Of the dead, by the dead, and for the dead.
Just shy of 20 years after Herbert West debuted on the screen, the Re-Animator franchise came to a close with third installment Beyond Re-Animator, released in 2003; the film originally premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel, which is needless to say not where any franchise hopes to end up. West was subsequently brought back to life in the form of comic books and even a musical (which initially starred The Mind’s Eye actor Graham Skipper!), and at the time of writing this post, a pseudo-remake titled Re-Animator: Evolution is being actively developed.
But what about the sequels that never came to be? At one point, Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator director Brian Yuzna was working on an Island of Dr. Moreau-inspired sequel to be titled Island of Re-Animator, but the most interesting unmade sequel was set to, believe it or not, center on Dr. Herbest West re-animating the President of the United States!
In 2006, three years after Beyond Re-Animator, the news broke that Stuart Gordon would be returning to the franchise to direct House of Re-Animator, which would again star both Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott. The story was strongly inspired by the George W. Bush presidency that was a hot topic of discussion at the time, and the basic plot of the series’ proposed fourth installment was that a Bush-like president would die in office, prompting the U.S. government to call Herbert West in to do what West does best: bring the dead back from the dead.
Spearheaded by Halcyon International Pictures, the White House-set House of Re-Animator was planned to be the first in a brand new trilogy of West stories, and franchise regulars Dennis Paoli and Brian Yuzna were on board to produce. Who was going to play the president, you ask? Reports at the time indicated that William H. Macy would call the Oval Office home.
And yes, Macy himself confirmed his involvement in the film.
A couple pieces of early promo art (below) were shown off around that time, but House of Re-Animator quickly fell of the map entirely. The reason for the project’s death seems to have been that producers were worried about ruffling feathers over at the real White House; not to mention, the topical concept was pretty much dead in the water once Bush left office in 2009.
William H. Macy as a zombified George W. Bush. Just picture that!
*Credit to Marcel Jansen for art featured at the top of this article.*