Home Video Hovel: The Resurrected, by David Bax
From the writer of Alien comes an intensely gory telling of an H.P. Lovecraft story filtered through mid-century detective noir. Sounds great, right? It’s really not. Though those noir elements–constant rain, droning voiceover–are charming, the acting is so uniformly bad (and from such a good cast) that the blame can only lie with the director. Between this and the bafflingly well-regarded The Return of the Living Dead, maybe Dan O’Bannon just wasn’t meant to direct movies.
John Terry (Zodiac, Lost) stars as John March, a private detective hired by by your standard wealthy, blonde bombshell type, Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett, from Friends), to investigate her husband, Charles (Chris Sarandon, who, with Fright Night, Child’s Play and The Sentinel, was already kind of a low key horror icon by this time). Charles has grown distant, spending nearly all his time out in the carriage house on their sprawling property, conducting experiments and receiving large shipments of meat, blood and some even more sinister products.
It’s a broad enough set-up that it could go anywhere and, in fact, it does to go some pretty interesting places, at least on paper. The problem is that nearly everything about The Resurrected is just so, well, bad. Mostly, it’s the performances. As laid out above, we’re working with a solid cast here, which also includes Fast Times at Ridgemont High‘s Robert Romanus. But the line readings are stiff and halting; all the jokes fall flat; no one behaves like a believable human being. The editing is awkward as hell, too, with characters occasionally seeming to be suddenly standing in a different place than they were a moment ago; but this could be chalked up to the decision to chop O’Bannon’s cut to pieces before unceremoniously dumping the remains on video.
Hey, speaking of remains, that brings me to the best part of The Resurrected. Whatever else is going on with the rest of the movie, the creature and make-up effects are terrific and terrifically gory. The things that come out of Charles’ lab are bloody, pulsing grotesqueries that were clearly designed and assembled with care and passion by effects artist Todd Masters. Pair them with things like O’Bannon’s choice to include apparently real, close-up footage of eyeball surgery and you’ve got some truly unsettling stuff. But, without a halfway decent movie to fold it all into, it can be no more than just that. Stuff.
Shout! Factory’s transfer is a 2K scan of an interpositive. It’s quite good, with very few instances of dirt or artifacts. There’s plenty of depth to the blacks, as well. A lengthy underground sequence lit by flashlight and lanterns looks great. The audio is stereo.
The plentiful special features include a new interview with Sibbett; a new interview with Lovecraft biographer S.T. Joshi; a commentary with Romanus, Masters, producers Mark Borde and Kenneth Raich and screenwriter Brent V. Friedman; interviews with Sarandon, Masters Friedman, composer Richard Band and production designer Brent Thomas; and deleted/extended scenes from O’Bannon’s workprint.