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Re-Animator: The Movie Tie-in Novel (by Jeff Rovin) [Narrated by Christian Francis]

It would be an insult to call Herbert West a genius, an intelligence scale has not been created that could encompass his gift. While other doctors fumble with understanding Herbert West is nothing less than a god in his own eyes. It’s just unfortunate that few people see his incredible ability. But he knows that the re-agent will change all that, all he needs to do is get the dosage right, and what if there are a few failures on the way to greatness? Who will even remember that when Herbert West, Re-Animator, has finally conquered death itself?

But there are always those men, those stupid, lazy men, who will want to take from him that which he has created. But they don’t understand that just as he can bring life to the lifeless, Herbert West is not above bringing death to those who do not deserve life, all – of course – in the name of science.

This book has all the things you would expect from a novelization from the time, though this was published some forty-five years later. Its cheezy and superficial vehicle while still managing to expand on the original film in interesting ways. That is the unique quality of almost all novelisations, and the good writers know that they are not there to try to surpass the movie, but just echo it in ways that makes us remember our viewing of it fondly. 

Jeff Rovin’s adaptation of Re-Animator does this well, in my opinion. There is no way he could surpass Re-Animator, it’s simply not something most writers could do, but he echos it nicely. He adds some of the movie’s deleted scenes which help expand and explain things that don’t really need explaining, but they are nice anyway. Some of the dialogue is changed, possibly due to the script being the source rather than the movie itself, and this does change the characters somewhat. This is inevitable, as a great deal of what makes the movie as memorable as it is are the performances, especially Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West, so any adaptation will be “wanting”.

So, in no way should Jeff Rovin’s Re-Animator be considered as a yardstick with which to judge the movie, but as a quick read it’s well worth a fan’s time. 

Chris Francis is both an author – though not of this book – and a narrator, and – so far – I like him best as a narrator. Though I’m not entirely certain he was fitting for this particular book. His reading leaned more towards the comedic than I would have preferred. However, he did run with what he had, making the characters very much his own without leaning on the way they were played in the movie, and for this he deserves credit. Not many would want to play Herbert West after Jeffrey Combs had already owned the part. Francis does a good job though, and it has to be understood mainly that my reticence on this comes down to taste, and not any issues regarding his performance.

Well worth reading if you are a fan, and worth it if you are an undemanding casual horror reader, but ultimately Jeff Rovin’s Re-Animator is a curiosity rather than a book in and of itself, and I don’t think it unfair to suggest any strengths it may have are probably due to the excellent source material rather than anything the author adds.

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