Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

You know, you have to hand it to the “Re-Animator” franchise: Nearly 20 years after the release of the original, they still went ahead and made another one, and brought along original star Jeffrey Combs and “Bride of Re-Animator” director Brian Yuzna back for the ride, and managed to deliver a worthy third entry. What’s even more impressive is that the series survived the move from film in the ’80s to digital video in the ’00s: A lot of ’80s-era horror stalwarts like Yuzna (as well as others, like Frank Henenlotter and William Lustig) didn’t manage to transition particularly well into the digital era, largely because their aesthetic depended on the griminess of film. Here though, Yuzna manages to work around the limitations of the then-new format by framing his shots closely without forgetting to situate his audience, so we get a short-but-efficacious shots of the sets while Yuzna keeps his camera framed on the action, so you’re less distracted by the format. Additionally, Combs is just as good here as Herbert West: He sinks his teeth in from the minute we first see him onscreen, and his arc is surprisingly compelling (not to mention faithful to the events of the previous sequel, which is always appreciated by a purist fan like myself). There are some problems here and there (like some weak performances made even wobblier by poor dubbing), but the gore and special makeup effects are so gleefully demented, and the plot so surprisingly involving and off-the-wall bonkers, that you just go with it, flaws and all.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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