Movies simply can’t do HP Lovecraft*. You have to accept that as a starting point. You’re mostly going to get Stuart Gordon doing deviant things to Barbara Crampton or Jeffrey Coombs chewing scenery. So you should appreciate any movie that manages, however slightly, to evoke Lovecraft more faithfully. That’s the main thing The Resurrected has going for it. It’s loosely based on Lovecraft’s Case of Charles Dexter Ward, but not as loosely as other Lovecraft movies are based on their source material. By the time director Dan O’Bannon made this in 1992, he had earned his genre stripes with Dark Star, Alien, Return of the Living Dead, and the underappreciated Dead and Buried. He had obviously seen a lot of Dario Argento movies as well.
The Resurrected starts out as a slightly clumsy but winsome attempt at an old timey detective noire. This is obvious from the opening credits, soundtrack, and voiceover. John “Hawk the Slayer” Terry and his hopelessly 80s haircut stand in for what I presume was supposed to a hard-boiled protagonist. He’s more poached, or even over-easy. When the hot woman comes into his agency to enlist help finding her missing husband, Terry insists twice that he needs the husband’s social security number.
Jane Sibbett is delightfully awful as the distraught wife. Ten years later, she will be the voice of one of the snow dogs that vexes Cuba Gooding Jr. Chris Sarandon is cast probably because of his vampire role in Fright Night and I couldn’t help but notice he appears in a rather effeminate robe, much like he did in Dog Day Afternoon. The most watchable guy in this movie is Robert Romanus, who you’ll remember as Damone from Fast Times at Ridgement High. So this is where that guy went!
By unfolding as a mystery, The Resurrected captures the investigation aspect of Lovecraft’s stories most often ignored in movies in favor of monsters and magical rites. The Resurrected has its share of monsters and magical rites, but it earns them first. O’Bannon’s previous experience serves him well with the special effects and a nifty dungeon crawl sequence. By the time it’s over, you can almost forgive The Resurrected its “wizard did it” resolution, featuring something unfortunately called “the reflux”. Go ahead, try not to think of the Duran Duran song.
The Resurrected, which somehow came to be listed as Shatterbrain on IMDB, is avaiable on Netflix instant watch.