Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jason goes to the Roxie for an H.P. Lovecraft double feature

So after two films at Jewfest, then BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, I skipped over to the Roxie for this double feature of Lovecraftian weirdness (oh yes, this is all on the same day.)

First up, WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, which I had seen just a few months back in Portland at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu-con. Here's what I said then:

And then what might be my favorite film of the festival (at least favorite feature), WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. It's made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, who earlier had produced the excellent silent version of THE CALL OF CTHULHU (2005.) Since "The Call of Cthulhu" was written in 1928, they adapted it in the style of the time--a silent film. So for WHISPERER IN DARKNESS, they adapted it in the style when it was made--1931. So early talkies, the same year as DRACULA. That's an excellent choice of style (which they've dubbed "Mythoscope.") Professor Albert Wilmarth of Miskatonic University is a folklorist and a skeptic, spending much of his career debunking various legends. But an urgent letter brings him to the woods of Vermont, where he learns something of the truth behind the local legends, with terrifying and sometimes humorous results.
Wow, I was kind of light on the details...and I suppose appropriately so. No spoilers. I will just add that the CGI Mi-go were the one part I didn't quite like, just because it broke the illusion of the 1931 movie. It was very interesting to hear producer Andrew Leman talk about how the original plan was to have fully stop-motion Mi-go, but that would've added about 9 months to the project and they just ran out of time. Fair enough, I still loved it.

And the second show was Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND. You know, you can complain all you want about Gordon's not-at-all-serious, irreverent takes on Lovecraft (yes, RE-ANIMATOR is way too jokey compared to the story) but he makes movies that are uniquely his and deliver bizarre thrills (dammit, RE-ANIMATOR is a fine movie and lots of fun, if you just get over yourself and don't expect it to be live the book.) Here he takes FROM BEYOND and makes the unlocked sixth sense as perverted as possible. He makes it a story of a totally Dr. Edward Pretorius pervy, S&M obsessed scientist who wants to unlock the sixth sense of the pineal gland basically because the normal five senses aren't enough to get him off anymore. And it's the story of his lab assistant, Crawford Tillingast (Jeffrey Combs) who is charged with Dr. Pretorius' murder after a creature from beyond bites his freakin' head off. And it's the story of Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Compton) the hotshot "girl wonder" psychiatrist who examines Crawford and determines they should recreate the experiment to see if he's telling the truth or if he's crazy. Oh yeah, and throw Ken Foree in there as the big brute of a cop who's there for their protection. And let the sleazy wackiness commence! Lots of fun, just don't get hung up on it being a faithful Lovecraft adaptation--it belongs much more to the world of Stuart Gordon.

Total Running Time: 170 minutes
My Total Minutes: 295,958

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