'Re-Animator' might be the only 'Frankenstein' movie without a Dr. Frankenstein. Instead, we get the devil and the angel on Frankenstein's shoulders, personified by Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West and Bruce Abbott as Dan Cain. West is obsessed with conquering death, while Cain recoils at the horrific results. Considering 'Re-Animator' has spawned two sequels, it's not a spoiler to say that the devil won out.
It's the project that put director Stuart Gordon, and his star Combs on the map in a way that slowly leaked out from the confines of hardcore horror fandom into the fringes of mainstream acceptance. 'Re-Animator' doesn't kowtow to easy slasher cliches like other films of its time, and West is an immediate stand-out as a unique horror villain. He's a controlling, condescending nerd, whose ego forces him to do terrible things without consideration of consequence. In 'Re-Animator,' those terrible things include killing Dan's girlfriend's cat, bringing the dead cat back to life (twice!), and de-capitating his college professor out of professional jealousy (the true villain of the piece -- David Gale as John Kerry look-alike Dr. Hill).