As a boy, Doctor Phillip Howard (Lovecraft's own initials
in reverse) witnesses the death of his sister by a re-animated
corpse. Years later he conducts his residency at a prison
where Herbert West, the mad scientist himself, is held. With
West as his assistant, Howard is soon well out of his depth.
A rat is the first subject of re-animation, followed by a
religious psychotic inmate. A woman reporter and the sadistic
prison warden also get embroiled in the mix. But when West
devises a way of capturing a person's life essence and transferring
it to others, chaos ensues...
Edgar Allan Poe is a better known writer, because of the many
film adaptations of his horror stories, H. P. Lovecraft is
for me a much better wordsmith from around that period. However,
his eerie other-dimensional beings and the grander weaving
of his tales make it considerably more difficult to commit
his words to the big screen. Re-animator and this sequel
are both very loosely based on Herbert West: Re-animator,
one of only a handful of Lovecraft's long short-stories which
can more easily jump to other media formats.
Lovecraft would be turning in his grave after witnessing this
debacle. I didn't know whether to laugh, cringe or sigh; these
were not emotions induced by the script or characters, but
rather more simple reactions to what is pretty much a mess.
The problem is that Beyond Re-animator can't decide
what to be. The gore for gore's sake belongs more in the eighties
age of so-called video nasties. Characters are brought back
from the dead, emerge insane, and then generally roam around
biting body parts off of various people. But what do you expect
from an effects technician called Screaming Mad George?
impression is that half the film was already in the can when
it was decided to emulate its predecessor with dark humour.
It's an obvious attempt at The Evil Dead without ever
approaching that film's status. Extras apparently consist
of a trailer, making of documentary, and cast and crew interviews;
although because mine is a preview disc sans extras, I can't
comment on their content.
film itself has two redeeming factors. The prison inmate who
pops pills like Smarties during a riot, injects himself with
the re-animation serum and continues his search for drugs,
despite his insides having exploded and resembling a viscera-covered
ghoul. When the film is over and the credits roll we see a
twenty-second sequence which is so hilarious the rest of the
feature pales into insignificance. A returned from the dead
rat has a stand-up fight with a bitten-off penis. Fisticuffs
and 'head'-butts galore! Why couldn't the rest of the movie
be this good? A wasted opportunity.