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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Brian Yuzna

Starring:
Jeffrey Combs/West
Jason Barry/Howard
Elsa Pataki/Laura
Simon Andreu/Warden Brando
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Thirteen years after his fiasco in "Bride of Re-Animator", Dr. West (Combs) is now serving time in jail, still pursuing his “living dead” experiments. When a new prison doctor (Barry) checks in with the intentions of helping West pursue his research, things get out of hand…again. The dead are re-animated, the gore flows like beer during Happy Hour and The Arrow stands up and cheers.
THE LOWDOWN
"That’s quite enough of you “esse”— Dr. West

NOTE: This is a review of the Un-Cut print.

Thirteen years after "Bride of Re-Animator", badass director Brian Yuzna and kick ass genre actor Jeffrey Combs (who will from hereon be known simply as “The Combs”, he damn earned it) band together again to deliver the third entry in the crazy severed limbs gone wild saga. Was it worth the wait? For this West fan...YESSIR-REE-BOB!

From its groovy familiar opening credits over medical schematics, I had a feeling that "Beyond Re-Animator" wouldn’t stray too far from the two previous entries. I was dead on. This film incorporates elements and plot conventions from its two forefathers, but slaps them into a prison setting. If you’ve seen the two previous movies, you’ll recognize the character “types” and expect the nutty chain of events to come. Much like after having given a desperate crack-hoe two quarters, it is sometimes reassuring to know exactly what you’re in for while hopping on a ride. This was one of those times for me. I was grinning through out the film, snuggled comfortably in the franchise’s token “make” and the knowledge that it would get more “out there” and BLOODIER as the clock ticked on. YIPPEE!

Having said that, the film's definite main strength was Dr. West himself, once more played brilliantly by “The Combs”. The man hasn’t aged one bit, still delivered the character full force and had me rooting for his psychotic, yet practical, self the whole way. WE LOVE YOU, WEST! The no-limit gore set pieces were the second main delight here. Once again, Yuzna didn’t hold back in the creative and mad horror treats! Backed by effect wizard Screaming Mad George’s magic touch, the red grub in this plate hit the spot like a hot slice of pizza after a hard day’s work. Every time I thought they couldn’t go any further with the outlandish effects, they would by upping the ante considerably. What a freak show!

Script-wise, I’m happy to report that this entry displayed more of a dark sense of humor than Bride, therefore channeling the swaying feel of the original. Humor was milked via excessive circumstances and witty puns galore (West had all the best ones). I was having such a hoot! Sure, the screenplay sported some implausible scenarios (what was up with all those chicks dressed like tramps hanging around a maximum security prison...didn’t make sense) and the rules of the game tended to be a tad shifty when it came to West’s new procedure (the “soul” thang) and the behavior of its re-animated victims, but you know what....to all of that I easily said: I DON’T GIVE A CADAVER'S ASS! This is a movie about re-animated peeps causing a bloody ruckus; it’s not based in reality! So the film felt the need to leave common sense behind to deliver some sexy babes and some gory fun. SO BE IT! I welcomed that shite with open arms and zipped down zipper!

On the RIP side of the slab, the absence of the Caine character (played by Bruce Abbot) from the two other films was severely felt here. He was slightly referenced early on and that’s as far as it went…don’t sneeze. It didn’t help that his “replacement” Howard (Barry) was piss poorly written as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah…your sister died 13 years ago…get over it! The man’s logic also kept eluding me. His motivation was to help West further his research, but he kept freaking whining and objecting to everything ALL THE TIME! Hey man, what do you want??? WHAT DO YOU WANT??? Pick a channel bucko! I had so much trouble warming up to the lad. The same can be said about his lame “love story” with hot-to-trot, garter belt-wearing dish Laura (Elsa Pataki). It felt forced and manufactured to serve the plot. There wasn’t one ounce of feeling or reality put into it and that downgraded the stakes of the situation.

But on the whole, "Beyond Re-Animator" came through, throwing what I loved about the first two entries my way in high doses dipped in a new coating. You dig your West, your messy gore, your seriously whacked-out creations, your hot dames and your bleak humor? Check in with the West-Man, he’ll take care of ya! The doctor is in….SANE!
GORE
Effect nut-job Screaming Mad George delivered the bloody goods once more. We get a jawless zombie (that reminded me of the opening zombie in "Day of the Dead"), a bashed head, a bullet in the head, nasty bites (loved the bit off ear), sharp objects inserted in flesh, severed limbs, severed head, an exploding body, a severed torso, lots of gooey-goo and much, much more! If gore is your thang, this flick will make you swing.
ACTING
The Combs (West) once more tackled his most beloved role and aced it effortlessly. It was great to see West at it again. I’m sure Jason Barry (Howard) is a decent actor in other films, but the material he was given here reeked, so he looked bad. Elsa Pataki (Laura) was better at playing “mad” then she was at playing it “straight”. She gave me shades of Laura Palmer when she went “coo-coo”. That’s a compliment. She also melted the screen with her sexy bod. Simon Andreu’s (Warden Brando) role was written in a cartoonish way and he played it to a tilt. You be the judge if that’s a good thing or not.
T & A
We get a big pair of melons early on and another pair of knockers down the road. The ladies get Jason Barry’s WHITE ass, shirtless men and a severed penis (yes, it's “cut” in more ways than one).
DIRECTING
Yuzna directed with a steady hand throughout, keeping it simple and fast-paced for the bulk of the film. He finally went “Dick Tracy” for the last act with zany camera shots and visual tricks filling the screen. Good job, as per usual!
SOUNDTRACK
Charles Band’s “Psycho Rip- Off” score made an appearance and the score by Xavier Capellas succeeded in tapping into the film’s many moods. Good stuff!
BOTTOM LINE
"Beyond Re-Animator" didn’t try to step out of the “Re-Animator” mold and in this instance, that “safe” approach worked for me. I got what I wanted and expected: West going too far, the gore laid on thick, bodies and body parts running free, hot females and delicious, dark comedy. Sure, the script had its fair share of snags and the Barry character couldn’t spit-shine Caine’s shoes, but overall, it got the job mother f-ing done. A no-holds barred “Re-Animator” sequel a day, keeps the doctor away! I so needed that! Thank you to all involved with this film!
BULL'S EYE
The flick was shot in Spain for a reported $3,000,000.

The story came from the mind of Miguel Tejada-Flores, who wrote the "Fright Night 2" screenplay.

Stay tuned during the end credits to see the severed penis duke it out with the rat…FUNNY SHIT!
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