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  Rejuvenator, The Next time try Oil of Olay
Year: 1988
Director: Brian Thomas Jones
Stars: Vivian Lanko, John MacKay, James Hogue, Katell Plaven, Jessica Dublin, John Marcus Powell, Roy MacArthur, Louis Homyak, Goddess Ambrosia, Dwayne Coles, Caroline Durham, Beverly Eaby, Irene Fitzpatrick, Diamond Geary, Kim Geraghty
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: In search of eternal youth ageing actress Ruth Warren (Jessica Dublin) funds Dr. Gregory Ashton (John MacKay) in his attempts to develop an anti-aging serum. She also insists on becoming the first test subject. Ashton's experiment is a success. Now years younger (or, er, at least middle-aged...) and posing as her own niece, the newly rechristened Elizabeth (Vivian Lanko) plots her big screen comeback. She also jumps in the sack with a besotted Dr. Ashton. Much to the consternation of her obsessively devoted butler/former lover Wilhelm (James Hogue) who, sharing the same receding hairline and freakishly enormous forehead as Ashton prove Elizabeth clearly has a type. Alas, the morning after reveals the serum's effect to be merely temporary. Transformed into a hideous monster Elizabeth flies into a homicidal rage. While Ashton works to perfect the serum (along with one presumes a pill to help forget he shagged a face-melting mutant), Elizabeth discovers her own means of preserving her youth by consuming the vital organs of various one-night stands.

The Rejuvenator, also known as Rejuvenatrix, was along with Evil Spawn (1988) (a.k.a. Deadly Sting) one of two low-to-mid-budget remakes of Roger Corman's cult B-movie The Wasp Woman (1958). Corman himself eventually got around to an uncharacteristically late remake in 1995 albeit regrettably directed by Jim Wynorski. Despite sharing a near-identical plot with its Fifties forbearer, Rejuvenator's director Brian Thomas Jones insisted the film was mounted more as a hybrid of Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Sunset Boulevard (1950). While screenwriter Simon Nuchtern (whose credits as writer and director date back to the Sixties) conceived the project primarily as a showcase for makeup effects artist Ed French, Jones - who began his career making short documentaries - was more interested in the themes of greed, vanity, obsession and addiction he perceived in the script. Unfortunately he dealt with them by means of foregrounding tacky melodrama, relegating French's impressive pulsating and oozing effects work to the sidelines. Most of the horror The Rejuvenator consists of repetitive scenes where Elizabeth/Ruth stares into a mirror at her melting face. When the film finally does get around to its splatter set-pieces Jones stages them in an off-hand manner that implies parody.

To Jones' credit at least the performances are committed. Most of the cast (with the exception of hammy John Marcus Powell as Ashton's smarmy rival with his laughable pronunciation of the word "cadaver") invest the admittedly cornball soap opera and cheesy dialogue with a certain seriousness. That said Vivian Lanko's efforts are undercut by Jones' decision to endow her monster form with a silly electronically altered voice. Seventies Euro-horror staple Jessica Dublin is quite good in her brief appearance as the ageing Ruth, savouring some pretty ripe (and profane) dialogue and gamely referring to her own physical appearance as a "rotting corpse." Throughout a cluttered script multiple subplots rear their heads, none of which are resolved including an unrequited crush on Ashton harboured by his bespectacled but one presumes secretly glam lab partner Dr. Stella Stone (Katell Pleven) and a sub-Burke and Hare storyline involving a cockney accented grave-robber. While the action kicks up a notch towards the finale, the pacing lags for the most part, grinding laboriously through a repetitive plot while Jones wastes time on silly dream sequences, even sillier sex scenes between the middle-aged leads and ogling the bra-less members of cameo-ing all-girl hair-metal band The Poison Dollys. Who are admittedly awesome.


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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