Re-Animator (also known as H. P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator) is a 1985 American comedy horror film loosely based on the 1922 H. P. Lovecraft serial novelette "Herbert West - Reanimaor". Directed by Stuart Gordon and produced by Brian Yuzna, the film stars Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West, a medical student who has invented a reagent which can re-animate deceased bodies. He and his classmate Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) begin to test the serum on dead human bodies, and conflict with Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale), who is infatuated with Cain's fiancée (Barbara Crampton) and wants to claim the invention as his own.
Originally devised by Gordon as a theatrical stage production and later a half-hour television pilot, the television script was revised to become a feature film. Filmed in Hollywood, the film originally received an X rating, and was later edited to obtain an R rating for video rental stores.
Re-Animator is the first film collaboration between Gordon and Combs, the second being From Beyond, released in 1986. It is the first film in the Re-Animator film series, followed by Bride of Re-Animator in 1990 and Beyond Re-Animator in 2003. Released to mostly positive reviews, Re-Animator has since been considered a cult film.
At the University of Zurich Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, Herbert West brings his dead professor, Dr. Hans Gruber, back to life. There are horrific side-effects, however; as West explains, the dosage was too large. When accused of killing Gruber, West counters: "I gave him life!"
West arrives at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts in order to further his studies as a medical student. He rents a room from fellow medical student Dan Cain and converts the house's basement into his own personal laboratory. West demonstrates his reanimating reagent to Dan by reanimating Dan's dead cat Rufus. Dan's fiancée Megan Halsey, daughter of the medical school's dean, walks in on this experiment and is horrified.
Dan tries to tell the dean about West's success in reanimating the dead cat, but the dean does not believe him. When Dan insists, the dean implies that Dan and West have gone mad. Barred from the school, West and Dan sneak into the morgue to test the reagent on a human subject in an attempt to prove that the reagent works, and thereby salvage their medical careers. The corpse they inject comes back to life, but in a frenetic and violent zombie-like state. Dr. Halsey stumbles upon the scene and is killed by the reanimated corpse, which West then kills with a bone-saw. Excited at the prospect of working with a freshly dead specimen, West injects Dr. Halsey's body with his reanimating reagent. Dr. Halsey returns to life, also in a zombie-like state. Megan chances upon the scene, and is hysterical. Dan collapses in shock.
Dr. Halsey's colleague Dr. Carl Hill, a professor and researcher at the hospital, takes charge of Dr. Halsey, whom he puts in a padded observation cell adjacent to his office. He carries out a surgical operation on him, lobotomizing him. During the course of this operation, he discovers that Dr. Halsey is not sick, but dead and reanimated.
Dr. Hill goes to West's basement lab and attempts to blackmail him into surrendering his reagent and notes, hoping to take credit for West's discovery. West offers to demonstrate the reagent and puts a few drops of it onto a microscope slide with dead cat tissue. As Dr. Hill peers through the microscope at this slide, West clobbers him from behind with a shovel, and then decapitates him with it. West then reanimates Dr. Hill's head and body separately. While West is questioning Dr. Hill's head and taking notes, Dr. Hill's body sneaks up behind him and knocks him unconscious. The body carries the head back to Dr. Hill's office, with West's reagent and notes.
In his re-animated state, Dr. Hill acquires the ability to control other re-animated corpses telepathically, after conducting brain surgery on them. He then directs Dr. Halsey to snatch Megan away from Dan. While being carried to the morgue by her reanimated father, Megan faints. When she arrives, Dr. Hill strips her naked and straps her unconscious body to a table. She regains consciousness as Hill's body and bloody, severed head begin to sexually assault her.
Hill's body starts to place his head between Megan's legs, but is interrupted by the arrival of West and Dan. West distracts Dr. Hill while Dan frees Megan. Dr. Hill reveals that he has reanimated and lobotomized several corpses from the morgue, rendering them susceptible to mind control as Halsey is. However, Megan's voice reawakens a protectiveness in her father, who fights off the other corpses as Dan and Megan escape. In the ensuing chaos, West injects Dr. Hill's body with a lethal overdose of the reagent. Dr. Hill's body mutates rapidly and attacks West, who screams out to Dan to save his work before being pulled away by Dr. Hill's monstrous entrails.
Dan retrieves the satchel containing West's reagent and notes. As Dan and Megan flee the morgue, one of the reanimated corpses attacks and strangles Megan. Dan takes her to the hospital emergency room and tries to revive her, but she is dead. In despair, he injects her with West's reagent. After the scene fades to black, Megan, apparently revived, can be heard screaming.