Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
devincf

Episode 84: RE-ANIMATOR

  

289 members have voted

  1. 1. Is RE-ANIMATOR Canon?

    • Yes!
      144
    • Call time of death on this one.
      145


Recommended Posts

This is a no, but-

 

I found this podcast right after the Goodfellas episode came out and have listened to every episode since and this is my first time voting. I just wanted to tell Devin and Amy thanks for all the good shit and for turning me onto a bunch of movies and film makers I knew very little about beforehand.

 

Anyway, I agree with Devin that a movie being fun is enough for it to be in the canon but I didn't find Re-Animator fun enough.

Share this post


Link to post

I voted yes, but it was a softer yes than I anticipated. While I disagree with Amy’s main point of “this spot is filled” in the Canon, she did raise some good points that started me rethinking REANIMATOR’s larger impact on film. Yes, it’s a personal touchstone for me and others like minded, and for some that would be enough to argue that it Canon worthy. And I do think it is finely crafted and executed for the budget they had to work with. But how much of an impact did it really have on film afterwards? Sure, genre fans point to it as a highwater mark and we all get warm and fuzzy everytime Combs or Crampton pop up in a movie. But how many trends and imitators did it really spawn in film in the decades since? Full on gore effect movies were already in full swing when this movie hit so it didn’t kick off that trend. Combs’ Hebert West may be an all time great among cinematic Mad Scientists, but its not like we got a new flood of Mad Scientist movies after it (at least anymore than there were before in the 80’s). Yes, this was the exposure to HP Lovecraft for younger viewers and it certainly among the best adaptions (to a point, HP was not a funny man, that’s what Gordon brings to the table). But most of that legacy are films that only proved Lovecraft is very hard to adapt to film. If REANIMATOR was the Everest of HP adaptions, then the mountain is littered more with the bodies of those who couldn’t survive the climb than it is good movies. I think the movie is great at what it does (especially compared to most gore movies of the 80’s, which stop trying at the gore effects) but it’s impact feels kind of singular when you take a step back. There’s no shared cinematic universe of mythos Elder gods on the horizon (well, yet).

 

So back to my yes vote then. While I question it’s legacy, the film being singular wonder that even its own sequels couldn’t recapture IS an amazing thing in of itself. There still isn’t quite anything like it. I don’t see the Cronenberg comparison just because its “body horror” or even the Raimi comparison. That because, while I agree at points that Devin went more on the defensive side of things, his point on tone can’t be swept aside : it really is a miracle to pull off, considering the subject matter includes all kinds of offences to the human body, living or dead. I see a different filmmaker’s vision when I watch this and it’s a good one that stands out amongst its peers and transcends it’s budget limitations (to me at least). So yes for the Canon, though I’ll understand if it doesn’t make it.

 

All that said, the podcast left me with an urge to play “Let the River Run” over the beginning and ending credits next time I watch REANIMATOR. Unknowable Lovecraftian urges indeed.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

 

Devin always does that. When he has a movie he likes he always bullies Amy and cuts her off when all she is doing is trying to have a discussion and state her opinion.

 

To be clear, I wasn't attacking Devin's personality. It's fun to have contested episodes. I'm criticising his rhetorical strategy: Instead of keeping it a bit calmer and trying to come up with some smart arguments, it felt like he was transforming into a 14-year-old spoiled teenage douchebag. That makes for good entertainment during the first 10 minutes, but afterwards I became annoyed by this behavior. Also, he wasn't able to listen, think and make any kind of counter-arguments to what Amy said. Since this was an indulgence episode, I would have loved to know Devin's personal reasons, why of all the films in the world this one is specal to him- there MUST be some kind of interesting story behind this, somthing to connect with. This way, I might have been able to feel some empathy with him and with the film. Instead, we got this distancing "Grand Guignol"-garbage, which tries so hard to elevate Re-Animator into something that this film simply isn't. This made him look really inauthentic in my eyes. Therefore, all the follow-up arguments kind of rang false as well. And, since this is basically one of these bro-films, he came across like that one kid in school who desperately tried to be cool. Yes, I think my point comes down to this: Sometimes, Devin's trying too hard, instead of just doing his thing.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

RE-ANIMATOR is a classic and one that truly transcends the minimizing asterisk of the "cult" prefix by virtue of its surprising aforementioned accessibility and remarkable entertainment quotient.

