Feature 115 – Herbert West, Re-Animator (2017)

or “Herbie Goes Bananas!”

Featuring: Emanuele “Wrath of the Crows” Cerman ; Rita “Fushigi Yugi Rusciano ; Alessio “Extreme Jukebox” Cherubini

Director: Ivan “The Shunned House” Zuccon

Writers: Ivan “The Shunned House” Zuccon ; Gerardo “Wrath of the Crows” Di Filippo & Roberta Marrelli

Origin: Italy


“If life breaks your heart, you break life.” – Herbert West

Hey everybody, have you heard the news?! Anubis is back in town! Yes, your Death God boyfriend is back and there’s gonna be trouble. But what would 2020 be without MORE FUCKING TROUBLE!? Seriously. This year has been one of the biggest, brownest skidmarks in mankind’s history. Well, maybe not all of mankind’s history, but definitely bigger and browner than anything in the last hundred or so years. Well, I’m here to help usher in a new era of positive vibes and cool buzzes to help distract you, my faithful readers (who never gave up on me during my blah blah blah), from the downpour of nails and lug nuts that has been the year-so-far! Not all heroes wear capes…though I am partial to sick headdresses with my likeness ensconced upon them if you’re wondering what to get me for The Tomb’s upcoming 7th anniversary. *wink*wink*

In honor of today being Fathers’ Day and all, I thought what better movie to review than one full of familial dysfunction?! I was guided to this low budget Italian production by the phantom hand of a now forgotten face on the Joe Bob Briggs Drive-In Mutant Collective Facebook group. I was delighted as Hogzilla in a Golgothan mosh pit to find this new-to-me movie awaiting my eager peep orbs on Tubi, emblazoned with English subtitles and everything! Anyone who knows me, I mean really knows me (so family and casual friends are out on this one), knows that I have a long standing love for that ’80s beacon of horror and dark humor, Re-Animator. Not a like, not an enjoyment, not a fondness for, but a hunka hunka burning-brighter-than-the-brightest-star heaping helping of pure and perfect LOVE. As such, you’d understand if I went into today’s feature with some heavy bias and unabashed scrutiny from yours truly.

Given its relatively young freshness date and ready availability for free and easy viewing to anyone with an internet connection, I won’t be deep diving this one, so as to not stray into the gaping maw of the Spoiler-ana Trench. I do offer a single word (well, more than a single word) or warning though: check both your coat and your expectations at the door before entering this one, kids. Now, sally forth!

Herbert West wanted only the best for his daughter Eleanor. With her mother apparently suffering the same mysterious and unexplained fate as most mothers in Disney movies (except Bambi’s, of course… oof), said single parent sent his dear offspring to a fancy arts school to hone her craft as a violinist. Unfortunately for everyone involved, El ended up offed a la Frankenweenie, mowed down in her adolescent years by a car. Whether the girl or the driver is to blame isn’t quite clear, but the accident put poor poppa through the proverbial wringer. So devastating was the incident that it pushed him to use a familiar neon green tinged fluid to make like Motley Crue and kickstart her heart.

Okay, Zack Morris time stop here. I know I said I’d go softcore on the spoilers, but I have to put this out there. Whether the movie just expects you to have an already intimate knowledge of the mythos behind Herbert West’s corpse jumpin’ juice or Ivan Zuccon chose to not try and explain the science of it in favor of focusing more time on the movie’s more “offbeat” story beats instead, there’s very little explanation as to how Herbert came to create such a concoction or what exactly his scientific expertise is. So, if you’re like me and enjoy a bit more science in your mad science movies, don’t expect that here. Moving on!

After repeated failed attempts to bring his little girl back as something other than a violent, raving savage, West’s efforts eventually bear fruit and El recovers her “soul”, making her whole and able to return to her violinist pursuits like nothing happened! Yay! Happy ending! Goodbye everybody!

Nah. Nothing’s ever that easy. In fact, it instead leads to all manner of weirdo craziness and estranged familial awkwardness in this daddy daughter dance of death. Ellie opts to live a normal life (until that weirdo craziness kicks in) and Herbie continues his efforts to perfect his serum, conquer death, and maybe reunite with daddy’s little girl in time for her big career making recital! He’s basically Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2 if you think about it…and squint a little…and stretch the metaphor beyond all semblance of its conceivable elasticity…like I do when I wear my thong (for formal occasions)… Anyway, as if family drama and bare knuckle boxing with the Grim Reaper wasn’t a hard enough balancing act for our pair, a very familiar looking man with thick glasses, a white coat, and a very severe haircut has found his way into the mix. Who is this mystery man (pray to Isis it’s not The Spleen) and what does he have in store for our waning Wests? Twenty bucks says you have no fucking clue and may still not by the time the end credits roll.

