The Film before the Film

Noah Weaver


The movie first begins by taking us directly into a university setting. There are people speaking german, while dramatic music plays in the background. We then follow a bellowing german woman, a well dressed man and two police officers as they break into a locked room where screams are emitting from. We the viewers then witness a horrible scene of the man within the room, the Doctor, on the floor screaming, with a nerdy looking man hunched over him. The Doctor then stands up and his eyes explode, spraying blood everywhere. The nerdy man proclaims that he did not kill him, he gave him life (West). 

The intro credits start with a black background, dramatic string music begins playing. White intro-credit text in a bold sans-serif font moves from the viewer getting smaller until it is legible. A glowing neon green “Re-Animator” emerges and moves towards the  screen. Scientific drawings of the human head, eyes, and brain move across the screen. Text is mingling with these images, each getting bigger and smaller. At the end of the sequence the camera/viewer moves towards a full human head illustration, and when the viewer gets to the closed eyelid, it opens and the camera/viewer enters, segwaying into the continuation of the movie.

Within this Opening title sequence, the motif of the eye is repeated heavily. By repeating this “symbol” the designer gives the viewer a glimpse into a repeating theme for the rest of the movie. As shown in the prior scene, and throughout the movie, the deceased bodies/people react to Dr. Herbert West’s serum by having their eyes convulse, and even explode. In addition to this, the eyes are commonly referred to as gateway’s into a person’s psyche or even soul. Through this analysis the viewer can infer that there will be some emphasis on the reflection of who a person is, and potentially, based upon the destruction of the eyes, the destruction of said person’s soul. At multiple points during the movie Dr. West fails to properly revive a person, only making a zombie who doesn’t have a soul. This eye inclusion refers to future uses and instances of the “soul”.

The text and the scientific illustrations use bright whites and “pop” colors. The use of these colors seemingly contrasts the dark tone that was just set by the scene prior. The juxtaposition of the two tones allows the viewer to de-stress after the intense scene, and prepares them for a less dramatic continuation of the story. In addition to this, it allows the viewer to know that what they’ll be watching is not solely thriller/horror, but it has some comedic aspects as well. When the comedic parts come later, the viewers will think that it fits properly, and are not blindsided by some comic relief.

The music used in the intro, like the colors used, is slightly more light-hearted and contrasts the earlier dramatic and gorier scene. The music, however, does not convey a cheery mood, there is something off about it. It swells and becomes more intense gradually. This can be seen as a parallel to characters like Dr. Wayne, who has something slightly off about them, or scenes where everything goes out the window very quickly and dramatically. 

The movement of the animation and the music are synced up and continue to move on the same beats per minute for the majority of the two minute long intro. However, towards the end, when the viewer sees the final face, and the camera moves up towards the face and then subsequently through the eye, the pace picks up and the camera moves a half beat quicker each time. The use of this technique, stirs the viewer and tells them “hey something is about to happen”. It doesn’t have the same effect as scaring them, however it alerts them that the movie is now starting, without being overtly obvious. This is an excellent technique for a thriller movie, that has to work with both small and big scares to achieve a balance in holding the viewers. 

For the most part all of the animations are the same. It is the text getting larger and smaller and the illustrations becoming larger and smaller. One of the few differences to this is the brain towards the end. The brain spins around and moves across the frame. This seemingly extra movement, in contrast to the rest of the movements in the scene, draws the viewer’s attention in, and captivates them. The spinning brain can be interpreted as losing control of one’s mind. Or literally a brain falling down. Both of these potential interpretations occur in the movie, and once again the design elements allude to what is about to occur, giving the viewer a feel of what is to happen, before it happens.

The overlapping of the various “overwhelming” images represents a chaos that occurs. Showing both the confusion of thought, and the clashing of ideals. The mixing and mashing of colors and various imageric parts connects to the Frankenstein-esque tendencies of the main character, Dr. West.

Though seemingly short and non-complex the intro to Re-Animator is packed with allusions and symbolic references through it’s usage of subtle differences, color, symbols, and pacing of music/animation.