[31 Days of Horror: Resurrection] Day 12 – Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

Director: Brian Yuzna
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Elsa Pataky, Enrique Arce, Nico Baixas, Lolo Herrera, Raquel Gribler, Simon Andreu, Santiago Segura
Screenplay: Jose Manuel Gomez
96 mins. Rated R for strong graphic violence/gore, sexual content and language.

Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator is one of my all-time favorite horror films. For awhile, I was hesitant to watch the sequels as Gordon didn’t return and it seemed like no one I knew had anything positive to say about them. Eventually, I acquired the sequels (as I knew I eventually would) and saw Bride of Re-Animator, which was a lesser film but still quite great, so I worked up the courage to finally see the closing chapter of this trilogy with Beyond Re-Animator. Did they stick the landing?

For the past 13 years, Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, From Beyond, The Frighteners) has been behind bars after one of his living corpses went on a killing spree. When the prison hires a new prison doctor, Howard Phillips (Jason Barry, Titanic, MirrorMask), West takes him under his wing and continues his dangerous resurrection experiments.

Jeffrey Combs’s Herbert West is very much like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in that he works best as an injection to the story, a side character. The heart of the previous two films was Dan Cain, played by Bruce Abbott, and his humanity being tested by West. With Abbott out of this film, we don’t have that heart. I understand the replacement with Howard Phillips doesn’t work nearly as well and it only seeks to remind us that we don’t have Dan around. Jason Barry just can’t carry the heart in this film. I can tell he’s trying, but the script isn’t doing anything to stand apart from its predecessors. Sure, Bride of Re-Animator follows very similar beats to the original, but it is still told with a fresh and fun style, but that’s completely lacking in this third installment. You can feel the budget being squeezed to a breaking point, and it certainly didn’t help this closing chapter.

With the remainder of the new cast, I don’t know that any of them actually stand out in the film. A lot of the minor characters are just moving around in the background while Combs, Barry, and Elsa Pataky (Furious 7, Snakes on a Plane) try to do something with the plot.

That’s not to say that the film is a total loss, it’s just that where it wins is in replaying similar scenes from the other films. That’s nothing new, horror sequels have been retreading common ground for decades, but if you don’t do anything stylistically new or different, you tell the audience that they’re better off with the original.

Beyond Re-Animator isn’t a great movie, but fans of the other two films will find enough for one viewing. I didn’t hate myself for watching it, but I’m just disappointed in how Brian Yuzna (Society, Return of the Living Dead 3) closes this trilogy off. He could’ve done something more unique and really added to the series, making up for the lack of Bruce Abbott, but he just keeps treading water, which doesn’t work so well. It didn’t for me.

-Kyle A. Goethe

  • For my review of Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, click here.
  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s Bride of Re-Animator, click here.
  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s Society, click here.
  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, click here.
  • For my review of Brian Yuzna’s The Dentist, click here.

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