Thursday, December 13, 2012

Reanimator Academy (1992)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 11

Subgenre(s): Comedy

Year: 1992

Rated: Unrated
Length: 75 minutes

Director: Judith Priest
Writers: Benton Jennings, Judith Priest
Starring: Steve Westerheit, Connie Speer, Richard Perrin

Synopsis: The brainy outcast in a hard-partying fraternity develops a revolutionary serum that can bring the dead back to life, and quickly discovers that messing with Mother Nature can have some truly gruesome results.


Review: It's hard to match up the names of who played who due to the lack of information in the credits, but suffice it to say that Connie Speer plays Hot Lips the prostitute, Benton Jennings plays Bruno the dumb gangster, and Tricia Anderson is the blonde wallflower at the Frat party. Other than those, you'd have to be an insider to know any more. Even the name of the director is probably a pseudonym.

Reanimator Academy is, of course, a no-budget spoof of the real Re-Animator as made by Stuart Gordon. It's a lot tamer, there's no gore, and the jokes aren't very funny unless you were born in the 1920s and never grew up. Having said that, it's no worse than Laurel and Hardy and is possibly something little kids would enjoy despite (or even because of) the subject matter.

I don't know the name of the actor in the Jeffrey Combs role, in this case called Edgar Allan Lovecraft instead of Herbert West, but he's okay. He's amiable enough and doesn't take the role too seriously. Since Jeffrey Combs was rather a handsome chap back in the day and this one is very nerdy, the intention to make a lookalike fails slightly. Basically, Edgar is just some balding guy in a lab coat who is way too old to be a student.

The two comedic gangsters play well off each other although their humour is infantile rather than puerile. There's some talent there but not much. The puppet for the dead head of the stand up comedian, Fred (the head), has slightly better lines until the very end when its just embarrassing.

As with a lot of these movies, scanning the background reveals more interesting things than what's being played out. There are a couple of pretty girls dotted around the party although Sarah Paxton (not the one from The Innkeepers) who plays Trish is easily the best. She even gets to act a bit as a re-animated girlfriend who reveals the first signs of "Shrew Syndrome" so she's not only eyecandy.

Film detectives will appreciate that J.P. Black from Redneck County Fever is not only listed in the credits as the cameraman but has quite a large cameo as well. Given the suggested date of Redneck County Fever as 2001, it seems more likely to be from the same year as this movie. I'd also guess that David DeCoteau was the executive producer and director of both. The camerawork is okay too, by the way.

There's not much else to say except that, like all comedies, the plot is contrived as Hell and easy to follow. There's nothing complicated about the gangsters bringing a dead prostitute to be re-animated and nothing very realistic about it either. It's pretty obvious that the body they carry into the constantly partying Frat house is a mannequin as you can even see the holes in the feet.

With the final third borrowing from Frankenhooker, things start to drag towards the end. There are only so many times you can watch Hot Lips angrily decapitating the same mannequin while bongo drums pound in the background before it gets annoying. Why Edgar and the gangsters bother to pick up all the heads when they don't actually do anything with them is also a waste of time.

The ending, if you make it that far, is quite satisfying with its serving of poetic justice, and it almost makes up for the corny one-liners. I think Reanimator Academy needed a few more "head" jokes though. Not really.

Most Memorable Moment(s): J.P. Black from Redneck County Fever (2001) is a big part of the "DED heads" student party.

Originality: Tries to cash-in on Re-Animator (1985) albeit in name only then borrows heavily from Frankenhooker (1990).

Best Line(s): "I feel like Roseanne Barr just sat on my face."
Worst Line(s): "Is that a head in your shorts are you just glad to see me?"

Best Effect(s): The dead head.
Worst Effect(s): The cop and the johns getting their heads knocked off. The same mannequin and Styrofoam heads are used repeatedly.

Goriness (out of 10): 1
Sexiness (out of 10): 1
Profanities (out of 10): 1

Hottest Actor/Actress: Sarah Paxton(?) as Trish.

Picture Quality: Slightly below average (4:3 ratio, worn VHS)
Audio Quality: Below average (buzzing in background)

Rating (out of 10): 4


IMDb or Wiki:

Final Thoughts: Actually quite amusing for what it is. The dead head puppet steals the show.


  1. Replies
    1. It's surprisingly watchable. The stupid gangsters and the talking head make it seem better than it really is.


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