An ongoing series looking at fantastic prologues from classic and contemporary horror movies.
In this new SHOCK series, well take a look at some of the most astonishing opening scenes in genre film history. We’ve already made a case for John Landis disturbing opening to the 1983 Landis/Steven Spielberg produced TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, a spotty film that fails to live up that dynamic beginning.
This week we isolate the histrionic, ultra-bloody pre-credits sequence for Stuart Gordon’s 1985 unrated, gory and taboo-teasing horror comedy RE-ANIMATOR.
RE-ANIMATOR was theater-maven Gordon’s genre debut and what a debut it was. Produced and distributed by Charles Band’s beloved 80’s B-movie machine Empire Pictures. RE-ANIMATOR helped put that studio on the map. Wittily riffing on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, Gordon and co-writer Dennis Paoli’s audacious musing on mad-science and sexual deviancy was a critical hit, painting the screen red and supporting that grue with blacker than black humor, sharp dialogue, finely-etched characters and a slew of wonderful performances from Jefferey Combs, Bruce Abbot, Barbara Crampton (who really put her ass on the line with this one!) and the late David Gale.
And to prove that they weren’t fooling around, Band and Gordon set the maniacal tone for their magnum blood opera in the first five minutes.
The opening of RE-ANIMATOR follows the structural formula that Empire traded in: fade in from the studio logo, blast out a tease of the action to come and slam to credits, usually stung with the sounds of Band’s composer brother, the great Richard Band.
In RE-ANIMATOR, we enter into a scene of extremity, with the faculty of a University in Zurich, marching towards the lab of Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry), bashing on the door and demanding his assistant Dr. Herbert West (Combs), let them in. Gruber’s screams of agony eventually inspire them to force entry and there, they discover West hovering over the body of the doc, who begins to…well…erupt.
A wildly gory scene is chased by West staring directly into the camera and telling us, the audience, that he “gave him life…”.
Slam to black. Cue credits and PSYCHO-stained Band theme.
It’s horror movie magic and one of the greatest horror film openings of all time.
Have a look…