One horror author that has proven to be difficult to adapt to the big screen is H.P. Lovecraft. Sure, films like "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond" are all great fun (especially "Re-Animator"), but as adaptations, they fall short. So far, there are only a few films that have managed to faithfully turn one of Lovecraft's stories into something as good as the source material. One movie that nearly get's that done right is Dan O'Bannon's take on "The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward" called "The Resurrected."
Private Detective John March (John Terry) has been enlisted by Claire Ward (Jane Sibbet) to find out what her husband Charles (Chris Sarandon) has been doing in an old cabin. The odd smells and deliveries of human remains have been raising suspicions (well duh), and an old diary of one of Charles' ancestors dating back to the late 1700's has been found. The more they find out, the more they realize that Charles has been up to some experiments, and that there is more to him than they know.
"The Resurrected" was one of those movies that ended up going straight to VHS in the early 90's, and has since remained largely in obscurity, even after it's DVD release. So far, only some hardcore horror fans and Lovecraft devotees have been championing it's lost classic status. To be honest, it is a very good, and mostly very faithful adaptation. The film oozes the kind of other worldly, cosmic menace that the best of Lovecraft's works can do, with creatures that are malformed beyond recognition, surreal images, evil spells, wizards and so much more. Meanwhile, Chris Sarandon delivers a chilling performance as Charles Dexter Ward, creating a sense of real menace as the film goes on. The score by Richard Band is also choice, and may be some of his best work in a genre film.
There are two things that end up keeping it from reaching classic status. One of them is the constant use of narration, which proves to be more jarring than helpful. We know what's going on, so there's no need for someone to try and explain it to us. Also, while a fine movie, rumor has it that it isn't the actual final cut of the movie, and at times it shows. You can tell some scenes were either left out or cut up, and you end up wondering what the director's cut is like.
It might not be a stone cold classic, but "The Resurrected" is one of the more faithful Lovecraft adaptations, and is a must for fans of the author. It would have been nice if Lionsgate had given the viewer some special features though.