Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

The golden age of the direct-to-video movies was long passed by the time Beyond Re-Animator, the second sequel to Stuart Gordon's classic Lovecraftian horror film Re-Animator, came out.  The reason it did, like Bride of Re-Animator over a decade before, is because someone gave director and producer Brian Yuzna some money to do another film in the series.  This time it was Fantastic Factory, a Spanish production company that had previously backed Stuart Gordon on his adaptation of Lovecraft's Dagon.  Due to this all film locations were in Spain and a good portion of the cast were Spanish actors.

Unlike the first two films this one never was intended for theatrical release - though it did get a brief one- and, being just before everyone had widescreen televisions, was filmed for DVD release in the old pan-and-scan format.  Something like this now would have a bit of a bigger budget and would have gone direct to streaming, and even for its time it seems like a throwback to the 1990s.  Despite this, and despite being the most unnecessary movie in the series, it is still quite entertaining. 

After one of Herbert West's (Jeffrey Combs) experiments gets loose and kills a teenage girl West is imprisoned.  13 years later a new doctor named Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) takes over as the prison's physician.  The prison itself is run by the dictatorial Warden Brando (Simón Andreu), who delights in punishing prisoners and, whenever possible, carrying out their death sentences.  The same day Dr. Phillips arrives Brando is being interviewed by reporter Laura Olney (Elsa Pataky).

Much to Brando's displeasure Phillips and Olney hit it off.  Laura, however, smells a story in Phillips's partnership with West, whom he requests to assist him.  Soon West and Phillips set up a lab to continue Herbert's work, while Olney continues to look into what happened at Miskatonic University.  She is also curious about an inmate named Moses (Nico Baixas) who, despite having a heart attack, appears to be quite healthy if mentally deranged.  As before West's experimentation has undesired consequences.

The one thing each Re-Animator film has done is keep the setting minimal, thus allowing for the budget to be focused on effects.  In this case it's a prison and appears to have either been an operational one or an abandoned one dressed up for the movie.  Like the first two it is supposed to take place in the fictional city of Arkham, in Massachusetts, though even without knowing it is a Spanish production things will feel a bit off from the beginning, similar to many Italian films that try to seem like Hollywood productions. 

Jeffrey Combs is still the standout, although he doesn't get as many great lines as he did in the first two.  This is because he and Yuzna are the only people left from the first two beside effects artist Screamin' Mad George.  It is not described how West survived the second, just like the first sequel never explained how he survived his apparent death in the first movie, but this is pretty much just a set up for some more mayhem.

It isn't as good as the first two but, as this premiered on what was then the Sci-Fi Channel in severely edited form, I doubt that expectation was ever there.  It is a surprise that it turned out to still be entertaining, with good effects for the low budget and still much of the humor carrying over from the first two.  Simón Andreu makes Warden Brando an entertaining and despicable villain, making up for the fact that Jason Barry is forgettable while Elsa Pataky, although hampered a bit by having to act in a language not native to her, was not hired for acting skills.  

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Elsa Pataky, Simón Andreu
Director: Brian Yuzna



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