 

I've been a huge fan of all things Badass Digest, Birth.Movies.Death. The Canon, etcetera since their inception but (shamefully) I have heretofore been content to stand idly by and not contribute to the Earwolf forum here in any way, shape or form as so many beloved and special films' fates have been decided. Entirely complacent and passive and dismissive of the potential significance of my own single voice and vote....until today. Here and now, I have just cast what is - at present - a crucial tiebreaking vote in support of RE-ANIMATOR's inclusion in The Canon. (#205, Total/#103, Yes) Such is the power and the worth and the passion compelled by this film! I was called to action and there was no way I could not have heeded the call!

 

The fact that RE-ANIMATOR happens to be such an out-and-out blast cannot and should not be held against it in an effort to bar its entry! It's tons of fun but it has a big, bloody brain in its (severed) head.

 

It's not EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN. It's not CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. It's not THE FLY. It's not THE THING. None of these incredible films are the other, for chrissakes. RE-ANIMATOR is very much its own wonderful thing and PRECISELY that which it sets out to be as a screen story.

 

Such matters as its similar vintage, graphic violence, sense of humor, envelope-pushing nature, effects work, genre/subgenre and so on are purely incidental. I wish there was more chronological distance between its creation and that of those other films held in contention with it so that such a wrongheaded argument couldn't be constantly used as such a convenient crutch.

 

At the end of the day, the prospective addition of RE-ANIMATOR to The Canon only adds notable value to The Canon. Nothing about The Canon is in any manner diminished or devalued by the incorporation of this major work. The vaunted and esteemed standards and pedigree of The Canon staunchly remain unchanged and sacred!

 

And again, there's no such thing as too much fun. In life, in love, in film, in music, in The Canon - anywhere. And fret not, Ms. Nicholson, The Canon knows no numerical limit! You've both said so yourselves. Thus, there's always plenty of room for PENNIES FROM HEAVEN. Just make sure to file it next to WORKING GIRL when it gains admittance.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I gotta say, I'm picking this one because if it was the end of the world, and all I had was Canon movies, I would want this one to be there. I think that's how I'm gonna think about it from now on.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

I voted no.

 

Re-Animator is good, but Evil Dead is more fun, Phantasm is weirder, and Dead Alive has better gore. For me, the real bright spot of Re-Animator is Barbara Crampton, who's great.

Share this post


Link to post

I was so close to being swayed by Amy towarda no, but ultimately I have to go soft yes on this one. Everything Devin said about the film is absolutely correct. The movie walks the line between serious horror and campy schlock perfectly. And I do think a good Lovecraft movie should be in The Canon. So soft yes from me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Also, that conversation about the internet towards the end was so funny- Devin and Amy doing peak banter. Great stuff.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

At the end of the day, the prospective addition of RE-ANIMATOR to The Canon only adds notable value to The Canon.

 

 

But what specifically? It's not a bad movie, but what does it actually add to the canon? What about this film is exceptional, something that no (or few) other films have done? What can we learn from Re-Animator about cinema, or life, or really anything? Does it teach us that lesson in some special way that's really awesome? Why does it deserve to be remembered?

 

Just because you can't have too much fun doesn't mean that anything that's fun is a great movie. Fun does not imply or mean anything other than fun. It's just not the same thing as being truly great, and there are plenty of truly great films that are also fun. So let's add them, not this.

 

It's like someone told us they'd pay for every meal we ate for the rest of our lives regardless of price, and instead of going for truly great cuisine from all around the world, we just keep eating gas station hot dogs because they're familiar. It makes no sense given that we can and should eat anything we want. Fine, eat a hot dog every once in a while cause they're tasty, but at least make it the best hot dog you can find. We don't have to settle for anything!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Hard no for me. First watched this about a year ago shortly after reading the story (I feel like I've been reading my copy of the full Lovecraft works longer than Cthulhu has existed). While I was surprised by how well it adapted the source material, it's still not a great movie. There's some fun stuff in it. The blood and gore being much of it and I sort of love how draggy this Herbert West is, but I mostly found this really boring. I appreciate that some find it really fun, but there are just so many more movies that a person could spend their time watching.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Edited post because now I feel bad for criticizing. Film aside, I was frustrated with Devin's argument style. I did go and rewatch "Re-Animator" after this, and would still vote no. It's fine, but I disagree about the pacing - not enough actually happens in the film.

Share this post


Link to post

It's like someone told us they'd pay for every meal we ate for the rest of our lives regardless of price, and instead of going for truly great cuisine from all around the world, we just keep eating gas station hot dogs because they're familiar.

