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John’s Horror Corner: The Resurrected (1991), a most pleasant Lovecraftian surprise

August 3, 2013

MY CALL:  What a pleasant surprise!  Good gore, a story that kept me curious and odd creature-effects outweighed the blaring acting and film-adapted writing flaws.  Fans of gore and H. P. Lovecraft should definitely try out this little gem and enjoy.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  I was quite pleased with the Lovecraft adaptation Dagon (2001).  Also try Hellraiser (1987) and The Re-Animator (1985) for serious gore and weird tones.  ALTERNTATE TITLEShatterbrain, I have no clue why.

Watching this movie you’ll find yourself frequently asking “what is THAT?”

This nifty Lovecraftian film is about a man who finds the lab journals of an old ancestor and is drawn into continuing his work–however morally questionable it may be.   Private detective John March, the narrator of our story, is approached by Claire Ward about her husband Charles Dextor Ward (Chris Sarandon; Fright Night remake and original, Child’s Play, Bordello of Blood) and why exactly he moved out of their home and especially why he requires suspicious quantities of meat and blood delivered for his mysterious experiments.  Charles’ laboratory, a secluded house, has a local reputation for wreaking of carrion.  Hmmmm…

What is THAT for?

While all Lovecraft-adaptations diverge from the actual stories, the better ones retain strong elements amid modernizations.   Director Dan O’Bannon (Return of the Living Dead and writer of Alien, Life Force, Total Recall, Screamers, Bleeders and the Total Recall remake, among many others) follows suit accordingly with heavy weird tones, a general adoration for the macabre and a powerful element of mystery that prods viewers’ curiosity into wondering the same things as Charles’ estranged wife.  “What is he working on at the house?  Why does he need all that meat? What is that smell?”

Based on H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” this adaptation is far from action-packed.  Instead, it follows Lovecraftian suit with horror that prods at your curiosity.  It is one of the better Lovecraft adaptations I have yet seen, with some disturbing images and ambiance.  It captures the atmosphere and the alchemy, the darkness and the “less is more” approach that leave haunting little shadows staring at its viewer, and it feeds the imagination. Another reason it is worth tasting is because it also leads the viewer forward, tempting them to keep going in order to unravel the mystery of what has happened.

As Dr. Ward, Chris Sarandon does a fine job.  He captures the tone and the horror of discovery well.  Missing the mark and deviating far from the purpose of the film is the grossly over-focused attention to a (pointless) romantic interest between Ward’s wife and the detective.  This side-story is handled poorly and inconsistently, as if the writer couldn’t decide whether to escalate the romance or not.  But, ill-placed romantic subplot aside, this is about as smart a film as we could hope for providing such a tiny budget.  As Lovecraft wrote of utilizing the “essential saltes” of an organism to bring it back from the dead, Ward’s work is suggestive of genetic experimentation and cloning.  Unfortunately for Ward, the results were not exactly as he expected.

What’s a Lovecraft story with out a dash of madness?

What is THAT?

Lots of gore, blood and various remains.  We enjoy great zombie (i.e., animated dead flesh) effects,  some off-putting surgical imagery and surreal dream sequences.  The monster effects and action are limited largely to the very end, but it’s all well worth the wait.  There are LOADS of special effects in the third act.  Some classic, refreshing stop-motion and claymation action as well as creature make-ups.

What are those evil dead hands doing?

This film was a really nice surprise.  REALLY.  This is for lovers of gore, the macabre, Lovecraft, dark horror films and worthy horror stories.

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