R for Resurrecting
Brent V. Friedman
The works of iconic horror writer and super-duper racist HP Lovecraft have been notoriously hit-and-miss when it comes to their adaptations to screen. For every Re-Animator or From Beyond you get everything that is not From Beyond or Re-Animator.
Lovecraft’s lesser adaptations like Dagon and Castle Freak have achieved minor cult status, but most have been forgettable. I did an online search of the best Lovecraft adaptations and even the more highly thought of ones really aren’t that great. Most of them have their individual moments, but they only underline how challenging Lovecraft is translate to a visual medium.
His writing was so out-there, his creatures so specific, his hatred for any race other than white was so strong, that only in our minds could the creatures Lovecraft created be truly rendered with appropriate terror.
Maybe with the exception of 2007’s Cthulhu. It remains a singularly stellar adaptation, despite the restrictions of its very low budget.
I chose to review a 90s Lovecraft adaptation The Resurrected for the most complex of reasons.
I found an old VHS copy that I had rented from a now-defunct movie rental chain I will not name but rhymes with the words “chalk duster” or “mock fluster”. I found out I owe $58,859 in late fees.
I thought I’d watch and review the movie before I finally returned it.
The Overly Revealing Trailer
Sorry, some of you may not know what the heck I’m talking about. Let’s recap…
Back in the 90s, we had these things called “videotapes”. I will now give you a moment to google what those are.
Instead of streaming them on Netflix or Shudder, we had to drive in our cars to places called “video stores”. We “rented” them for a set price and for a limited time. We had until the “due date” to return the “videotapes” before the due date or else we accrued “late fees.”
Yes, we actually had to drive back to the video rental place to physically return the tapes before the due date.
Life was hard.
Anyway, I “rented” The Resurrected some time in the 90s and I guessed I never returned the tape.
So I decided to watch it one last time before driving back to the year 1993 and finally return it.
We had to put these tapes in machines that played them. Much like your Blu-Ray players but at 7 times their size and weighing about 45 pounds.
The Resurrected opens with thick-haired private investigator John March (John Terry) talking into a miniature tape recorder. This was the 90s so by “miniature”, I mean it looks like he’s holding a phone book. I will give you a moment to google what a “phone book” is.
He looks worse for wear. He looks like life has kicked the living Lovecraft out of him.
March looks like he’s going into flashback mode. Not before he states that Charles Dexter Ward has escaped from an insane asylum and has left his suitcase (that is crazy). We will learn who Charles Dexter Ward is soon enough.
Let’s go back about a week ago…
John March is living the life of a moderately successful private detective. He’s got a secretary, and another detective who he can call to do random stuff for him. Life is good…until she walked through the door.
She looked like any other beautiful dame. But this dame was different. She brought a case that would change their lives…forever.
March is listening.
Jane recounts where Charles might have gone off the rails. She’s going into flashback mode.
Yes. Just deal with it.
Jane tells of Charles spending inordinate amounts of time in his personal workspace. Charles’ family is rich, so there are plenty of adjunct properties to do crazy things like…
Jane says random trucks come in with deliveries of animal remains.
March thinks nothing of it. All rich people have animal remains delivered to them.
Jane says random trucks come in with substantial amounts of blood bags and Charles has been spending time with a “Dr. Ash”. Doctor Ash wears a fake beard, a large hat, and overly large sunglasses.
March knows for a fact that rich people bring in trucks full of blood but—
His suspicion is aroused when Claire mentions Dr. Ash. Only a full-on degenerate would wear a fake beard and large hat.
Claire also says that Charles has moved out of the main house and into a more isolated property out in the country with Dr. Ash. Claire wants to hire March to find out what Charles is up to because before he left, he “smelled like death”.
John takes the case because she had him at “smelled like death”.
He may regret doing so because Claire may pay for the case with money, but March may pay for the case with his life!
What Works With The Resurrected
- Chris Sarandon’s jaunty (I don’t use that term lightly) performance as Charles. Sarandon is hamming it up and chewing scenery, but he looks like he’s the only one having fun in the movie. The other performances are dour and lackluster by comparison.
- A sequence set in a cellar is the closest the viewer comes to actually getting scared. It’s also the closest to actual Lovecraftian because those, um, things in the cellar are 90s nightmare fuel. If only the rest of the movie made you feel the way the cellar scenes do.
What Doesn't Work With The Resurrected
- You’ve been promised a horror movie, but the first 2 acts feel like a 30s detective noir but in color and without snappy dialogue. More than once you look at the VCR’s timer (yes, look up “VCR”) and wonder when the horror will begin. It begins way too late to salvage the rest of the movie. Some things just can’t be resurrected.
You don’t love this Lovecraft adaption, but you don’t hate it even though it’s mediocre at best. You’d be better off watching Re-Animator for the 20th time.
Buy The Resurrected Here!
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© 2019 Noel Penaflor