Why not close out Lovecraft Month with a movie that stretches “based on the works of HP Lovecraft” well past the point of being a plausible claim.
In recent reviews, and as we continue to discuss movies based on the literary works of pulp horror/sci-fi author HP Lovecraft, the names Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon have popped up a lot. More specifically, the title Re-Animator keeps getting dropped into impolite conversation. The team of Gordon and Yuzna have enjoyed considerable acclaim from fans for their adaptations of Lovecraft material and for their ability to take Lovecraft’s work and make it something new without losing the essence of what made the story work in the first place. They did this in a number of ways, but probably the wisest decision they made was to confine themselves to the periphery of Lovecraft’s bibliography, selecting lesser known and all-but-forgotten stories rather than Lovecraft’s best known and most beloved. The first of the author’s story the duo chose to tackle was Herbert West, Re-Animator.
It wasn’t one that Lovecraft fans rallied around, so it would be less likely to get dissected or draw ire for departing from the source material. In terms of mind-bending weirdness, it was relatively straightforward, meaning that the filmmakers would not have to grapple with the more abstract horrors with which Lovecraft so often dealt. The resulting film, Re-Animator, is often heralded as a classic of American horror, combining the chills of Lovecraft with a black sense of humor, over-the-top gore, and something lurking beneath it all that means even amid all the mayhem and outrageousness, there’s something that just feels… icky. Almost sordid. Certainly unsettling. I’m not one to argue with consensus in this case; I think Re-Animator is fantastic. I think it’s a cornerstone not just of American horror, but horror in general. It’s a film that one can return to over and over without ever growing tired of it. And it’s amazing still what they were able to get away with. Over twenty years and at least as many viewings later, it’s still as shocking and gleefully unbelievable as it was the very first time I saw it.
So naturally, I’m not going to review that film.