The final film from the Fantastic Factory Box set is the Brian Yuzna directed Beyond Re-Animator the third film in the cult series based on the unhinged unstoppable Dr. Herbert West, a character created by iconic horror author H.P. Lovecraft.
Taking place 13 years after the events of Re-Animator and Bride of Re-Animator we find that the mad doctor (played as ever brilliantly by Jeffrey Combs) has been spending his time in solitary confinement after being imprisoned for the unspeakable acts he undertook – re-animating the dead and turning them into blood hungry killing machines.
Still dedicated to finding the Frankenstein-like key to life after death, his luck changes when the prison gains a new doctor Howard Phillips (Jason Barry) who not only knows of Dr. West’s work but wants to help him get it back on track.
Setting up a secret laboratory the misguided pair start experimenting on the inmated and quickly have a breakthrough. They discover ‘Nano-Plasmic Energy’, which can be extracted from the brain of a living being and then used to return the reanimated corpses from mindless zombies back to their fully functioning human forms.
When the wicked warden realises what the morally dubious duo have been doing he attempts to stop them, but his actions being about a catastrophic chain of events leading to a riot where the entire criminal population escapes and takes over the institution.
With the jail transformed into a concrete hell full of maniacs and murders, some of which have been shot full of Hubert’s bright green zombie making serum, it is left to the two doctors to try and stop the chaos they created and escape. They soon discover unsurprisingly to the audience that their undead meddling has had some sick psychopathic side effects which makes escape all the more difficult and deadly.
The appeal of the Re-Animator series and its success as a cult movie is based on the winning combination of horror and humor, the excellent special effects and Jeffrey Combs’ pitch perfect performance all of which Beyond Re-Animator delivers with the bonus of an original and entertaining storyline and setting.
Moving the movie to a prison adds in all sorts of new dynamics, dilemmas and devious delinquent characters ripe for reanimation, including the aforementioned evil warden played by Simón Andreu who gives a great physical performance as the pantomime villain of the piece.
Also excellent is the sultry Elsa Pataky (last seen in Romasanta) as the plucky reporter who gets mixed up with the wrong guy and the wrong story ending up in her tragic transformation which works very well as the emotional climax to the movie.
That said the film does not take itself entirely seriously and there is gore galore and enough sick special effects to keep fans of the series happy, including free moving body parts, an exploding stomach an especially acrobatic legless Latino hell bent on Dr. West destruction.
As part of the Fantastic Factory Box set Beyond Re-Animator is bursting with bonus material, including director’s commentary by Brian Yuzna, a 50 minute documentary as well as a collectors’ booklet featuring “World Of Lovecraft” and an interview with star Jeffrey Combs.
A great sequel to finish a brilliant box set, Beyond Re-Animator, along with Arachnid, Faust and Romasanta are all proof that the Fantastic Factory was one movie company who knew how to make entertaining horror which was low on budget but high on fun.