I loved Re-Animator, but I haven’t seen it in years. Add to that the fact that one of my all-time favourite gross-out horror flicks is Brian Yuzna’s Society, and it’s clear that this was right up my alley.
I hate you, Chris Hemsworth.
Dr Herbert West has been in Arkham Penitentiary for thirteen years after a final murderous rampage by one of his experiments. The younger brother of the last victim is now a doctor and has got himself a job as the resident medic at Arkham, requesting West as his assistant so that he can learn more about the mysterious green reagent. Wackiness ensues.
Jeffrey Combs is one of the great unsung heroes of horror. He is right up there with Bruce Campbell in my book. As fun and as wonderfully gory as it was, the first Re-Animator wouldn’t have been quite as successful without Combs as Herbert West. He is now the only on-screen holdover from the previous films in the series and takes centre stage for this cross between Return of the Living Dead 3 and Cell 211.
Made in Spain using a mostly local cast and crew, Brian Yuzna tells this sweet little story about a man determined to beat death using neon green goo and a battery. Beyond also stars Jason Barry as the grown up Dr Howard Phillips and the stunning Elsa Pataky as his girlfriend, journalist Laura Olney. Both are fine in pretty standard genre roles, but there is no doubt the flick belongs to Combs. Simón Andreu overacts shamelessly as the sadistic and murderous Warden Brando (when was the last time a prison-set horror movie did not have a sadistic and murderous warden?), gleefully throwing himself into the midst of Screaming Mad George’s deliciously old-fashioned special effects.
Yuzna and his cinematographer Andreu Rebés have done a lot on a limited budget, shooting the prison as a gothic monstrosity that Lovecraft himself could have been proud of. The final act in particular – when the reagent gets out into the prison population – has some gorgeous camerawork, and Xavier Capellas’ score fits the black comedy mood well. The flick even gets a fantastically cheesy Euro-dance theme tune over the end credits. I bet it was a hit in Ibiza that summer.
Don’t be put off by the fact that Beyond Re-Animator first appeared on the Sci-Fi Channel. It may take a little while to get going once the prologue is out of the way, but this is a proper, old-school genre movie with a fantastic central performance and a lot of laughs amongst the copious blood and guts. Also, be sure you sit through the end credits. You don’t want to miss that…