When WaxWork Records contacted me earlier this year to create the artwork for their upcoming vinyl release of Richard Band’s score for Re-Animator, what was a fan of the film like I to do? Grab some Re-agent for inspiration and pray brain death doesn’t kick in until the job is off the slab. I watch Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator once a year and I crave it like a sick snack. Loosly based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, The Strange Case of Dr. Herbert West, Gordon’s adaptation is a demented and explosive mix of gonzo gore, pitch black humour, and features one of the craziest sex scenes ever filmed for a horror film. On top of all that is Richard Band’s orchestral score which I’ve always felt elevated the film from pure camp to instant classic and much like the movie itself, when the score is over you never forget it.
In creating the artwork for Waxwork’s re-issue, I knew I wanted to do something completely different than what had been created for the film in the past. The original illustrated poster for Re-Animator has always been a big inspiration. It’s a perfectly painted image and who can forget the tagline, “Herbert West has a good head on his shoulders… and another one on his desk.”
Google “Re-Animator poster” and an abundance of images and concepts pop up. Just about every avenue or direction has been taken with the material since it’s release in 1985. Some clever ones include the glowing green needle shaped as a headstone cross, or Herbert West holding up Dr. Hill’s very alive and very severed head in victory. All great stuff, but one thing a lot of these posters and fan-made artwork all have in common is Herbert West as the focus. It makes perfect sense of course, he is the lead character in the film and Jeffrey Combs gleefully demented portrayal of the young surgeon couldn’t have been more perfectly played. I wanted to make sure my bases were covered conceptually with the artwork and V.1 features West as the hero on the cover. Doctor Carl Hill, his evil nemesis, also perfectly portrayed by David Gale, makes up the face on the back cover.
In V.2, we were going for a more minamilist approach to the design but we felt it just didn’t have that over-the-top impact of the film, so it too landed on the morgue floor. After a quick discussion with Kevin at Waxwork Records, we settled on the final concept, V.3. An explosion of Re-Agent forming the evil Dr Hill, one of horror cinema’s most demented villains. Doctor Hill is an incredible foe to watch. The film shares similar themes with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the jealous Dr. Hill eventually becomes the monster that West creates using his trusty Re-Agant serum and ultimately must be destroyed. We also wanted to find a way to feature Combs,Bruce Abbott and Barbara Crampton who all deliver performances that have continued to contribute to the success of the film with their dedicated performances. Their faces became the tendrils of serum and before you can say “Cat dead.”, we finally had a concept that spoke to Richard Band’s sprawling orchestral score and the insanely over-the-top spirit of the film.
Thanks for reading and I hope this sheds a little green light on the work that went into presenting the new re-issue of Richard Band’s memorable score. Pre-orders are available from WaxWork Records here.
See you in the dark,