Column: Slicing Score: The Resurrected (1991)

By Maria Mitchell

The Resurrected (1991). Composer: Richard Band.

When one continues to do something that wasn’t respected the first time around, is it determination or idiocy? Some people (though not many) would rather be a fool than a success by virtue of standards they do not agree with. That brings me to the story of “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. Joseph Curwin isn’t afraid to put his aspirations on hold for a while. A long while. Especially when he knows his descendant will provide the perfect host to his plan’s continuation, once Curwin is resurrected in Ward’s body.

The music never has to back down from accentuating the film. It lacks humour and awkwardness. It’s mostly a coverlet for the story. It is interesting but stronger than “pretty”. Time respects no one. HPL had a dislike of time. He did not want to see time ravage the things he cared about, but there wasn’t much he could do about that. What stands out about this soundtrack is not only its moodiness, but the fact that it’s almost quiet and tranquil in many parts. It’s like a peek into the naïve mind of Ward, as he lets himself be taken over by the spirit of his ancestor. He slowly has his identity pulled out of him and the music relates what is left of it.

The CD notes discuss the music descending into lower levels of sound in order to mimic the lower levels of the Ward estate. Clarinets, contrabasses and bassoons are some of the instruments that are referenced. The effect is good, but I don’t think the lowest instrument that can be invented has been invented yet. The music is as low as present-day instrumentation can allow it to be. I can think of some pretty low tones I’ve heard in words, rather than in music, which are lower (in the base sense of the word) than music usually plumbs. Words usually have more menace than music, but that can be a challange to a scorist: to think of the worst image from a fictional text and then to think of a sound that eclipses that horror. Think of a sound that pulls apart the syllables of the diction. Many good scores come from a basis of words and The Resurrected is no exception. The Resurrected is dark and menacing; it creates a narcolepsy that makes it relaxing. Think auditory valium.

HPL, by some footnoted accounts, walked with a stoop. Ward, in the film, doesn’t walk with a stoop, but after his transformation into Curwin, he hunches over while he walks. Some of the music hobbles alongside him. Curwin needs Ward, but Ward doesn’t need Curwin, and Curwin has no respect for Ward’s life. This is how Ward becomes the victim, because he, like most of Lovecraft’s protagonists, does not understand the danger he is being threatened with and allows himself to be consumed by it. This motif is repeated again and again in Lovecraft stories. The source of this inertia is that the Lovecraftian protagonist has learned what he was trying to learn.

This score paints the musical shadow of Charles Ward’s house. Some scores create shadows that are distorted and menacing, but there’s a dignity to this one that is nice to hear. I recommend this soundtrack to those with an interest in H.P. Lovecraft’s original story because it captures the oddness of the text and the uncertainties of Ward’s life.

The Resurrected soundtrack is available at Amazon.com.