House of Re-Animator writer believes the project could still be made

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

After the release of BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR in 2003, it was announced that original RE-ANIMATOR director Stuart Gordon was returning to the franchise to take the helm of HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR, a film that would involve anti-hero Herbert West being called to the White House to revive the Vice President, who has died of a heart attack. Combs was attached to reprise the role of West, and Gordon wanted to make the story clearly set in our reality at the time of production – the President and Vice President in the story he crafted with his frequent collaborator Dennis Paoli were the current President and Vice President of the United States, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Gordon even cast the roles: William H. Macy would be playing Bush, with George Wendt as Cheney. Bruce Abbott was going to be in the film as his RE-ANIMATOR and BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR character Dan Cain, and there was some talk that Barbara Crampton would be in there as the First Lady.

Problem was, Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna were never able to secure financing for HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR. The possibility of the story being brought to the screen as an entry in the third season of the Masters of Horror anthology series was brought up, but then Masters of Horror didn't get a third season. And when Bush left the White House, Gordon seemed to lose enthusiasm for the project.

But Paoli thinks HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR could still be made. While talking to our friends over at Bloody-Disgusting about the idea, Paoli revealed that there weren't only Bush and Cheney treatments written, he and Gordon also developed "a more generic version" that would start with the assassination of a fictional President. According to the writer, Yuzna always preferred the idea of having West and Cain interact with fictional characters rather than cinematic versions of Bush and Cheney – and I'm with Yuzna on that one. The characters could have been inspired by Bush and Cheney, but I never liked the idea of them actually being presented as being the real people.

During his chat with B-D, Paoli described the set-up for the zombie action that would ensue, revealing that the "power brokers" behind the administration want to seek the help of Herbert West when the President or Vice President (depending on which treatment would be brought to the screen) dies, but West can't be located since he's an escaped convict. So they have to settle for his former associate Dan Cain – who is reluctant to get involved, and ultimately can't recreate the reanimating serum on his own. So West has to be drawn out of hiding.

Once Herbert’s in the story and he’s recruited to reanimate the Vice President, there are certain story developments wherein the First Lady is killed, the President is killed, and so eventually everybody who shows for a presidential press conference or at the Kennedy Center Honors is essentially a reanimated corpse. But they’re able to recruit Herbert because they give him a great lab. They give him the best laboratory he’s ever had, and carte blanche to do what he wants. Therefore Herbert and Dan are reunited, they’re given the laboratory of their dreams, and complete power to reanimate the most powerful figures in the free world. And that’s essentially Act One of the very first version, and the better part of Act One for subsequent versions of this story."

Paoli didn't go into detail about what happens next, but did say he and Gordon had thought of having the military create zombie soldiers. They scrapped that idea after Joe Dante's Masters of Horror episode HOMECOMING. 

The other direction being – once you’ve got a zombie President and a zombie Vice President… well, if you remember from the previous Re-Animator films, the dead reanimate pretty angrily. It’s pretty much the reptile brain that reanimates. Then you get to the power brokers. What they want is control over the politicians. Their money usually buys them control. Well, money doesn’t buy you control of a zombie. There aren’t zombie dollars. So they had to find another way to control the politicians that they had reanimated. So we looked at possibilities for developing [that idea for the second act]."

HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR seems to have gone dormant years ago, and sadly Gordon passed away earlier this year, so we'll never have the chance to see what another RE-ANIMATOR movie directed by him would have been like. But I would still love to see the movie get made with Combs and Abbott back as West and Cain, interacting with fictional politicians. If Yuzna were to start trying to push it forward again, Paoli is still on board. He told B-D, 

Would I do it? In a heartbeat! Would I work with those guys again? In a minute. Now, whether it’s this project or some other project, I don’t know. But we did develop a more generic version of HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR, which is still [possible to develop]. The danger now is that you would go back to the very specific version, that it would be a very recognizable President and Vice President you would be reanimating. But there’s a generic version too, which would work as well. But I’d love to work with those guys again."

I really hope we will get some kind of RE-ANIMATOR revival soon, even if it isn't the HOUSE idea, because we haven't seen Jeffrey Combs play Herbert West in a new film since 2003 and I'm anxious to see him do it again.

Source: Bloody-Disgusting

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.