The Evil Clergyman (1988)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, David Warner, David Gale, Una Brandon-Jones

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very high. There’s no way it can live up.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


The Full Moon archive is home to many unreleased films. Back in the VHS days (and earlier), sometimes low-budget studios needed to create a killer poster before they shot the movie in order to secure the necessary funding. Many of these advertised Full Moon films were never produced, or were later assimilated into other Full Moon projects in some altered form. But in the case of Pulsepounders, Full Moon’s 1988 unreleased anthology film, the film was actually done shooting and in the can. Its legend had grown so large that it seemed that it would never see the light of day. But if it was done shooting, why was it never released? I always assumed it was some sort of rights issue, but apparently the negative was lost, never to be found. But hark! In 2011 a workprint VHS was uncovered deep in the dark recesses of the Full Moon archive, and Band’s team went to work to ready it for release.

As an anthology film, Pulsepounders consisted of three 30-minute segments: a sequel to Trancers (now affectionately known as Trancers 1.5), a sequel to Ragewar (which is the most interesting to me because Ragewar itself was kind of an anthology film), and, of course, The Evil Clergyman. This film was to be a spiritual successor to Re-Animator, a highly successful H.P. Lovecraft adaptation directed by Stuart Gordon (as if Re-Animator needs an introduction). There were times when I thought this ambitious project was lost to time, and there were other, more hopeful times when I imagined its illustrious, remastered release, but I honestly never thought it would actually happen.

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Bride of Re-Animator (1991)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Claude Earl Jones, Fabiana Udenio, David Gale, Kathleen Kinmont, Mel Stewart, Irene Forrest, Michael Strasser, Mary Sheldon

Directed by Brian Yuzna

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
twostar


Okay, so Re-Animator is an ’80s horror classic. Bride of Re-Animator is a poor follow-up on many levels, but it has so much crazy imagery sprinkled throughout its 96 minutes that it’s impossible to simply dismiss it and call it a day. Just about everything good working for the first film is here, but all of it in diminished form, so viewers are left with a less-than-animated sequel that fulfills some insane fantasies of the morbid mind, but forgets to completely entertain along the way.

Eight months after the final events of the first film, our heroes(?) Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) have fled to South America. They’re working under the guise of field medics, but are actually continuing their re-animation research. West is never one to rest on his laurels though and has now shifted focus to body part re-animation and the actual creation of completely new life! It can’t be done some would say, but West laughs in the face of the medical profession and proves it is in fact possible!

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Re-Animator (1985)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson, Gerry Black

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Expectations: High. I’ve been building this movie up in my head for years.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
fourstar


Distributed by Empire International, Re-Animator is one of the hallmarks of 1980s horror cinema. Finally watching it after all these years of build up was something of an event and one that I truly enjoyed, even with my high expectations. Based on a little known story called Herbert West–Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft, the film is so much more than the simple Frankenstein re-telling I expected it to be. Apparently Lovecraft wrote the story as a parody of Mary Shelley’s classic tale and while the filmed story differs quite a bit from the original, it can still be seen as a slight parody re-telling.

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