The Rejuvenator (1988) poster

The Rejuvenator (1988)


aka Rejuvenatrix

USA. 1988.


Director – Brian Thomas Jones, Screenplay – Brian Thomas Jones & Simon Nuchtern, Story – Simon Nuchtern, Producer – Steven Mackler, Photography – James McCalmont, Music – Larry Juris, Makeup Effects – Edward French, Production Design – Susan Bolles. Production Company – SVSC Films/Jewel Productions.


John MacKay (Dr Gregory Ashton), Vivian Lanko (Elizabeth Warren/The Monster), James Hogue (Wilhelm), Katell Pleven (Dr Stella Stone), Jessica Dublin (Ruth Warren), Marcus Powell (Dr Germaine), Louis P. Homyak (Tony), Roy MacArthur (Hunter)


Dr Gregory Ashton is conducting experiments to create a rejuvenation serum using fluids drawn from the brains of cadavers. He is being financially backed by Ruth Warren, an aging movie star who is desperate to regain her youth. At Ruth’s urging, Ashton injects her with the untested serum. The results are remarkable – Ruth emerges from the bandages looking like a young woman again. She makes immediate plans to pass as her niece Elizabeth while saying that Ruth has gone touring internationally. However, after Ashton spends the night with her, Ruth awakens an old woman again. She requires stronger doses of the serum to become young again. However, Ashton’s sources of brain fluid are running out and he can only obtain more supplies by illicit means. At the same time, as each dose wears off, Elizabeth turns into something monstrous that starts attacking people and drinking their brain fluids direct.

The Rejuvenator/Rejuvenatrix was a classic work from the heyday of the 1980s vhs horror release. Nobody involved seemed to much go on to do anything else of note. Indeed, the only real name of note present is makeup effects artist Edward French who produced effects for a good many films of this era including C.H.U.D. (1984), Breeders (1986) and Creepshow II (1987), among others.

The film is known as both Rejuvenatrix and The Rejuvenator. I am not able ascertain which of these it was titled first – the IMDB goes with Rejuvenatrix, although the film appears to be more widely known as The Rejuvenator. Certainly, it was being listed as The Rejuvenator by Fangoria magazine back in their 1988 coverage so I will go with that as being closest to the primary source. The title The Rejuvenator gives clear indication that the film is setting out to imitate Re-Animator (1985).

The Rejuvenator/Rejuvenatrix essentially takes the plot of the 1940s rejuvenation film such as The Man in Half Moon Street (1945) and tricks it out with 1980s-era makeup effects. As such, the film is a fairly typical makeup effects vehicle of the period, based around a series of entertainingly absurd set-pieces and gory meltdowns. There is a fairly impressive scene where Vivian Lanko turns into goo-dripping monster at the end of the show. The rest of the film is on the passably cheap side. In terms of plotting, everything heads in predictable directions.

Brian Thomas Jones made his directorial debut here. He went on to make half-a-dozen other films, including the obscure sf film Escape from Safehaven (1989) and the slasher film Posed for Murder (1989).

Full film available here

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