Dir: Stuart Gordon
Star: Jeffrey Combs
, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton
, David Gale
This was the first '18'-rated film I ever saw at the cinema, and continues to hold up, twenty years later; the mix of horror and black humour which permeates the film, yet remain in complete balance, is quite brilliantly executed. It was the first film which showed me that splatter could be fun, and it remains one of the standards besides which all other genre entries are measured. The concept is, of course, totally ludicrous, and I'm pretty sure that HP Lovecraft would not recognize his story, outside of the lead character's name, Herbert West. He returns from Switzerland under dubious circumstances, but continues with his medical experiments to resurrect the dead at Miskatonic U, assisted (somewhat unwillingly) by room-mate Dan (Abbott). However, his teacher, Dr. Hill (Gale) lusts, not only after West's discovery, but Dan's girlfriend (Crampton). Severed-head oral sex ensues.
It's lurid, excessive and played brilliantly straight by all concerned, in particular Gale and Coombs, delivering with relish lines like, "Dr. Hill, I'm very disappointed in you. You steal the secret of life and death, and here you are trysting with a bubble-headed coed. You're not even a second-rate scientist!" In contrast, Abbott and Crampton appear to be in a different film, yet the tone is impeccably maintained by Gordon. It builds to one of the most grand guignol finales ever, in which a man's intestines leap out of his chest and... Well, you've gotta see it to believe it. Definitely an all-time classic, rarely matched before or since. At time of writing, rumour is circulating about a fourth entry, with Gordon directing, in which West is called to the Whitehouse to re-animate the President. Can't wait.