Color, 1999, 107 mins.

Directed by Russell Mulcahy

Starring Christopher Lambert, Barbara Tyson, Leland Orser, Robert Joy, David Cronenberg, Rick Fox / Written by Brad Mirman / Music by Jim McGrath / Cinematography by Jonathan Freeman

Format: DVD - Columbia (MSRP $24.95)

Letterboxed (1.85:1) (16x9 enhanced) / Dolby Digital 5.1

Just as overwrought, awkward, and guiltily entertaining as you'd expect from the director and star of Highlander, the gruesome serial killer opus Resurrection (no relation to the Ellen Burstyn film) went straight to HBO in the United States without even a cursory appearance in theaters. Though virtually the entire story structure and numerous individual scenes are hilariously plagiarized from Seven, Resurrection at least boasts a few novel twists and qualifies as one of the more outrageous recent entries in the overstylish serial murder sweepstakes (Kiss the Girls, The Bone Collector, and so on).

While investigating a grisly murder in which a conscious victim's arm was removed, Detective John Prudhomme (Lambert) becomes intrigued by a number of oddities at the crime scene, such as numbers carved into the back of the corpse. Along with his joke-cracking partner, Andrew (good character actor Leleand Orser), Prudhomme is then called in each subsequent Friday to investigate another similar murder in which a vital portion of the victim's body has been amputated. Prudhomme's wife, Sara (Barbara Tyson), is understandably not too happy with her husband's growing obsession with the case, particuarly when he pieces together the killer's riddles and deduces that our humble maniac is trying to assemble his own Body of Christ in time for Easter Sunday.

More explicitly gory than its cinematic model, Resurrection lingers in morbid detail on the bodily havoc performed by its villain with a somnolent, NYPD Blue-style verite approach -- hardly original, but still effective. In fact, by the time the "shocking" revelation of the killer's goal has been revealed in all its decomposed glory, the effect is completely muffed by all the graphic carnage preceeding it. Mulcahy's vertigo-inducing mobile camerawork still reveals his music video origins, though he makes atmospheric use of some dark, claustrophobic settings throughout. The religious killer's identity is revealed fairly early on, leaving most of the film to focus on the police procedural and pursuit aspects until the incredibly unlikely rooftop finale, which opens up more plot holes than you can count. Orser takes top acting honors for his relatively small amount of screen time, and Lambert is... well, Lambert. Since the film was mostly shot in Toronto, David Cronenberg pops up in a couple of brief scenes as a priest(!), ironic considering the serial killer's garb strongly resembles Cronenberg's zipperhead in Nightbreed crossed with the Italian maniac from Sergio Martino's Torso. The Euro horror connection is quite obvious throughout, with the plot also lifting a few devices from Pieces and Body Puzzle and a few visuals plucked from Cat o' Nine Tails for good measure.

Columbia's DVD treats this "small" title with a surprising amount of respect. Creepy animated menus, a trailer, and TV spots, not to mention full frame or anamorphic widescreen editions, prove their commitment to even the most unlikely releases. The image quality is fine if unspectacular, given the dark and smudgy nature of the film itself, but the 5.1 sound mix (much louder than the 2.0 one for some reason) features some startling rear effects ranging from splashing rain to weird ambient humming and rumbling. Mulcahy contributes a commentary track so dull it makes In the Mouth of Madness look high voltage in comparison; he often lets fifteen minutes or so drift by without making a comment. On the other hand, he does point out that a horrific leg cutting sequence was trimmed down to get an R rating, but the extreme bloodshed that remains will still satisfy demanding gorehounds. All told, Resurrection may not be close to a classic but still merits an evening's rental for horror fans looking for a quick, grisly fix.

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