Charles Dexter Ward's wife enlists the help of a private detective to find out what her husband is up to in a remote cabin owned by his family for centuries. The husband is a chemical ... See full summary »
Charles Dexter Ward's wife enlists the help of a private detective to find out what her husband is up to in a remote cabin owned by his family for centuries. The husband is a chemical engineer, and the smells from his experiments (and the delivery of what appear to be human remains at all hours) are beginning to arouse the attention of neighbors and local law enforcement officials. When the detective and wife find a diary of the husband's ancestor from 1771, and reports of gruesome murders in the area begin to surface, they begin to suspect that some very unnatural experiments are being conducted in the old house. Based on an H.P. Lovecraft story. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward comes alive...again!
This is probably one of the best commercial-adaptations of an H.P Lovecraft story I have seen yet, although Stuart Gordon's "Dagon" is probably equal in capturing the atmospherics of Lovecraft's stories. What I found most-amazing about this adaptation is that it comes-off as "clinical" as the original--kind-of like reading a Police-report or an affidavit from a cold-case. In-fact, it's to Dan O'Bannon's credit that he insisted on making this a contemporary detective-story on its surface. A Private Detective is more-familiar to audiences than a long-winded psychaitrist, and honestly, anchors the story more-firmly in a reality we're familiar-with. This ho-hum world is so familiar, the director really creates a greater sense-of-shock when that reality shatters. This is in-keeping with Lovecraft, who would often keep the reader waiting until the very-end of his tales for the horrible-revelations. It should also be said that it rains throughout the entire film, which goes a long-way in creating an East Coast atmosphere that is spot-on in the Lovecratian-sense. Add to this the extraordinary score by Richard Band (who scored "Reanimator" and "From Beyond"), the incredible makeup by Tom Masters, and some really great cinematography, and you get one of the finer-moments in horror. Recounting much of the plot line will only ruin the experience, so I will refrain from doing-so.
But there is even more: Chris Sarandon's performance as Charles Dexter Ward and Joseph Curwen is easily on-par with those of Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff--even Vincent Price at his best, a performance for the ages. You honestly believe that Sarandon is an individual who has somehow found a way to reach-across-time from the 18th Century to exist in our own. It is an enigmatic and chilling performance, and one of the greatest realizations of 18th Archaic English-dialect I have ever heard from any actor. Even Sarandon's countenance and movements strike one as a being from a foreign-land: the distant, colonial-past. Yes, the DVD is now available from Lion's Gate, and it is definitely passable. But, it really should have been released in O'Bannon's director's cut, and Widescreen and in 5.1 stereo. The cut still exists, but it appears that the studio is more-interested in milking this property with no investment in restoration or even a minimal-treatment for we-the-fans, who have been short-changed. All-said, the film is strong enough to overcome all of this, and I still recommend you find a copy for yourself. Not a film without imperfections, "The Resurrected" is still effective in its goal of conveying Lovecraft's "cosmic horror," and the depravity at-heart of the desire for immortality. This is how horror looks, sounds...and smells. Welcome to an alchemical-horror, with mankind at the center.
PS: When I saw this on cable 10+ years-ago, there was a scene (described in the book, the "Lurker in the Lobby") of the Detective overlaying a photo of Charles Dexter Ward with an image of Curwen's skull, and matching-exactly. Was this the director's cut?
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