Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
WRITERS: Story by Miguel Tejada Flores
Screenplay by Jose Manuel Gomez
DIRECTOR: Brian Yuzna
STARRING: Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West
Jason Barry as Howard
Elsa Pataky as Laura
Enrique Arce as Cabrera
Nico Baixas as Moses
Lolo Herrero as Sergeant Moncho
Raquel Gribler as Nurse Vanessa
Simon Andreu as Warden Brando
Santiago Segura as Speedball
QUICK CUT: A scientist strives to continue his revolutionary work from behind prison bars.
Herbert West - Thirteen years in prison have not flagged his determination. He remains just as sure in his intelligence and rightness, and neither God nor morals shall stand in his way.
Howard Phillips - A doctor who has followed West's career for the last 13 years, and is eager to work with him. He thinks he wants to follow in the doctor's footsteps, but when push comes to shove, he still has too much of a moral core.
Laura Olney - A reporter who kinda stumbles into the plot, and she may or may not be using Howard to get to a story.
Warden Brando - A harsh man, maybe not even a good man, but there must be some of that to anyone running a prison. But where does the moral line fall?
THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions! As we have done the last few years here at Trisk, it is time to catch back up with the adventures of Herbert West, in the third and final movie in the series, Beyond Re-Animator!
The movie picks up the story 13 years or so after the end of the last movie, after a brief flashback establishing a young Howard Phillips and the tragedy that struck the night West was finally arrested.
See, one of the creatures reanimated by his latest reagent experiments wanders into the Phillips' home, and kills Howie's sister. He then watches as West is taken away by the police, but he finds a syringe of Mountain Dew left behind, and that leads him down the path to keep track of this guy.
...As an aside, did milk cartons even HAVE the now-ubiquitous plastic screw caps in 1990?
Things start off once we're in the present of 2003 in true Re-Animator fashion, with West capturing a rat and murdering it FOR SCIENCE! in his jail cell. He may be incarcerated, but he's still a scientist. We also continue this series' dislike of animals.
But that rat belonged to one of the other inmates, and he is very attached to his pet. One of the guards points to West as the culprit, and a rivalry that goes throughout the movie is born.
And that's when the new doctor arrives to the prison, and hey, it's an all grown up Howie Phillips! And yes. Howard Philips, as in Howard Phillip Lovecraft. Subtle.
Howie is brought to meet the warden, who is showing off the prison's electric chair to visiting reporter, Laura Olney. Oh, and the doctor has requested a certain other doctor in the prison to work in the infirmary. I'm sure that will go well!
Meanwhile, out in the yard, one of the inmates has a heart attack, so the doctor is immediately rushed off to work. He tries to save the patient, but they don't have what he needs in this place. West shows off his calm under pressure ways, and big brain, with a suggestion for an alternative.
But the patient dies, and oh well, I guess that's the end of Moses, because this is not at all the sort of movie where people come back from the dead!
West asks why he's there, and Phillips goes into a bit of exposition, and immediately explains who he is, and how he knows everything about West. I appreciate that we're not keeping any secrets.
So they try and use the 13 year old reagent Howie has kept all these years, but oh well, it's been too long, and Moses doesn't rise like a phoenix. NO wait, he does, it was just delayed. Whew, this would've been a short movie otherwise.
And just like every person ever brought back by this stuff, the man is crazed and violent. Not that you would really notice in a prison. The warden arrives, and Moses immediately falls to his knees and begs forgiveness. This says a LOT about the warden. He comes off as a hardass in the first place, as one must to run such a place, but you get the definite sense that he is very hands on in the discipline department.
Following the attack, the warden declares a lockdown, and West gets sent back to his cell, with an added 12 months to his sentence.
Oh, and Howie runs into Laura, and its love at first bite. They head off after the attack, and have dinner back at her place. And Phillips takes the time to be Doctor Exposition and explain his motivations. It's a solid moment, and doesn't feel too forced to have him dump all the Herbert West backstory on her like this.
Then we dive into SCIENCE MONTAGE! as team resurrection gets to work creating new reagent, and the new stuff West has been working on, to try and restore rational thought.
Some time passes, and Cabrera is finally going to take out West for what he's done to his pet rat. So West and Phillips decide they are ready for their first test subject; Ratty.
We get much more SCIENCE! as West explains that old bit about how the body loses a tiny bit of weight at the very moment of death, and he has found a way to harness this nano-plasmic energy, collect it, and hopefully transfer it, in hopes that this will be the missing component that will keep his reanimated creatures normal.
Fortunately, it works, they pass on the rat to Cabrera, and West gets to live another day.
Meanwhile, Laura has come back to the prison on the worst day possible, to continue work on her story. She bribes a guard to let her into Moses' cell in solitary, and this can't possibly go wrong.
The crazed inmate attacks, Laura calls out for help, and the warden shows up...only to get his ear chewed off.
Warden Brando beats down Moses, thinking he's killed him, and next he tries to make sure Laura stays silent, and agrees that it was justified. That darker side I mentioned earlier comes through though, as he dominates her, makes her beg, and bark, and starts to make her give him a blowjob.
Back in the lab, West decides he wants to put Ratty's NPE into Moses, to see if that will make him normal again, and Howie is against crossing the species barrier, even though its all just apparently energy.
And we get to see some of that classic West, the Herbert West of screw God, screw morals, and because SCIENCE! it is all for the good, and morality be damned.
But this all gets interrupted when the guards bust in with a body, and we find out Laura was killed down in the cell, and they're blaming Moses for it. And surprise, now that the woman he loves is dead, Howie is more AOK with experimenting.
Laura wakes up, and yep, she's just as freaked out and isn't quite as violent, but is still lashing out, albeit blindly.
The guards go to collect Moses so he can be declared dead, but he's wandered off. Cabrera finds him back in their cell however, and the inmate tries to eat Ratty.
He spits the rat out when the sergeant finds him, and the rat crawls all over and down his uniform, and confusion and fighting breaks out. Especially once Cabrera realises his cell is open, he releases the rest of the prisoners, and there's a riot going on.
The warden wanders to the infirmary to see how things are going, and finds their illegal resurrection lab. Not to mention, the reanimated Laura.
And much like in the first movie when West was discovered, he once again grabs the nearest item he can find, and clobbers the warden over the head with a microscope.
He's not quite dead though, which is good, since now West can harvest the warden's NPE and use that to normalise Laura, instead of the rat's.
And much like the rats, the nanoplasmic transfer seems to work, and Laura is okay! OR IS SHE?
A clue: She is not.
The riot reaches the infirmary, since Cabrera is not happy about Ratty, and sees Laura. But she suddenly turns violent, and fights back, then runs off into the chaos.
Howie pursues, and look, just gonna cut to the chase here. The transfer of energies is not as pure as West would like, as a bit of the warden's 'soul' for lack of a better word, is inside her.
And shortly, West will bring the warden back, with Ratty's NPE, and the warden becomes a dirty rat himself.
Running deeper into the riot probably wasn't Laura's best idea, but when the prisoners find her, she goes violent again, and kicks all their asses, leaving a few of them dead even.
West leaves the warden tied up for the inmates to find him eventually, but he uses his new rattiness to chew through the wires he's tied up with, and escapes into the riot, leaving a trail of violence and murder.
Oh, he also has a satchel filled with reagent, so uses some on the guard he just killed, before the bag gets stolen by a junkie inmate who starts injecting his living self with all the syringes.
And all of this is a wet dream for the warden, because he always felt death was too good for the inmates, and now he can prolong their suffering indefinitely.
West runs into Howard, still looking for Laura, and he finds out that West brought back the warden too. This is such a great scene between the two of them, that captures West's attitude perfectly, and how he just doesn't care, he just wants to SCIENCE.
The warden finds that missing piece of himself, and resumes his domination over Laura, and gets right back to where they left off. Although he should've left well enough alone, because now that she's part warden, she's the sort of girl who just chomps down and bites his dick off.
We are treated to a bunch of fun effects gags, with Cabrera being half the man he used to be, and crawling around, and attacking, as well as the junkie finally just exploding into a pile of gore.
Meanwhile, Laura's personality completely switches from sub to dom, and she takes up the warden's cane, going to town on Howie.
Everyone kinda converges in the electric chair room and has their fights, culminating in West electrocuting the warden in the chair, because if you're gonna have old sparky, you better use it!
And Howard is forced to kill his own girlfriend, with her alternating between begging and fighting. His position is such that his only choice is to cut her head off, and he loses it because of that.
West steals his ID badge, and uses it to sneak off into the night, and the sequels that never came.
Oh, and the movie ends, with Ratty and the severed penis having a fight during the credits. That...that's my cue to check out folks. I need to get...beyond Re-Animator.
Video: I was surprised this looks as good as it did. Yes, it's from 2003, but it's also kinda indie, and low budget, and those can sometimes look terrible. And I remember seeing this when it premiered on tv (I think before the release) and it looked kinda bad there too.
Audio: It has a pretty good mix.
Sound Bite: "Religion has nothing to do with this." Herbert West, summed up in one line.
Body Count: Much like the previous movies, things get a little muddy in the land of reagents and resurrections.
1 - Girl gets her brain bashed in right out the gates at five minutes
2 - Moses dies from a heart attack.
3 - Lauren gets killed by the warden
4 - Warden gets conked with a microscope
5 - Moses kills the guard
6 - And tosses another over the railing.
7 - Cop gets eaten by Moses
8 - Moses gets shot up?
9 - The warden gets electrocuted.
Best Corpse: Uhhh, I'm gonna say the half Cabrera. That was such a well done effect.
Blood Type - B-: There's quite a bit of blood, but it's very toned down from previous movies. It's still not shy about it though, has some great moments, and the gore and effects make up for things.
Sex Appeal: Lots of ladies going topless.
Drink Up! Every time you think the warden wants cheese.
Video Nasties: This one is a little different than the rest, since it is not an actual moment from the movie. Instead it's a music video made for the movie, and included on the DVD, called Move Your Dead Bones, by Dr. Re-Animator. The song is catchy as all hell, the video is AMAZING and I could write up an entire Trisk post just picking through the amazing campy weirdness of every single frame of this glorious thing. But also, if you want to see the rat fighting the penis, and see who wins? Go click this link where someone else uploaded that very thing.
Movie Review: This is a well made film. Brian Yuzna has had a few movies on Trisk already, and this is his most recent I've taken a look at. His craft has improved, and he makes the most out of a low budget. It's a little strange that West is sent to a Spanish prison, but that's just something you gotta overlook. And if you're along for the ride, that's easy enough to do. As always, Combs is the highlight here, and he's on top form here. West is such a clear character in his hands. The acting is solid enough, the science is just as dodgy as I want it to be, the effects are fun...I'm sure the movie is filled with plot holes, but the main ideas and themes are solid enough. Four out of five rats.
Entertainment Value: Again, Combs is a highlight. He's a blast to watch. But the warden steals the show. Once he starts going rat, he's just short of LITERALLY chewing scenery, and its wonderful. The movie knows exactly what it is, what it wants to be, and revels in being silly, fun, gory, camp. It's not as great as the original, but it's still a lot of fun, and I like how it continues the story, and expands upon it. Four out of five syringes.