 

Haha, this reminded me of when I used to say (sadly, on a dating profile) "I can enjoy dinner from a fine restaurant or from a Tijuana street taco stand with equal joyous fervor, and understand why each is brilliant in its own way."

 

There's room enough in the canon for foie gras and street tacos. (Hell, up to me I would put Fast & Furious 5, 6, and 7 on the shelf right next to Kubrick or Felini any day.) There is a character, a quality, that does single out Re-Animator above other (generically putting it) '80s horror; and horror in general.

 

I'm not sure why it's been difficult for some of us (myself included) to articulate. Maybe it takes a subtle appreciation to notice it. Like, a person observing from the outside would say "all Ramones albums sound the same", but someone who actually listens to them can hear the distinct difference between the Tommy period, the "reaching for pop-status" albums, the hardcore/metal-influenced period, and the later loose post-Dee Dee material.

 

I have spent most of my life defending the Ramones, but have never been put in that spot with Re-Animator before. It's mostly been accepted among my group of friends as one of the greats. Needless to say, as a fan of horror in general, Re-Animator does stand so far above much of the schlock that fills the genre. And part of the reason might be because simply because sometimes something as simple as "fun", especially not idiotic fun (thought, arguably, there is a place for that as well) has value in itself.

 

I mean, have you watched Anthony Bourdain? The greatest bliss he achieves on episodes is never from fine dining establishments, but always when he gets food from rickety stands and run down shacks. I'm getting hungry now.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

The arguments for and against are all compelling. I really want to write a ten-page essay here about the value of certain genre films, as that is my main area of expertise as a cinephile, but I’m not narcissistic enough to assume anyone cares. This really boils down to one simple thought: Are we allowing genre films into the Canon (the answer is obviously yes), so why wouldn’t we include one of the best genre films out there?

 

I get it. We already have Cannibal Holocaust, Evil Dead 2, The Thing, and now, possibly Re-Animator. The rub is, while all of those are indeed horror genre films, they’re all VERY DIFFERENT films. There was a conversation in the episode about whether or not we should let in more westerns, and the consensus seemed to be yes, we should—because you can make many different, many great kinds of westerns. How impossibly illogical is it to conclude the same cannot be said for horror and gore films?

 

I truly wish not to sound condescending, but anyone who thinks Evil Dead 2 and Re-Animator are the same movie is bringing an insanely flawed perspective to the table. They’re both horror and gore films from the 1980s, but that’s about where the similarities end. That’s why it’s frustrating arguing with people about genre films who are new to it (what Devin was talking about with “ignorance”). No knowledgeable person of the genre would ever conflate the two.

 

Now, if you’re going to be biased against including these types of films into the canon, fine. I totally get that. But if you’re on the fence and have no qualms with genre inclusion, make sure you recognize Re-Animator as one of the best of the bunch and vote accordingly.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

There's room enough in the canon for foie gras and street tacos.

 

I totally agree, but that's not exactly what I'm getting at. It's more about choosing the good street tacos and refusing to eat the bad (or even mediocre) ones because why would you: there's nothing limiting you.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

It's the street taco you eat because it's the most edible one on your street, not because it's the best ever. If someone never happened to eat the Re-Animator taco it would be no great tragedy.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Was a no before listening and then Amy's argument really pushed it over the edge for me. It's a "fun" schlocky movie, yes, but it just feels so bare boned to me. Perhaps because I first saw it as an adult and not during my formative years as a film fan does nothing from it resonate with me.

 

Personally, if we're talking 80s campy horror, I'd much rather be into a discussion and the Canon entry of An American Werewolf in London. Seeing both those movies for the first time later on in my life without nostalgia and around the same time as each other it was really like night and day. I appreciate what Re-Animator means to it's fans, but I just can't reason this one out.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

A bunch of Devin's arguments this episode felt lacking.

 

Sure, this may be the best Lovecraft adaptation, but the bar for that is pretty damn low. I don't think this should be a criterion. I mean, the best Lovecraftian genre film works aren't even adaptations but things like ALIEN, THE EVIL DEAD, THE THING (sensing a theme here?), or THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. If we're looking for body horror, Cronenberg is the master there and THE FLY or VIDEODROME would be shoe-ins for the canon (well, the former if it weren't up against the aforementioned THE THING). Tonally, maybe there's something else here, but it's honestly not too far off the mark of anything listed here - and these are all far superior, historic, and influential.

