Shout! Factory sublabel Scream Factory has come a long way in the five and a half years since they first appeared on the scene in 2012 with Halloween II. What was once a company focused on big name horror films missing from Blu-ray, has become as much a niche distributor as some of the smaller companies, grabbing oft requested films and doing the work to get them out in the best editions possible. Two recent releases that caught my eye are the recent US Blu-ray debuts of Dan O'Bannon's Lovecraft adaptation The Resurrected, and Tom DeSimone's '80s ghost story Hell Night. Both films have been requested by horror fans for years and Scream was finally able to make it happen. Are these upgrades worth your money? Check out the gallery reviews below for more details.
The Resurrected, Dan O'Bannon's second and final feature as a director, was a film that I'd been meaning to see for many years in the lead up to Scream Factory's announcement that they had licensed it for the US last year. O'Bannon is the director of my all-time favorite film, The Return of the Living Dead, and perhaps part of my hesitance to dig deeper and find The Resurrected to view was based on a bit of trepidation on my part. Did I really want to watch his only other film only to find that it was a mess and lower my opinion of the man? In retrospect, it's a pretty juvenile fear to have, but no one has ever accused me of being anything but juvenile, so I'll own up to it.
So, in the name of facing my fears, I popped the film in and was pleasantly surprised. The Resurrected is a relatively faithful adaptation of horror lit legend H. P. Lovecraft's The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward, one of his most enduring, and most frequently tapped works. It tells the story of a scientist named Charles Dexter Ward (Chris Sarandon in all his early '90s glory) who may have found a way to cheat death. He holes up in a country farmhouse as he propels himself and his soul deeper into darkness through witchcraft and some ancient remains, and things quickly get really, really gross. His wife Claire (Jane Sibbett) begins to worry and enlists the help of private eye John March (John Terry) to help her save her husband from madness, but it may already be too late. The film hurdles toward in impressively gross climactic battle that will have practical FX nuts salivating with delight.
In terms of the film's connection to O'Bannon's prior work, there really isn't much of any connective tissue at all, either thematically or in terms of style. Return is a horror comedy, the greatest horror comedy in my opinion, while The Resurrected stays fairly close to the lines of Lovecraft's story. Chris Sarandon isn't exactly built for comedy, though he makes an excellent straight-man, and his unique style of elocution works incredibly well as his character begins to morph from one thing to another in the film. His co-stars acquit themselves adequately, but it's hard to find room to have your own performance stand out when Sarandon has successfully chewed every inch of scenery on the set.
While The Resurrected is a lot of fun, a comedy it is not, and this makes it more ordinary than extraordinary. Perfectly passable early '90s horror with some standout set pieces toward the end and a gleefully evil performance from Sarandon.
The Resurrected has only ever been on DVD in the US, but it did receive a Blu-ray release in Germany a couple of years back which was, by all accounts, dreadful. Scream Factory makes up for those shortcomings with a brand new 2K scan of the interpositive making this easily the finest A/V presentation available anywhere. The colors are rich, the image is as sharp as one might expect from mid-budget features in the late '80s-early '90s, and I have no issues recommending this video presentation. Audio is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track (erroneously labeled as 5.1 on the cover) that won't blow your mind, but does an effective job with the sound effects and dialogue.
Scream have gone above and beyond in terms of extras by adding a couple of new solid features on top of previously available material. Interviews with actress Jane Sibbet and author S. T. Joshi probe the experiences on set and the film's place in the Lovecraft oeuvre, respectively. On top of that are a number of solid archival materials like interviews with Sarandon, an audio commentary with Producers Mark Borde & Kenneth Raich, writer Brent V Friedman, FX artist Todd Masters and actor Robert Romanus, and tons of other interviews with composer Charles Band, production designer Brent Thomas, footage of the film at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards in 1991 (featuring Bruce Campbell and Quentin Tarantino), trailers and TV spots and deleted and extended scenes round out the mix.
This is about as deluxe an edition of The Resurrected as one could possibly hope for, and I'm happy to give it a hearty recommendation.