(Submitted by his Goon-y Greatness, Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)
The works of H.P. Lovecraft have been adapted (or at the very least, influenced) many, many times over the years across numerous mediums, most notably video games and movies. I’m sure the Stuart Gordon/Brian Yuzna Re-Animator films or From Beyond come to mind and arguably the most stylish and better adaptations, even if they aren’t fairly accurate. They are modern re-tellings of the source material, but there was a time in the early ‘90s when it felt like there were a handful of H.P. Lovecraft films that came out direct video and kinda fell into the void of forgotten films.
It’s not the fault of the films by any stretch of the imagination, but I believe the blame can be (at least mostly) blamed at the feet of the distributors who seemed to get cold feet when it comes to releasing these films. They don’t seem to want to put the money into making these films, yet except big returns and they can’t quite seem to decide if they want it to be PG-13 or R. Although an example like Necronomicon: Book of the Dead is pretty hard R, The Resurrected comes to mind when I think of a missed opportunity and can’t quite seem to decide what it wants to be. On one end, you have the late and talented Dan O’Bannon directing, but you can’t help to feel he was held back. They hire the guy who wrote a draft of Alien and has other phenomenal writing credits, such as Return of the Living Dead, and essentially shackle him down from doing what he wants. The gore is – or was at the time this film was released – not necessarily tame, but definitely dialed down, the same could be said about the language. The Resurrected has a bit of a case of mistaken identity that it’s too tame for something that would be a theatrical release, but perhaps too much for a TV movie, so it should be no surprise that this was a direct to video release.
Still, for being strapped down to an operating table, The Resurrected still manages to be fun and has that early DTV charm that works in its favor. The thing is shot like a made for TV movie, but has higher ambitions even if the budget won’t allow it. This also plays into the cast and their performances, most notably Chris Sarandon who chew so much goddamn scenery that I’m surprised he didn’t turn into a rat and eat all of the dry wall. His performance as the antagonist is cheeky fun and the same could be said for Jane Sibbett who seems to be putting a PS1 era Resident Evil performance (and I mean that in a good way), but unfortunately not for the lead John Terry, who took me til the end of the film for me to recognize that he was Lt. Lockhart in Full Metal Jacket. Now, I think the man is a terrific actor, I just feel like he was wrong for the part. He’s not quite sleepwalking through his role, but feels subdued and that could be because of the confused narrative of the film. And that ‘90s mullet he’s rocking. Get out of here with that nonsense.
The Resurrected sees John Terry as John March, a private detective that’s been hired by Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett) to investigate her husband, Charles (Chris Sarandon), who has been conducting experiments out of his home and eventually out to an old farmhouse where you can assume only the kookiest of mad scientist shenanigans happen. Charles has been becoming increasingly obsessed with his ancestor Joseph Curwen and eventually Charles quits coming home altogether. This is where John March comes in, who upon his investigation, find that Joseph Curwen had been trying to raise the dead and wouldn’t you know it, Charles is acting rather change. Like, he’s talking like he’s from a previous century and his teeth look like burnt pieces of corn. Yes, what is happening is that obvious, so this mystery isn’t so much of a mystery as it is a race to what you already know and for a movie that clocks in at about an hour and forty-five minutes, it can seem at times like it’s going to take a while.
Upon discovering this, John March just kind of accepts it. He seems rather indifferent, but I think that’s the laid back acting style of John Terry seeping through. His crack assistant Lonnie, who I think is supposed to offer the comic relief, but it often falls flat, and even Claire don’t believe him. That is, until they discover a hatch in the old farmhouse that leads to Joseph Curwen’s secret catacombs, sorta like his own personal Batcave. There’s all kinds of weird beakers and tubes with science-y liquids and human remains… some of which seem to be up and walking around. Suddenly, the film breaks into a really weak zombie flick seeing as how there’s only a handful of creatures. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a slow burn, but the majority of this movie is them beating around the bush and trying to solve something you figured out in the first fifteen minutes. This leads John March to confront Joseph Curwen, where you get to see him tear off an orderly’s head with ease as it shoots out blood and that’s not a bad thing.
Right away, the big problem I had with the film was the old fashioned noir setting and storytelling in this contemporary film. When done right it can work (think of something like Sin City), but maybe it’s the writing or as I mentioned the way this movie is shot, it doesn’t work. John March narrates the events occasionally and the film is told in a flashback form that doesn’t mesh a ‘40s mystery style with a low budget ‘90s gore flick. Throw in some over the top performances and it feels more like a spoof that it does an homage. I was genuinely surprised to learn that this was originally slated for a theatrical release, but the releasing company’s bankruptcy halted that and The Resurrected was then sent DTV, which I feel is a better fit and most likely found more of an audience.
Another negative the film has going against was the number of cliches and The Resurrected is a repeat offender. It tries the same cliches again and again, like it truly believes at some point they just might work. Apparently, the film was taken away from director Dan O’Bannon during editing and he completely disowned this movie and honestly speaking, you can kinda tell. It doesn’t quite live up to the type of quality that’s usually associated with his name. As someone who puts his work out there for others to see, I can respect where he’s coming from, but I don’t think the movie was that bad. Sure, it had it’s share of problems and never lived up to its full potential, but I think it has a charm and is kind of fun.
Speaking of fun, there are a few clever creature designs that do look pretty decent… at first, but the more the camera lingers on them, the more it starts to look like a rubber puppet. Most of the gore happens off screen and you just take a look at the aftermath, as if they had the budget to show it, but not show it happening or perhaps they thought it built mood and suspense (spoiler, it doesn’t). There is the aforementioned head ripping scene that I thought was pretty cool and impressive for the budget, but outside of that the film doesn’t offer much to look at. Even the cinematography is pretty dull and is shot like a TV movie and I even assumed it was at times, but occasionally swearing proved otherwise. It’s not a prime example of either a well adapted H.P. Lovecraft story or the excellent work of Dan O’Bannon, but that doesn’t stop it from trying and that shows, making this film pretty decent and giving it a sense that care was put into making this. I would say check it out for some low budget, ‘90s DTV fun.