“The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” (1927)

Creators

H. P. Lovecraft (writer).

Commentary

It could and should have been polished, but it’s rich. Lovecraft even takes pains to undergird his usual multigenerational retrophilic fantasy by having the wizard Curwen manipulate his own bloodline for a practical reason: his own future resurrection. It’s James’s “A View from a Hill” (1925) blown up to a massive scale.

fiction text

Adaptation:

The Resurrected (1991) IMDb

Extent

Seen in 2016.

Subject

The 1918 part of the novella’s plot is forward-ported to a private detective agency in the style of the novella’s 1941 publication date, but in a contemporary—ca. 1991—setting with speaking parts for women. The 1771 part of the plot is left in place.

Commentary

Lax direction, editing and acting; only Chris Sarandon does any impressive work in front of the camera, and that only in bits. Awkward attempts at comedy, especially Lonnie and Holly listening at the door, and “Doctor Ash” trying out his goofy beard. The pacing is good and the animatronic effects work is passable, but the dungeon crawl feels contrived. The biggest problem is with the whole-hearted embrace of artificiality and theatricality—including a 555 number—rejecting a more naturalistic or faithful approach, seemingly out of hand. Lovecraft’s original supernatural premisses are tweaked for cartoonish amounts of blood.

fiction moving picture