 

All the talk that this film is "the definitive" for certain actors too doesn't cut it. No offense to them, but these aren't exactly profilic players in the history of cinema. Barbara Crampton might even be better known for soap operas than for being a scream queen. Stuart Gordon's greatest achievement might be co-writing HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS. And I can't even think of anything else Jeffrey Combs has been in. (Looked it up, he was in some of the Star Trek series.)

 

The recent line of conversation has been about if you wanted to show an alien the best, most influential, most representative films of human cinema. Is this the best? No, as discussed earlier in this post. Is this influential? Outside of genre devotees like Devin, no - which is counter to what you could say about films like ALIEN or THE EVIL DEAD films in their influence on cinema as a whole. Is this representative of film overall or a particular period/place/idea? Possibly, but it's so niche. Meanwhile, something like EVIL DEAD II or THE FLY hit that niche while transcending the niche.

 

I really want to emphasize THE FLY here. Obviously the tone is different (comedy versus drama), but think about the big thoughts and themes that THE FLY is dealing with. The death of oneself, losing one's mind, losing loved ones. As Amy said, RE-ANIMATOR has opportunities to make thematic points like its forerunner FRANKENSTEIN does about humanity and life, but just doesn't take the shot. Yes, I can hear people saying "but it's not trying to, it's trying to be fun" - but there are plenty of fun movies out there that do it all and thus deserve being in The Canon of the all-time greats.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I totally agree, but that's not exactly what I'm getting at. It's more about choosing the good street tacos and refusing to eat the bad (or even mediocre) ones because why would you: there's nothing limiting you.

It's the street taco you eat because it's the most edible one on your street, not because it's the best ever. If someone never happened to eat the Re-Animator taco it would be no great tragedy.

 

I think we've taken the taco analogy about as far as it can go.

 

Hahaha, fair enough points all. I still think Re-Animator is a damn fine taco; a cut above the rest.

This is definitely a nail-biter. Pretty much 50/50 down the line. I'm curious to see how it will turn out over the rest of the week.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Tough one, but I'm going to go "no". I just don't think it quite earns a place in what should be a highly-selective list that is representative of all cinema. It's a good movie, it really is, especially for the budget, but there are better horror films from the same era that are either already in The Canon, or were put up and lost out. I agree with Amy that this part of The Canon is getting close to full. There's room for Halloween, or maybe a Living Dead, but, like with the indie/arthouse 90s, I've about had my fill for now; horror's not my bag. I'm Team Small Canon, so unless it's a film that directly represents me and what types of films I get the most out of, I'm keeping the bar set high.

 

Enough horror/sci-fi/monsters (three of the last four episodes have been about this, in one way or another), enough 80s and 90s (seven of the last eight), and enough American films (73 out of 84 episodes, with two episodes counting for one-half each); at least start pulling back on the reins for a bit. I'm eager to get back to other types of films from other countries in other eras. Yes, I'll wager a disproportionate number of listeners (and Devins, especially) were raised on these films, but The Canon is paradoxically starting to feel smaller and smaller the more films that get put in.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

It's for personal reasons, but this movie has been too influential on my life to not go yes.

Share this post


Link to post

I voted no. I have never in my life recommended the movie because I feel everyone I know that would love it, has already seen it. It's just too niche of a film, more so than Evil Dead II.

 

I agree with this completely.

 

This was my first time seeing the movie. I'm sort of catching up on things after 20-some years in the Evangelical Christian bubble, and I'm really glad I watched it. It's fun and I really really liked it. But I'm with Amy. Just because something fun, doesn't mean it needs to be in the canon.

 

One thing this movie did though, was present the Frankenstein story in the most immediate way I've ever seen. The escalation from cats to human corpses to the recently deceased father of the "hero's" girlfriend was absolutely perfect. But while it's great to see a story done better than I'm used to, those themes of conquering death don't really pay off. West and Cain both hate death. Their creations are...abominations? Not quite. Soulless? One of them, but he never seemed to be fully human. Basically, I'm with Amy. The movie hits a lot of the right notes, but there just isn't enough payoff for me to call it one of the greats.

 

But I'll totally revisit this with the one person I know who likes it!

Share this post


Link to post

 

 

 

Hahaha, fair enough points all. I still think Re-Animator is a damn fine taco; a cut above the rest.

This is definitely a nail-biter. Pretty much 50/50 down the line. I'm curious to see how it will turn out over the rest of the week.

 

There are more votes for either side of this poll than total votes in the KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE poll.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×