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Since the beginning of time, man has struggled with death. Now Charles Dexter Ward (Chris Sarandon, Fright Night), a wealthy scientist, may have found a way to beat it. Using an ancient diary and human remains, Ward begins a terrifying and bloody pursuit for immortality. By the time his wife Claire (Jane Sibbett, Arrival II) hires private investigator John March (John Terry, Full Metal Jacket) to halt the horrible experiments, its too late … the dead have been resurrected!
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We are all getting the "Hollywood-rip-off"!!!!!
It makes me want to become a director!!!
**Yes, it's a decent flick to see. Sorry for the venting!! (I'm a Scorpio.)
With a modern day setting - 1991 at the time of filming - the story adds a private investigator to the mix, John March (John Terry), hired by Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett) to snoop out an explanation for her husband's unusual behavior. Charles Dexter Ward (Chris Sarandon) just hasn't been the same after discovering the personal effects of his distant relative, Joseph Curwen (also played by Sarandon in a dual role), moving out of the family home to conduct mysterious scientific experiments with nosy interruptions.
March's investigation only raises more questions: why is Ward speaking in such a formal Olde English manner...who are his strange associates...and what smells so god-awful behind the locked door to the basement? Eventually, Claire has her husband committed to a mental institution to evaluate his psychotic state and strange craving for human flesh. Meanwhile, a search of the house where he'd been working turns up a menagerie of half-finished monsters and an awful family secret that just won't stay dead!
Director Dan O'Bannon, although a genre legend thanks to his screenplay for Alien, was only heading behind the camera for the second time in his career, the first being 1985's entertaining zombie flick The Return of the Living Dead. But where that film played fast and loose with horror conventions, leaning more towards comedy than straight-up scares, The Resurrected goes for a much more serious tone. The script by Brent V. Friedman stays faithful to the spirit of Lovecraft's story, plunging our hero into the depths of demonic alchemy, facing off against fleshy afterbirth aberrations that threaten not just his sanity but also his very soul.
But the inexperience of both creators shows in the final product. O'Bannon (who was supposedly quite ill during the shoot) lays on the film noir angle too thick, introducing Claire in nostalgic Bogey / Bacall fashion, then overlights the proceedings with the bland efficiency of a corporate instructional video. Things improve as the movie develops, including a spooky underground set where Ward has abandoned his less successful experiments. But even here, the budget prevents O'Bannon from truly capturing Lovecraft's prose in all its deformed glory.
The Resurrected's true ace-in-hole is Chris Sarandon. With a series of genre credits to his name (The Sentinel, Fright Night and Child's Play), the actor obviously didn't look down on the material and his performance, which could have easily turned into a campy retread of Vincent Price-style histrionics, anchors the film in a twisted sort of reality. His line readings, often direct quotations from Lovecraft's text, make even the most preposterous supernatural braggadocio sound convincing. Sure, a bit of Prince Humperdink from The Princess Bride sneaks in from time to time, but even that works in an almost inexplicably entertaining way.
As to whether this is the best cinematic adaptation of Lovecraft, the debate rages on. For my money, John Carpenter (ironically, O'Bannon's creative partner on their first film, Dark Star) came the closest with In the Mouth of Madness (1994), but it's only inspired by the author's work, not a true adaptation, if you want to be picky. The Resurrected wins points for sticking close to its source material and generating some real atmosphere along the way.
Scream Factory delivers a solid hi-def transfer (the film went straight-to-video upon release so a theatrical comparison is impossible), a 2K scan of the interpositive, and pulls out all the stops when it comes to extras. Besides an excellent group effort audio commentary with contributions from the filmmaking team (O'Bannon passed away in 2009) there are interviews with Jane Sibbett, Chris Sarandon, Brent V. Friedman and composer Richard Band. Of even more interest to those longtime fans of the films, about 20 minutes of deleted and extended scenes are included. Taken from a workprint, there's not enough here to change the course of the film, but it's interesting to see extra character beats and romantic subplots. Scream Factory's release shows a lot of love for this little film that still lingers in many a fan's memory.
This is one of my standards at Halloween or any time I want a well written/well acted horror story. It truly is creepy and though while mild by many standards since it is not a slice and dice or a sadistic blood orgy with torture and mutilation as the comic relief: It's a class act. Many people forget that our own imaginations, let loose and allowed to flow like a good blood transfusion, thrive on what you don't see, what you don't hear. Even worse, maybe...
I love this film, it's well worth watching and coming back to revisit for some good ol' scary story telling. I have studied film to write, as a technician and director/producer. If I ever get a chance to create a magical world for the silver screen, I hope I can give the audience something that matches the great elements of this story, brought to life to scare the wits of those who understand what really makes a scary movie.
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