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Screen Slate has published 365 days a year for the last nine years as a daily aggregate of NYC alternative screening listings accompanied by a short essay about something showing that day.

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We hope you'll bear with us during this strange time, and look forward to seeing you at the movies on the other side.

Stream Slate #10: Re-Animator

by Stephanie Monohan


Re-Animator (1985) (Shudder, Showtime, Direct TV)
From Beyond (Pluto TV free with ads, or digital rental/purchase)
Dolls (1987) (Amazon Prime)
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) (as creator/writer) (Disney Plus)
The Pit and the Pendulum (1991) (Tubi free with ads)
Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers (1993) (as writer) (Starz, Direct TV)
Castle Freak (1995) (Shudder, Tubi free with ads)
The Dentist (1996) (as writer) (Tubi free with ads)
Dagon (2001) (Tubi free with ads)
King of the Ants (2003) (Amazon Prime, or VUDU free with ads)
Edmond (2003) (Amazon Prime, or VUDU free with ads)
"Masters of Horror": S01E02, Dreams in the Witch House  (2005) (Several free services)
"Masters of Horror": S02E11, The Black Cat  (2006) (Several free services)
Stuck (2007) (Shudder, or IMDb TV free with ads)
"Fear Itself": S01E05, Eater  (2008) (The Roku Channel, free)

Ed. note: This morning many were saddened to learn of the passing of filmmaker Stuart Gordon. Best known for his Lovecraft adaptations — above all, Re-Animator (see below) — Gordon is one of the cinema's greatest practitioners of Grand Guignol, merging James Whale's delightfully macabre sense of humor with SFX-heavy splatter. At the same time, he often brought a childlike sense of wonder to his films, most famously as the co-creator of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. (Dolls [1987], a personal favorite of mine, runs the gamut.) In the 2000s, Gordon hit a somewhat under-the-radar hot streak starting with Dagon (2001), a solid return to Lovecraft; but his abrupt turn to relentlessly bleak low-budget neo-noir with King of the Ants (2003), Edmond (2005), and Stuck (2007) composes one of the 21st century's most compelling unsung trilogies. His TV work for "Masters of Horror" and "Fear Itself" is also strong.

Happily, a great deal of Gordon's work is available to stream immediately on services like Shudder, Tubi, and Amazon Prime. Those are linked above.

The below essay by Stephanie Monohan was originally published on Screen Slate on June 15, 2019.

View on our website

In 1985, perverse playwright and theater director Stuart Gordon (Castle Freak, Dagon) revealed his first foray into film: a stomach-churning, yet thrillingly witty take on a Frankenstein-esque story that would set the stage for the horror-comedy genre and gross-out movies to come. Equal parts Herschell Gordon Lewis and H.P. Lovecraft (as it remains the most famous adaptation of the Lovecraft story), Re-Animator is an unbridled, impressive debut that remains the director’s best film.

Jeffrey Combs (The Firghteners, Star Trek) plays the mad scientist Herbert West who, with his syringe of glowing green chemical reagent, obsessively attempts to master bringing the dead back to life. After successfully reanimating his roommate Dan’s dead cat, the duo begin to experiment on human subjects with disastrous results. As their numerous efforts lead to increasingly ridiculous carnage, West only becomes more determined and diabolical and the film transcends gothic horror into Grand Guignol madness. The script and the practical visual effects fuel the gruesome black comedy, but the performances of the main cast tether it to an emotional center that defines the film. Combs walks an extremely thin line between evil and camp that prevents Re-Animator from teetering off either tonal cliff, and Barbara Crampton (Chopping Mall, We Are Still Here), in her breakout role as Megan Halsey (arguably the moral core of the film), demonstrates the amount of heart required to be a true scream queen.

The gory masterpiece skipped MPAA submission (a risky move for Gordon in terms of making one’s film available for a wide audience), but found itself a champion in critic Pauline Kael, who described it as “pop Buñuel” and praised its “indigenous American junkiness.” Don’t miss the viscera, horny corpses, and Herbert West’s signature neon syringe.

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