Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's lengthy novelette "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" (written 1927, first published 1941), Dan O'Bannon's Resurrected (1992) introduces us to an private eye John Marsh (John Terry), who tells us the tale of Charles, a mental asylum escapee.
With a tough-guiy private-eye edge to his narration, we learn that Charles Dexter Ward (Chris Sarandon) had been performing occult experients with his friend, the weird Dr. Ash. With Marsh's assistant Lonnie (Robert Romanus) & supported by his secretary Holly (Laurie Briscoe), an otherworldly tale unfolds before them.
The acting is by no means top-drawer, but everyone's bad acting has an odd sameness as though they'd been instructed to perform in a slightly somnambulant or emotionless state. It does lend the the tale an off-kilter & dreamlike tone.
Charles Ward's experiments with the corpses of long-dead sorcerers stolen from old European graveyards resulted in the presence of Ash, whose full identity will be a revelation. John Marsh's investigation connects him unpleasantly with these events, so that he becomes haunted by horrific dreams in frightful counterpoint to murder & inexplicable mystery.
An addict with a weird eye, Raymond Chang (Patrick Pon), is Ward's hideous guard, who stands between the occult scientist & the outside world, & Ward has finally cut himself off even from his wife.
But Ward has himself become frightened & has warned his wife Claire (Jane Sibbett) never to go near Ash.
When next Claire & Marsh encounter Charles, he's clearly physically ill, & his personality is much changed. He speaks in the antique manner of his own ancestor, the sorcerer Joseph Curwen. He's eventually carted off to the loony bin in straightjacket, with his experiments only half complete. "You have made the most damnable mistake!" he warns his captors.
Charles further warns his doctor (Bernard Cuffling) that if he will not feed him blood, the hunger will have terrible results for everyone. His homicidal, cannibalistic impulses have become increasingly difficult to restrain.
A flashback to Joseph Curwen's era includes an amazingly creepy sequence of a disemboweled but living being, a resurrected corpse that was incomplete.
It is soon burnt alive & the villagers set out as a mob against the sorcerer they well know created the horrible thing.
In the present, while Charles is locked up, private eye Marsh, together with Claire, & Marsh's assistant Lonnie, find beneath Ward's farmhouse a sealed entry to a cavernous underground. Marsh's assistant is someone I kept thinking of as the guy in the red shirt in Star Trek.
In a subterranean library they discover a handwritten grimoire composed by Joseph Curwen, on the art of returning life to human remains. Beyond the library is an alchemical laboratory & catacomb of cremation jars of history's greatest sorcerers.
And there's a pit of monstrous, writhing flesh -- the half-failures at resurrection.
With this discovery, it's time for Lonnie to get eaten. Creature-feature thrills proceed apace, not at all badly done despite such cliches as the flashlight going out at an untimely moment, & the hoary old "only one match left" routine.
John Marsh just happened to bring bombs with him, cuz hey, you might forget to bring better flashlights if you're on a journey to the underworld, but you sure never know when you might need a bunch of bombs. He strews these about before he & Claire leave the subterranean world.
There is one more horrific scene to come, of Ward in the madhouse, & how he seemingly "escaped" & certainly disappeared, after Marsh figured out how Ward was actually Curwen.
Ward brings a suitcase of the bones of the real Ward, which will result in a final cartoony yet rather spectacular wrestlemania sequence between Curwen & Ward's skeleton, with Chris Sarandon really putting his all into making it horrifying.
The cinematography often falls to the level of made-for-cable & director Dan O'Bannon was having some slight trouble overcoming too many budget restraints. Even so, The Resurrected is a fine film of type, making good use of Lovecraft's story, with even the liberties taken with the original interesting & respectful.
Even with its small faults, The Resurrected is possibly the first well done Lovecraft adaptation after Stuart Gordon's lovecraftian excursions with Re-Animator (1985) & From Beyond (1986).
Continue to more H. P. Lovecraft:
Castle Freak (1995)
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl