Poor Dr. Herbert West; it seems that no matter how hard he works to realize his dreams of transcending death, something always goes wrong in a big way. Of course, things are still going wrong for Dr. West, and, thankfully, they're not only going just plain wrong, but horribly, hilariously, and unimaginably wrong. For those who have been anticipating this new chapter since the disappointing closing frames of Re-Animator's first sequel in 1990 (Bride of Re-Animator), the ability to slightly reign in those expectations may prove a key factor in enjoying this much more satisfying entry into the series. In keeping with a successful formula, Beyond Re-Animator is almost a remake of the original, groundbreaking horror comedy classic, right down to a nearly identical credits sequence; the familiar, playful score; and virtual stand-ins for every character in the 1985 film. As similar as it is, though, Beyond Re-Animator never shies away from using those characters and situations as a springboard into some amusing situations, even if they aren't quite as memorable as those in the original.
Having discovered that the infamous glowing green serum is only half of the formula necessary to truly bring the dead back to life, the introduction of a "nanoplasma" (read: soul) to bring back the mind, as well as the body, leads to some of the film's most inventive and hilarious scenes. This is where Beyond Re-Animator ultimately succeeds over Bride of Re-Animator and truly gives it the feeling of a proper extension of the original's ideas without a by-the-numbers rehash. It goes without saying that Jeffrey Combs has lost none of the inspired madness that made Dr. West one of the most memorable horror villains in screen history, though what amounts to a decidedly over-the-top cameo by Spanish superstar Santiago Segura as a drug-riddled inmate may push the slaphappy humor just a bit too far for some viewers. Though Beyond Re-Animator seems to have received a healthy injection of the regenerative green serum that fans have come to know and love, the thing that it ultimately lacks is the nanoplasma. This is not a complaint, just an observation (perhaps taken from the theme of the series itself) that no matter how much we want them to be, things just aren't quite as fresh the second (or third) time around.