Hollywood Gothique
Film Reviews

Friday Cat Blogging: RE-ANIMATOR

For this edition of Friday Cat Blogging, consider Rufus, the unfortunate feline in Reanimator , the film version of H. P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West – Reanimator.” Rufus is briefly glimpsed while alive, jumping onto the back of Dan (Bruce Abbott) while he’s in bed with girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton). After Rufus goes missing, his body turns up in the refrigerator of Dan’s new roommate, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs). West claims the animal’s demise was an accident, but the audience suspects the medical student killed it as part of an experiment.

Although the film never resolves the issue, Rufus is revived by West’s glowing green re-agent. Now played by a special effects prop, the zombie cat causes quite a ruckus, leaping out of the dark and snarling like a demon from hell (opposite page, top). The amusingly over-the-top sequence ends with Dan hurling the cat to its second death.

Shell-shocked, Dan refuses to believe that Rufus was truly dead the first time, insisting that the cat must have only been stunned when Megan found it in Herbert’s refrigerator. In order to prove that his re-agent actually can revive the dead, West revives Rufus a second time, although he warns, “Don’t expect it to tango – it has a broken back.” The pitiful remnants of the broken creature do indeed return to life, yowling in pain (opposite page, center and bottom), and the scene comes to an abrupt end when Megan stumbles in upon the horrific experiment. Rufus’ ultimate fate is never specified, although presumably he was put down a third time to end his suffering.

Reanimator prefigures Pet Sematary (1989): both films feature a pet cat brought back to life and end with a grief-stricken protagonist on the verge of resurrecting the leading lady, in spite of ample evidence that this will lead only to further disaster.