Cinema's Julie Marchese after "Re-Animator" ended, Gordon said the movie came from the H.P. Lovecraft story "Herbert West: Reanimator" which was actually a serial of six stories. The author however hated this one mainly because he wrote it for money, but Gordon loved and described it as "pretty damn crazy." Gordon also wanted to do a "Frankenstein" movie as he felt there were too many vampire films already made (of course that's even more the case today).
Having started out writing, producing, and directing plays in Wisconsin, Gordon originally planned to adapt one or two of the stories to the stage. However, he and several others saw the potential in turning it into a miniseries. It was at first set in the turn of the century as a period piece, but they later decided to update and modernize the story. But Gordon was later encouraged make a movie from Lovecraft's work by producer Brian Yuzna as the only market for horror at the time was in feature films. Yuzna also encouraged him to put all six stories of "Herbert West: Reanimator" into the script instead of a couple.
As for research, the filmmakers talked with forensic pathologists who examine dead bodies to determine the cause of death. Gordon also took the cast to the Los Angeles morgue to see the work they did, and he remarked that pathologists truly have the "sickest sense of humor" of anyone he's ever met.
"Re-Animator" only had a budget of $1 million dollars and a shooting schedule of 19 to 24 days (the last day lasted 23 hours). For the serum, the crew used those "glow in the dark" sticks which are popular during Halloween and eventually went through 900 of them. Each one lasted 45 minutes, so the film had to be ready to shoot during that time. John Carl Buechler and John Naulin, two members of the movie's makeup department, also added that what's inside those sticks is very "acidic" and they had to work with them in a "completely closed system" for everyone's safety.
Since "Re-Animator's" release Stuart Gordon has become known mostly for his moniker of "more is not enough!" Even though the crew had 60 gallons of "blood" to work with, the director said he wanted more. But as gross as it is, it's a brilliant and deliberately cheesy horror film that captured the imaginations of horror fans everywhere. Its showing at New Beverly Cinema was evidence of just how many times people were willing to see it, and it even brought out the cast of "Re-Animator: The Musical." With the rise of Michelle Bachman, here's hoping that Gordon will finally get his chance to make his long brewing political satire "House of Re-Animator."
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