Alternate Titles: The Ancestor, Shatterbrain
Synopsis: A private investigator is hired to look into the increasingly bizarre behavior of Charles Dexter Ward.
• An overall well executed adaptation of one of HP Lovecrafts more overlong stories, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
• Chris Sarandon played his dual role of Ward and Joseph Curwen perfectly.
• Continues to be one of the most bizarre and unique confluences of mad-science, resurrection, and occult ever put onto film.
• Like the story that spawned it, the film moves perhaps too slowly for today’s audience.
• Might be too bizarre for those unaccustomed to the extravagant oddities of weird fiction.
• The investigative frame story was not as well executed as it was in the source material, with changes that seemed more fanboy-esque than necessary (i.e. renaming the lesser known “Willett” into the more lovecraftian sounding “March”) .
It can be very difficult to closely adapt any piece of weird fiction for today’s audience. The ones that seemed to understand at all what happened might have lost their sanity or even humanity by the end. It was not an uncommon plot twist for the main character to learn that their experience was no accident, and that they were always intricately connected with the humanly unknowable madness. That was certainly the case for Charles Dexter Ward. His ancestor, Curwen, called him, igniting his curiosity, yet that ancestor merely used him to cheat death. Such selfish things must come with consequence, but Curwen cared about nothing but immortality. This was easily one of Lovecraft’s most harsh and direct “what if” stories. Hopefully, if we ever had the chance to meet an ancestor, they will not be as horrid as Curwen.
Rotten Tomatoes — N/A