An ambitious but not entirely successful attempt to bring another H.P. Lovecraft tale to the screen, THE RESURRECTED is a slick adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The book is written as a series of recollections-within-recollections, a device that is retained for the film and
which proves one of its biggest problems.
The opening scene finds P. I. John March (John Terry) ruminating about his current, horrifying case. A flashback informs us how that case began. John is approached by Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett), who's become worried about her husband Charles (Chris Sarandon). It seems that he's been performing
strange experiments in the basement, and has been fixated on duplicating the results of his ancestor, Joseph Curwin (also played by Sarandon), who had been working to reanimate the dead. Curwen apparently did not come to a good end, and neither did his experiments: he wound up creating misshapen
monsters formed from human remains. This has not deterred Charles, however, who has ended up creating the same type of horrific creatures as his predecessor. But as John probes deeper and deeper into the case, he finds that these beasts are not as shocking as the ultimate result of Charles's
bizarre work. Descending into the catacombs beneath his house, the protagonists discover that Charles has not only revived Curwen's experiments, but Curwen himself.
THE RESURRECTED has quite a few good things going for it: vivid monster effects by Todd Masters; a screenplay by Brent V. Friedman that takes a respectful approach to the Lovecraft original; and strong direction by Dan O'Bannon. After scoring a cult classic with the comic chiller RETURN OF THE
LIVING DEAD, one might expect that O'Bannon would follow the lead of RE-ANIMATOR director Stuart Gordon and milk Lovecraft's material for gruesome black humor, but he plays the horrors refreshingly straight.
But fidelity to its source also results in the movie's biggest flaw. Although the multiple-flashback format lends the film a more literary feel than many of its ilk, it also stunts the story's dramatic development. The gambit just doesn't work on film, a medium which generally requires a more
streamlined form of storytelling, particularly in this genre. Nonetheless, O'Bannon does a good job of maintaining viewer interest; he allows the film to unfold at a deliberate pace, never stretching for cheap shocks or gratuitous use of the supernatural as a catch-all explanation for weird
events. Masters's monster creations are outrageously grotesque but pulled off convincingly, and there's an especially nice handling of the revelation of Charles's final deed (keep your eyes on the teeth).
For his part, Sarandon (DOG DAY AFTERNOON, THE PRINCESS BRIDE) performs his dual role quite well, with decent if unspectacular support from the rest of the cast. It's just a shame that all the time-hopping makes it hard to appreciate fully all of their efforts. With some patience, however, there
are rewards to be found in THE RESURRECTED, and if retaining the structure is problematic, at least this is one filmization of a book that's clearly working to approximate the tone of its source. (Violence, adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: An ambitious but not entirely successful attempt to bring another H.P. Lovecraft tale to the screen, THE RESURRECTED is a slick adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The book is written as a series of recollections-within-recollections, a device t… (more)