Beyond Re-animator (2003)

One from the re-watch pile…



Film: I have probably mentioned it before on this very site, but my very favourite movie of all time… not just horror… but my very favourite, number one favourite film of all time is the 1985 film, directed by Stuart Gordon and based on the work of H. P. Lovecraft, Re-animator.

I loved it from the first moment I saw it and it turned me on to the work of Lovecraft, and the gorgeous Barbara Crampton, and I really enjoyed the combination of zombie flick, mad scientist movie and actual drama about people’s lives.

At this time in my life I loved sequels too, but always prayed that they would never make more Re-animator films as it really felt like a cool complete movie, but Yuzna knew he was on a good thing so we have been treated to two sequels: Bride of Re-animator and this, Beyond Re-animator.

Beyond Re-animator find Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) interred in a cruel prison when a young doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) takes up residency in the infirmary.


Dr Phillips didn’t accidently end up there though, he deliberately sought out the place where West was imprisoned so he could have some questions answered about the death of his sister, at the hands of one of West’s reanimated subjects.

Of course, answers of this kind are easily found, and Phillips finds himself under the oppressive hand of an unpleasant prison warden (Simon Andreu) and an increasing amount of re-animated bodies, and that jail is not the best place to be trapped with them.

This was one of Yuzna’s Spanish created Fantastic Factory jobs, a company he was attempting to build into the new ‘Hammer’ in the late eighties and early 90s. A couple of good films came out of that, including the adaptation of the David Quinn/ Tim Vigil comic Faust and I don’t mind this so much either, even though it is pretty dumb at times.

Of course the highlight of this is Jeffrey Combs’ performance of Herbert West. He is the look down the nose, superiority complex king of mad scientists, for certain. The writing of his character lacks some of the charm of the first two outings, particularly the first, but it’s there, simmering under some below average scripting.

Unfortunately the co-stars suffer from a language barrio which makes their performances not bad, but certainly not quite ‘on point’. Don’t get me wrong, the prison characters are perfectly nuts, the warden deliciously evil and the love interest a feast for the eyes, but occasionally what they say just sits wrong.


The effects in the film are provided in part by Screaming Mad George so you know you are in for somewhat of  a treat with some of the effects.

All in all is a fun watch, but its just not great, and honestly waters down the character of Herbert West. Having said that, would I watch another one if one were made? Of course I would.

Score: **1/2


Disc: The reviewed copy of this film is the U.K.  Arrow Films DVD release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes and is present in a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic image with a matching 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: There are three extras on this DVD:

The Director’s Commentary with Brian Yuzna sees Yuzna himself talk about the film and its creation and is a fairly complete document of the film.

 All in the Head: Brian Yuzna and the Re-animator Chronicles  is an interview with Brian Yuzna about his career both with and without Herbert West. It goes for about an hour and is pretty complete.

There is also a trailer for the film.

The packaging is pretty cool though: there is an awesome The Dude Designs reversible cover (with the original poster on the other side) and a poster of the TDD cover as well. Calum Waddell has also leant his journalistic skills to a booklet which discusses the world of Lovecraft.

Score: ****


Society (1989) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Society (1989)

Arrow Films’ bluray of Society

Film: There is no doubt that David Cronenberg is the absolute king of body horror! Films like Rabid, The Fly and Videodrome are a doorway into a world where man is a pliable thing that can be manipulated. Brian Yuzna’s Society is the room that that doorway takes you to!

Yuzna is probably best know for producing the glorious horror film Re-animator, and got the bug to direct when he realised as a producer it’s hard to get money for a film if there is no director attached. When you intend on directing yourself, that’s not a problem.

… and there’s nothing wrong with Yuzna’s direction either! I am a great fan of some of his other films like Faust, Return of the Living Dead III and of course, Bride of Re-animator.

Did someone say Rottweiler? No? Good, let’s move on.

Society: Billy Warlock as Bill Whitney

Society tells of a young man, Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) who, like most teenagers, feel that something isn’t right in his life, even though he is a member of high society. He feels like his parents hate him, and that something is going on in his house behind his back. 

His suspicion is that his mother and father (Charles Lucia and Concetta D’Agnesse) are engaged in a sexual relationship with his sister (Patrice Jennings)

But it is so much more than that.

As the story goes on, Bill discovers that there may be a HUGE conspiracy involving his entire family, his schoolmates (including Devon Devasquez and Ben Meyerson) and other members of society… but it might be more than what he suspects…

Immediately one has to talk about the absolutely ridiculously amazing special effects work of Screaming Mad George, also know for his work on films like Guyver, Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and the aforementioned Faust. His work is surreal and cartoony, which fits this film perfectly, but it has an element of it’s elastic doughiness that’s really disturbing.

The story really has an underlying story about class distinction and prejudice, but the story, acting and effects are so over the top it’s hard to really get any message out of it, but who cares: it’s freaky as hell and great fun to watch!

Typically, Arrow have made a masterful copy of this film on an extras-filled disc that is just spectacular.

Score: ****

The menu screen to Arrow Films’ Society

Format: This film was reviewed on the Arrow Pictures bluray release which is multi region and runs for 99 minutes. The film is presented in a really great 1.85:1 images with an equally great stereo 2.0 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: As usual, Arrow have delivered on the extras front:

Governor of Society sees Brian Yuzna talk about not just the making of the film, but also the steps it took to get to actually get it made. Filmmaking sounds like it takes a LOT of patience to get through.

Masters of the Hunt is a featurette containing interviews with Billy Warlock, Devon DeVasquez, Ben Meyerson and Tim Bartel. It’s a nice bunch of recollections of their careers and experiences on the making of this film.

Champion of the Shunt talks to Screaming Mad George, David Grasso and Nick Benson about the special effects for the film. Being a practical effects nut, I found this extra particularly fascinating!

Brian Yuzna Q&A is just that, but taken after a screening of Society in 2014. the quality is average, but his stories are interesting.

Brian Yuzna – Society Premiere is archival footage of Yuzna at the world premiere of the film at the Scala Cinema in London, circa 1989. The quality of the film is a step down again, but it’s still co plenteous audible.

There is a theatrical trailer of the film.

Also, we have a Screaming Mad George music video which is as weird as one would expect, but still pretty cool.

The movie also has a commentary by Yuzna, hosted by David Gregory which is amusing and informative throughout.

This edition also has a reversable sleeve with original artwork on the alternate cover, and a pretty cool booklet with an article by Frightfest curator Alan Jones. Also included in a slightly lesser quality DVD release of the film.

One warning though: the ‘Society’ song being played on the menu screen gets real old, real quick!

Score: *****

WISIA: I hadn’t seen this film since probably 1990, and now I have it in my collection on bluray, I’ll be watching it probably monthly!

Society: Devon DeVasquez as… hang on, are her…?