Beyond Re-Animator

Year 2003


Jeffrey Combs  as  Dr. Herbert West
Jason Barry as Dr. Howard Phillips
Elsa Pataky as Laura Olney
Enrique Arce as Cabrera
Simón Andreu as Warden Brando
Director - Brian Yuzna
Screenwriter - Jose Maria Gomez   

Beyond Re-Animator is the wildest of the three Jeffrey Combs Re-Animator movies. 

In this installment, Herbert West has been in jail for thirteen years because his friend turned "state's evidence" against him.  He's given up on getting out, but he hasn't given up on his "illegal experiments".  He's also found out something else.  To fully re-animate something so that it's not murderously insane, West needs to add his serum and a life force to the piece of meat.  Fortunately for the movie, West managed to come up with a way to collect this life force while he was spending three years in solitary.

Coming to the jail is an medical intern who is to be the jail's doctor (Jason Barry). His name is Dr. Howard Phillips as in Howard Phillips Lovecraft.  This lack of subtlety is indicative of the rest of the movie. In this movie, it's not a trite, bad thing but an exuberant, good thing.

Dr. Phillips asks for Herbert West to be his assistant.  Well, soon Herbert is the one in charge and the "illegal experiments" are in full swing. True to the past history of the re-animation process, this latest "improvement", the addition of a life force, isn't exactly a quiet success. In fact, it's a destructive failure. "It was just a theory," West explains in his deadpan way. 

Also typically, the side effects keep escalating. At first it's just one or two people ruined by West's actions. But before long, the whole prison is affected. And once the inmates break loose, so does the movie.  It can be argued that this is the best Re-Animator movie of the three.  For sheer action, it definitely is.

There are some good lines also and delivered as only Combs/West can deliver them.

To the warden as he gets ready to escape...
West: Early release program and I qualify.

To the strapped in warden as he gets ready to pull the switch on the electric chair...
West: Guilty as charged.

To the O.D.'d inmate "Speedball" who demands more serum even though he's already dead...
West: I think you've had enough.

What's good about the movie?  Some of the acting is perfect.  Simón Andreu as the evil Warden Brando who rules with an iron first is great.  The guards are good.  Inmate Moses Jones (Nico Baixas) manages to be both loathsome and pitiable at the same time.

The production values and special effects are better than you would expect for a movie like this.  By that, I mean check the names in the credits and you'll find that they're all Spanish derivatives.  Are these people Re-Animator fans or did the producer have to go in search of people looking for tax shelters in other countries because the movie wasn't good enough to attract any U.S. investors?

Since the movie is good, it was probably a cost issue. You know - "globalization".

The set looks to be a real prison and it's not exactly a cookie cutter layout.  This works out well.  I mean, in most movies one grey, concrete section of the prison looks just like another grey, concrete section of the prison.  But this prison has distinct areas so that you're never lost as to where the characters are in relation to each other.

There's some trademark great gore.  There are some original punishments.  The movie has horror in the form of twitching, severing, and the insertion of electrodes. There's also a Last House on the Left derivative which would be mundane if not for the fact that it becomes a running joke lasting well into the credits.  For details, and a spoiler, see the link.

The story is written in such a way that you aren't let in on what's going to happen before it happens so there is a bit of suspense.  For example, in one scene West is going to be knifed, shanked, whatever, in the "yard" because he killed an inmate's pet rat.  Will West get out of it or be killed himself?  If you're following the story, you know how you'd get out of it.  Will West come up with the same solution?  Only time will tell. 

There are some unique side characters.  There's the religious Moses (Nico Baixas) who gave me the creeps.  There's also the "druggie" Speedball (Santiago Segura) who'll take anything that will give him a high, even the serum. 

West is particularly notable for demonstrating what makes him tick during the scene with Speedball. Even though the fur is flying, the prison is burning, and West's life is in danger, when a live Speedball injects himself with serum, West has to stop and mentally record the effects of what his serum does on a living person.  It's completely in character.

What's bad about the movie?  The acting is the biggest problem.  The main female lead's not very convincing on the screen and her voice seems to be poorly dubbed.  The prison intern doctor is also weak as a lead.  When Jeffrey Combs is in control and above it all, he's great.  In the few scenes where he's frantic, the behavior goes against type and it rings false.

Don't expect any high concepts.  If you want that attempt, see the Bride of Re-Animator. Also, check out the original Re-Animator to fully enjoy the series.

There's some nudity. I don't recall any flagrant blashpemy.

This third "Re-Animator" is highly recommended.  But it makes the most sense and you'll get the most enjoyment out of it if you watch the other two Re-Animator movies first.

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