Remember that bias and scrutiny I threatened several paragraphs ago? Those went out the window (along with my pants, which I said I would never need again) at the beginning of HB,ReA‘s third act. Sometimes, in the process of comparing oranges, you get to the peeling part and discover that one of them is actually an apple underneath the skin! This is what happened to me. Kudos to Zuccon and friends for turning one of the least “Lovecraftian” of H.P.’s stories into a final stretch feast of the writer’s more eclectic and eldritch hallmarks! Rather than try to ape the magic of Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli’s b-movie milestone, they took the ball and ran completely off the field, out of the stadium, and tossed it into a trans-dimensional void of surreal bullshit I did not see coming! Once more…

(30 bars worth!)

Unfortunately, if you’re like me and prefer your cinematic experiences to be more straight-forward with you, HB, ReA is not the droid you’re looking for. It’s very “thematic”. You know, everything is a metaphor for loss and grief and duality and potato chips and so on and so on into infinity and (from) beyond. Whether it does so particularly well or not isn’t generally part of my “bag”, so I decline to judge the movie on those merits. For my specific intents and purposes though, it’s an enjoyable use of 90-ish minutes. Though amateurish (moreso in some areas than others), it sticks relatively reasonably to its budget and doesn’t go overboard with big ideas it can’t afford. Granted, there’s some dodgy green screen that’s aesthetically nauseating, but these visual farts are fleeting and few and far between… -ing?

For my fellow gore whores afraid that my last statement relates to the blood and guts, fear not as those effects are of the practical persuasion! No Photoshop squibs here, my dears, just good old glop and slop and slippery discharge! And for a movie about people being repeatedly killed and brought back to life, the sticky red stuff is plentiful. Though it’s more of a three-and-a-half movie for me, I’m rounding down rather than up and sticking with 3 hearts for Herbert West, Re-Animator. I cheer its makers for doing something different with the source material, but its shortcomings still come up, well, short. Zombie Billy Barty with his legs lopped off at the knees type of short. Bet Hel, it’s still worth at least one ride on the merry-go-round of madness. Anub Bob says “Check it out!”

Now, as good as it is to be back in the eponymous saddle, I need to don my mask and run some errands. Bastat needs a new scratching post (before she turns my bed into an orgy of shredded stuffing and flesh piercing springs), I need some more Baconator Pringles, the mirth mobile needs a run through the car wash, and I need to see about unearthing a copy of Extreme Jukebox. If I could actually start turning a profit on this damn website, I’d be able to write off my physical media purchases as a business expense, damn it. Oh well, pasta fagioli, folks!

The Wrap-Up Totals_____
(NA for spoiler reasons)

Moral of the Story: There are worse things than death… like Chairman of the Board… or a mouth full of okra slime. *BLART*


Some people are taking this “social distancing” thing too seriously!

“No, Daryl! I told you, no good morning kiss when you’ve got coffee breath!”

Weebs, please recognize the warning signs of Roji Panty Complex before it’s too late. Don’t let your lust for hentai lead you to an embarrassing death-by-nosebleed.

Her final thoughts? “Tiger mom will kill me for breaking my strings!”

And THAT is why I’ll never agree to babysit a girlfriend’s kids ever again.

If I had a dollar for every time a woman gave me that look after seeing my penis, I’d have… twelve dollars?

“Did you get my pic? I know, right?! Mine puts your so-called ‘Brownaconda’ to shame! Who’s Queen Turd now, bitch?! LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!”

“Every month I settle in for a hot soak to calm my cramps and every month I wake up sharing the tub with Aunt Flow. Just call me ‘Liz Bathory’ I guess. Uggh.”

Another Gushers related fatality. She just wasn’t ready to experience that much fruit flavor. Notify the next of kin.

Herbert’s friends weren’t thrilled when it came his turn to host “Wednesday Night Wine & Games”, because he always insisted on playing Reverse Russian Roulette.


Anubis will return next time in

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