Tony Scotti started out as a small time actor in TV and film and Ben Scotti was at one time a defensive back for in the NFL with the Redskins, Eagles and Niners. They started up their record label in 1974, but in the '80s they moved into movie production and distribution.
Their first film in 1986 was an entertaining Gary Busey action vehicle named (what else?) THE EYE OF THE TIGER for which they tapped the talents of director Richard C. Sarafian. The company was only involved with a handful of movies and sadly most of them are not Video Junkie material. Sorry, you will never see a review of HE'S MY GIRL (1987) no matter how much we like T.J. Carter. Their final film was unequivocally their finest hour and a half, an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward."
Opening the way all horror movies should open, with a dark and stormy night, Charles Dexter Ward has escaped from an asylum leaving a bloody mess of human carnage and a large, black scorch-mark. How this came to be is told in flashback by private investigator John Marsh (John Terry). After the cosmetics executive, Ward, goes missing, his wife Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett), hires gumshoe March to investigate his disappearance and his bizarre research that may be linked to the occult. The police are investigating as well and want to know why they found a suitcase of human remains in the boathouse that he was using as a laboratory.
In short order, March discovers that Ward is using a farmhouse in Rhode Island's Pawtuxet Valley, with a man named Dr. Ash, that has been the site of strange nocturnal deliveries and noxious odors. He also discovers that one of those deliveries was witnessed by a neighbor to be eight coffins, and coincides with the recent robbery of eight graves of ancient European practitioners of the occult.
While conducting his investigation, Claire finally tells March about a trunk Ward had received from a dead relative that he never knew. It contained strange papers from the 1700s discussing dark experiments. Yeah, I know that's awfully vague, but I can't ruin the movie if you ignored my orders a few paragraphs ago.
Directed by Dan O'Bannon from a screenplay by Brent V. Friedman, who was fresh off of the brilliant low-rent sequel to William Malone's SCARED TO DEATH (1980), titled SYNGENOR (1990), this is probably the best Lovecraft adaptation you will ever see. Sure it's a slightly budget starved (some of the effects are a little lacking), but O'Bannon's direction is impeccable, with a prowling camera that feels at times like an old Argento film. Besides, if you get nostril-deep in Lovecraft adaptations this $6 million production will feel more extravagant than the latest Marvel adaptation.
Aside from minor acting quibbles, and maybe a few rubbery-looking effects, this is without question the finest Lovecraft adaptation on celluloid. It's a shame that it has been such a sleeper film, but then again, at least hipsters haven't ruined it for the rest of us.