Monday, March 2, 2009

Film Review: THE RESURRECTED (1992, Dan O'Bannon)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 108 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: John Terry (ER, Christian Shepherd on LOST), Chris Sarandon (DOG DAY AFTERNOON, CUBA), Robert Romanus (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH), Jane Sibbett (FRIENDS).
Tag-lines: None.
Best one-liner(s): "Strong as my hunger for knowledge may be, my hunger for food is so much stronger."

THE RESURRECTED, based on THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD, is, as many have said, truly one of the most successful H.P. Lovecraft adaptations. Dan O'Bannon has translated Lovecraftian elements to the screen before (DEAD AND BURIED, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), but here he sheds most of his E.C. Comics and comedic leanings in order to play it straight.

The film suffers from two key weaknesses that prevent it from becoming a bona fide classic- A., some of the acting, especially Jane Sibbett (FRIENDS) is godawful, and B., the cacophonous 'poor man's Hollywood' orchestral soundtrack detracts heavily from the film.
Other than that, however, John Terry (LOST) shines as our entry point and private investigator, Chris Sarandon is completely unhinged and terrifying, the pre-CGI effects are creative and unnerving, and the build of the story is even-handed and realistic.

This Lovecraft adaptation works because it knows what made his writing work. Frequently these films gloss over Lovecraft's antiquarian obsessions, scientific explanations, and twisted family histories, choosing to just jump straight to the fantastic elements: 'There's a monster!' 'People are rising from the dead!' And that's cheap, generic, and the reason why many of these films go straight to video. Who cares! Anybody can jump straight to the monster. Lovecraft had finesse. O'Bannon realizes that most of Lovecraft's scares come from the realistically slow unfurling of the story and the ever-encroaching madness that makes the fantastic explanations believable. Four stars.

-Sean Gill


Azathoth said...

Sorry, just couldn't get into it. It tries, has good FX, good acting, but for some reason it didn't click with me. The action just seemed off. I would recommend the film though, because I can see many people liking it. Don't let me scare you off, just wasn't for me.

Anonymous said...

This movie is one of my favorites.

Perzephone said...

I still have occasional disturbing dreams about the ... things in the cisterns. This movie is definitely one of the creepier ones I've watched.