Re-Animator appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a surprisingly positive presentation.
Overall sharpness worked fine. While I couldn’t call this a razor-sharp image, it showed pretty good delineation and clarity, with only a few slightly soft shots. I witnessed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and no signs of edge enhancement occurred. I didn’t sense the use of digital noise reduction, as the flick featured ample – but natural – grain, and source flaws weren’t a factor. A speck or two cropped up, but nothing more than that.
Colors were decent to good. Much of the film took place in murky nighttime settings, and that diminished the impact of the hues. During brighter scenes, however, the tones worked pretty well.
Blacks delivered nice depth; those tones didn’t excel, but they appeared more than adequate. Low-light shots occasionally looked a bit thick, but that reflected the original shoot. In general, shadows were fairly clear. Ultimately, the transfer fared better than I expected and offered a mostly solid representation of the source.
The Blu-ray boasted a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix. Don’t expect the latter to reinvent the wheel, however, as it lacked much ambition. A few decent examples of localized audio or movement occurred, but a lot of the track stayed either centered or spread to the sides in a general way.
The music worked best in this regard, as the score featured good stereo imaging. Effects showed less breadth and failed to deliver much involvement, though they added a little pizzazz at times.
Audio quality was dated but decent. Though speech could be reedy, the lines were acceptably natural most of the time, and they showed good intelligibility. Music became reasonably lively and full.
Effects were also fine given the movie’s age and budget, as these seemed fairly concise and didn’t cause problems. This turned into a workable multichannel remix for a low-budget flick from the 80s.
Across this two-disc set, we get two versions of the film. In addition to an Unrated Cut (1:26:06), we find an Integral Version (1:44:56).
The “Unrated” film offered a shorter version of the theatrical Re-Animator, and apparently “Integral” offers a combination of those two cuts. I don’t know the film well enough to detail the differences, but I wanted to note the presence of both. I suspect fans will opt for the longer take.
Alongside the unrated version, we get three separate audio commentaries, the first of which comes from writer/director Stuart Gordon and Re-Animator: The Musical actors Graham Skipper and Jesse Merling. New to this release, all three sit together for their running, screen-specific look at the musical and comparisons to the movie.
Going in, I expected the actors to serve largely as moderators, participants who would prod Gordon about the movie and let him dominate. Nope – as it happens, Gordon becomes the junior partner and can barely get a word in edgewise.
Exuberant and irrepressible, the actors rave about the show and act out scenes. Almost no information about the film emerges, as the track concentrates strongly on the musical, and even then, we just hear what the show was like – we don’t get many insights about the production itself. The commentary bores.
For the second commentary, we get producer Brian Yuzna and actors Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton and Robert Sampson. Recorded in the 1990s, all five sit together for a running, screen-specific view of cast and performances, effects, locations and the like.
Though more “movie-specific” than the first track, this one still doesn’t tell us much of note. For the most part, the participants watch the movie, laugh and joke. Every once in a while they let slip a useful nugget, but for the most part, this commentary flops.
The third commentary involves director Stuart Gordon. Also from the 1990s, Gordon presents a running, screen-specific discussion of the project’s roots and path to the screen, the source and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, cinematography, sets and locations, editing, effects, music and related domains.
Finally – a good commentary! Actually, during the first 40 minutes or so, Gordon flirts with greatness, as he offers a great deal of worthwhile information. He loses steam as he goes, but Gordon still delivers enough substance to make this the only commentary you need to play.
Also alongside the Unrated Cut, we get an isolated score. This plays work in all its DTS-HD MA 5.1 glory. I like it as an addition to the package.
Disc One brings a documentary called Re-Animator: Resurrectus. It runs one hour, eight minutes, 36 seconds and features Gordon, Yuzna, Crampton, Abbott, Combs, Sampson, writer Dennis Paoli, special makeup effects John Naulin, John Buechler and Anthony Doublin, director of photography Mac Ahlberg, and actor Carolyn Purdy-Gordon.
“Resurrectus” looks at the film’s origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, various effects, the final film and its release. Inevitably, some of the information repeats from Gordon’s commentary, but “Resurrectus” still brings out a lot of new details and becomes an enjoyable ride.
Under Interviews, we get four segments. These come with Gordon and Yuzna (48:47), Paoli (10:41), composer Richard Band (14:43) and Fangoria editor Tony Timpone (4:34).
Gordon/Yuzna chat together and go over development/adaptation and other aspects of the production. Paoli covers his work on the screenplay, while Hand discusses his score. Finally, Timpone gives us memories of the film’s release.
As expected, Gordon/Yuzna repeat some of what he already heard elsewhere, but I like their interaction, and they throw out a good array of new details. Timpone’s chat seems superficial, but Paoli and Hand deliver lively thoughts about their work.
We hear from Hand during a 16-minute, 31-second Music Discussion. He relates thoughts about various cues and then we hear them. This would work better as a commentary, but Hand still relates a few insights.
From 2015’s “FrightFest” in London, Barbara Crampton in Conversation goes for 36 minutes, five seconds. Along with moderator Alan Jones, Crampton discusses her life and career, with a little time spent on Re-Animator. She proves chatty and engaging during this informative interview.
Next comes The Catastrophe of Success. It lasts 13 minutes, eight seconds and offers Gordon’s notes about his career in theater. This becomes a fun look at another side of the filmmaker’s creative life.
Re-Animator: The Musical becomes the focus of Theater of Blood. In this 12-minute, four-second reel, lyricist Mark Nutter chats about his relationship with Gordon as well as his work on the stage show. Nutter gives us a decent look at the topic – I’m not fascinated by the musical of Re-Animator but at least this one’s shorter than the commentary.
We get one Deleted Scene (2:40) as well as 16 Extended Scenes (23:05). The “Deleted Scene” offers a dream sequence in which Dan sees a dead Megan reanimated. It’s not especially interesting, but I always welcome more nude shots of Crampton.
As for the “Extended Scenes”, they flesh out character matters a little better, but they don’t usually add much of substance. We tend to see a lot more of Dan/Megan/Herbert, and we find additional shots of Dr. Hill’s power of persuasion. Again, not much of this feels meaningful, but it’s fun to see anyway.
Three sequences appear via Multi-Angle Storyboards. These allow the viewer to flip between the finished film and the storyboard. It becomes a decent view of the material, but it’d work better if it showed the art and the movie on the same screen at the same time.
Disc One completes with a Trailer, five TV Spots and a Still Gallery. The latter offers 41 shots from the film and becomes a disappointing set.
On Disc Two, we find A Guide to Lovecraftian Cinema. In this 54-minute, two-second piece, “HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast” host Chris Lackey gives us an overview of films that adapted Lovecraft’s material. Lackey offers a nice synopsis of the different works and makes this an engaging program.
Disc Two also presents Doug Bradley’s Spinechillers. This goes for 16 minutes, 31 seconds and allows us to hear Combs read the short story on which the film was based. I like the ability to compare the two and find this to be a good addition to the set.
A few non-disc-based materials complete the package. The main attraction comes from a 1991 comic book adaptation of Re-Animator, and we also find four postcards and a booklet with credits, photos and an essay from Michael Gingold. All of these add value.
Because it wears its influences on its sleeve, I feared Re-Animator would offer a stale, unoriginal experience. Happily, I found a creative, lively horror flick instead. The Blu-ray offered generally good picture and audio as well as a terrific set of supplements. This turns into a fine release for an involving movie.