Herbert West - Reanimator

Discussion in 'H P Lovecraft' started by Tinsel, Mar 17, 2010.

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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I read it once over and thought that it was a decent story but it did not grab my attention like some of his other stories. I seem to believe that it is a popular Lovecraft choice, but I would not place it at the top. I can tell you that right now, although it did contain quality structure so it was easy to read. I liked a few of the things that occurred in the story such as when West animated Dr Allan and also the part where their experiments turned into failures resulting in monsters. Basically West believed that life depended upon chemical automation. The need for fresh corpses might have gotten in the way of something better, but I did not feel any morbid reaction, only that the story was far fetched and perhaps because West did not have any reason to continue what he was doing except for some slight changes to the formula.

    I have recently read "The Island of Dr Moreau" by H.G. Wells. I think that Wells did a better job although his writing is lower quality. They told a similar story but Wells created a more plausible character and it was a stronger effort.
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg New Member

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    Hmmm...Can't say I agree with you much here.

    Quality structure? Probably the biggest flaw of this piece is the episodic structure and the repetition/recaps involved in that.

    I've also recently read "The Island of Dr. Moreau" but I didn't think they were particularly similar. In that the Dr was a vivisectionist, attemtping to engineer animals to be more human like. In this story, the aim is to bring people who've died back to life. Very different themes really.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    They were both mad doctors. They both failed in their experiments.

    I liked "The Island of Dr. Moreau" better because he had his creations walking around more or less unnoticed, except that they didn't quite fit in. The island was a perfect setting to carry out experiments.

    I agree with what you said about the repetition. That was as you said, episodic. The Herbert West story had it's moments. If I were to put together a small collection of horror stories that I would read prior to Haloween, I would not include this one unless it was the first story and than the rest of them were increasingly better.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    The recaps at the beginning of each chapter were, of course, forced on him by the serial nature of the thing... to bring readers new to the series "up to speed". Even so, Lovecraft attempted to vary each of these, and sometimes added new information or a new slant to things, just to keep them from being quite the same every time.

    Nonetheless, this was among his poorest efforts overall, and something he never really cared for. Once he got into it, he felt bound to finish it, but he kvetched about it the whole way through. And, as Joshi and others have noted, he increasingly took it further and further over the top until it became a complete parody of itself... just to relieve his annoyance and boredom with it.

    It has its moments, though; and read as individual stories in a series (which is what they are, really, rather than a single short story), they work much better, I think. There are also some other strengths to it --Del Toro pointed out how there is a sense of history in this one, a genuine feeling for the milieu; and it was also the introduction of Miskatonic University in Lovecraft's writing. It also gains a sort of manic energy as the series goes on, which is quite oddly attractive in itself....
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg New Member

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    I actually really liked this one, despite it's flaws. I like it's humourous tone and yet I think it is also quite effective as a tale of horror too.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    On to "The Hound", which I already know about, but now I can read it and enjoy it. There isn't much to say about West. I've seen a number of zombie movies and they are not scary anymore. There was that one movie called "Flatliners (1990)" where they used chemicals to bring themselves near to death. It was a good movie, that slightly reminds me of this story.
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg New Member

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    Tinsel, have you seen the movie adaptation: "Reanimator"? A visceral black comedy but a different sort of humour than that employed in the story.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    There's a 1999 movie called "Bride of Re-animator" on iTunes. Is that anywhere close to what you mean. That is the only one that I see under the search. It has the Herbert West character in it.

    I watched the old version of the Dunwich Horror movie. It was okay, but obviously they could do much better these days in making one focused on the story using modern animation.
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    Fried Egg

    Fried Egg New Member

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    That sounds like it is probably a sequel to the original that was made in the 80's sometime.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Why aren't you guys watching blu-ray? Not only that, but there should be a petition going around to get Hollywood to do some of these Lovecraft movies using the latest and the greatest that film has to offer.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    The question is: would Hollywood do anything fit to watch? Given that nearly everything they do connected with sff or horror has to be action-oriented with lots of bangs, explosions, and flashing lights, I can't see them managing to capture much of HPL's atmosphere....

    Stuart Gordon's Re-animator (1985) was a very loose adaptation of the six Herbert West stories. It managed to maintain a surprising number of the elements of the original tales (albeit updated), and a fair degree of the completely manic aspect of the thing as a whole. It is also, despite being about as over-the-top as one can get, a rather intelligently done film, produced by some people who actually do have a respect and affection for Lovecraft's work. Bride is the first sequel (there has been at least one other, with yet another long bruited about or on the way), but the only one where Gordon and Paoli (the driving forces behind the script and realization on the screen) have been involved is the original.

    As for blu-ray... I don't have the proper equipment, don't have the money to spend on such equipment, and am reluctant to go to this until the prices are down considerably (by which time, of course, some new technology will be emerging to replace that, as well). And then there is the fact that so much of what I am interested in is simply not available in that format, either....
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    I just use a PS3 console for blu-ray. It works very well. I agree with you however that Hollywood is not as good as it was in the 1980 - 1990's. That is very unfortunate because there are much better special effects, which should allow for better movies. I don't wait for the new movie list anymore.

    I'm not sure if I will rent the sequel but what I might do is try a couple of the movies like "Dagon" and another Cthulhu video coming up before long. If I lived in Texas, j.d, I would have thought that I would have a great setup. You people are able to get guns even. Anyway, the old Dunwich movie wasn't exactly a faithful adaptation either, so some of the older movies didn't try to follow the story either, it's not just the new movies, basically nobody follows the book.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Maybe the government will buy you a blu-ray setup after the Iraqi's get theirs.
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    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    Well if it is any consolation, gave away a 32 inch HDTV in 2009 and it ended up that someone kicked in the screen because they wanted one as well. Enough said.
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't bother with the sequels; just go for the original. Again, it isn't "faithful" in the usual sense, but it certainly manages to capture much of the bizarreness of that particular tale, albeit in its own very strange way. And it isn't so much a zombie film as a parody of zombies and Frankensteinian tales.

    Dagon takes its liberties, too, but is much closer to the basic outline of the tale (as well as many of the incidents); it is much less comic in intent, though, and is its own type of film.

    I wasn't meaning just modern takes on HPL, by the way; I mean Hollywood, period, any time, past or present (and likely future). And I'm afraid I can't agree about the films of the 1980s-1990s being all that notable, generally speaking (though there were some darned fine exceptions)... especially in the fields of horror, fantasy, or science fiction. Besides, I put a great deal more emphasis on good scripting, performances, and acting, rather than special effects. The last is nice, of course, but I consider it to be a great deal less important in making a truly good film than knowing how to tell a story well and having people who can play the parts properly....
  16.  
    Tinsel

    Tinsel Science fiction fantasy

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    The original is not available on iTunes. They just have the sequel. I'll order Dagon before long. It has a lot of reviews on Amazon, quite a bit more than any of the other Lovecraft based movies. The 80's and 90's movies seemed to be more inspirational, but if I think about it, I am happier these days without many movies, just the odd one.

    If this story would have been better than it would be worth something. There is no need to punish myself with that movie. You never know, they could come out with a remake but these stories are probably buried too deep and a lot of them are short. They would almost have to make two or three short films per one DVD and these characters who are attempting this might be worth checking out but I'll have to order on Amazon because none of them are on iTunes. If those ones are not even faithful to the story than it is a complete mystery because that would be the main reason to buy them over Hollywood junk. If they are not even being faithful than maybe I should do these movies in my back yard with a camcorder, and it might rival everything since it would be the closest out there.
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