Short Film Saturday: The Strange and Eerie Memoirs of Billy Wuthergloom

This is a funny and off-beat horror short that is a perfect light start to 61 Days of Halloween. It feels like it could be the prelude to a series or teaser for a a feature but still works on its own. It features BAM-Award nominee Peter DaCunha and Jake Goodman, probably best known for his role on Life with Boys. Enjoy!

In Anticipation Of: The Necroscope

NOTE: This post has been updated. New information that supersedes the production update in the body can be found at the bottom of the piece.

The first time I did a piece labeled In Anticipation Of it was regarding Mercy the adaptation of the Stephen King short story Gramma, which was produced by Blumhouse and will be released by Universal Horror. With this one I have decided to go with something that I’ve watched off an on for a long time that could probably be better described as being development purgatory rather than development hell for a long time.

My history with the Necroscope, if we are to be quite literal, goes back to just after I started reading the horror genre. I really started to embrace horror, and enjoy being scared, after I watched The Shining in a cinema class. I then proceeded to read Desperation, then Bag of Bones, and despite my not enjoying that one quite so much, I borrowed It and then I was a King devotee for life. As I went to browse bookstores for more King, or other future possibilities, I came across the Necroscope series. The only reason I delayed really was because it took me a while to look up and confirm the correct reading order.

The books that really caught my attention were the covers and stories of the Vampire World trilogy, books six thru eight. However, there was the debate about committing, at least in theory, to a series that long. Then I did. The first two books are brilliant; absolute masterpieces of the horror genre. Further on down the line there are still strokes of genius. For as good as the beginning is that section, which I did eventually get to, is very strong. And the most recent book, a short novel entitled The Möbius Murders, is by far the strongest installment in The Lost Years chronology.

Necroscope (Bob Eggleton)

Part of the issue with a film, or potential series of films, in my estimation, has been the budget that I believe a halfway decent adaptation would incur. While I was in college I immersed myself in Lovecraft for a time such that not only was I worried for my mental health for a week or so, but I also managed to turn out my take on the mythos in screenplay form. The script was what I wanted it to be: a tale that would take its time yet consistently build atmosphere and pace. However, my best guess that at is original 150 pages its budget would be at least one million dollars a minute, and that’s a problem for a Lovecraftian tale. Therefore, I decided to turn said spec script into prose. Just look at how the supposedly high-budget At the Mountains of Madness fell apart. My expectation for the budget on Necroscope is similar. Add to that the international intrigue, foreign tongues, potential for voice over, finding the correct tone and detailed mythology being built; and there are pitfalls.

Yet, that hasn’t stopped the property from being optioned numerous times. Like I said, I get why, but as Lumely’s site reports it’s now six consecutive years the option has been picked up. What prompted me to write this piece was that after hearing the words “Necroscope” and “movie” on TV, as Glenn Hetrick was introduced on an episode of FaceOff I wondered “Is it really that much closer to happening?”

As per Lumley’s site in March, it seems not, save for the most recent renewal. Maybe Hetrick was just trying to get some interest, buzz and free advertising for the possibility. Can’t say I blame him really.

geek_lumley_lg

However, this property, which is amongst the iconic properties of horror fiction, is also on a short list of big properties oft delayed, and this one likely offers a bigger tonal challenge onscreen as opposed to things like King’s Dark Tower and The Talisman, which have also been oft delayed and changed hands many times. It’s getting to a point where I do wonder if I could fight my fandom when a film came out: could I supplant my image of Harry in my mind? Could I deal with a Yulian not speaking Romanian, and so on? I’d like to think so. However, with this project so long in the offing and seemingly still so far off I honestly can’t answer as a fan if I want to see the film happen. I just know that if it does, when it does I’ll be there.

UPDATE: I recently saw a link to a Necroscope fan group on Facebook, joined, and it seems Glenn Hetrick messaged the group Admin with an update on the status of the project. It reads as follows:

Happy New Year Guys! There is nothing that I can discuss at the moment, we are honing the pitch and script and setting up meetings for early 2014 with studios, but this entire process, contracts, waiting for responses, etc. is quite drab I assure you, so the reason I have been silent is that there is nothing new to report other than we are moving forward. Not a day goes by that I do not spend time on the phone or computer trying to push this ahead, if you think you are feeling impatient I also assure you it is far worse for me. There is also the legality of the whole thing, which will compel me to remain reticent even once we have a deal, up until such time an interested STUDIO concretes a deal, picks it up and then decides to officially announce the project, which i feel will be sometime this year. During that entire period I will not legally be capable of discussing the project publicly, but just know I am throwing everything I got at this. It requires a Herculean effort to get a film produced by a major studio and near impossible to get that done right, with integrity of the source material intact, a promise I made to Brian personally. I am years into the process…we are getting close. Know that as soon as there is something to report, I will do it here. Currently working on Hunger Games sequels and will be going back to shoot Face Off again soon, during which time I am developing new designs and visuals for our pitch whilst tweaking the script, fingers crossed everyone! Ok, rob, get to liking, I want bloody fingers!

Short Film Saturday- The Music of Erich Zann and The Earth Rejects Him

The Music of Erich Zann

I am a huge admirer of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I have read nearly all of his works, some on multiple occasions, and the few I haven’t yet read I’ll soon get to. Lovecraft typically has been seen as someone who is for the most part un-filmable. This is usually due to the descriptive nature of his work, how ensconced in prose, inner monologue and an atmospheric sense of foreboding that the psychological play of the written word can achieve far easier than a moving image. Those are just some of the reasons.

One recent excellent adaptation of similar length is The Call of Cthulhu by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, they have a feature due out at the end of the month.

The Music of Erich Zann is a notable tale not only because of Lovecraft’s designating it as one of his favorites, but also because of the description of the eponymous music. This film is ambitious for tackling this story on that fact alone, and much of the time the music works it has a borderline-grating yet conversely captivating quality that Lovecraft alludes to in the text. The sound design of the film also works well in conjunction with it. There are great oblique angles thrown into the mix that build that sense of unease and hint of something outré.

The locations are really great and the film does well to play rather timelessly throughout. There are few hints of when this film was made, which allow it to be rather close to the Lovecraft’s text without being strictly period. The makeup work is rather good for the most part, but most of what makes this film click is that this film insists on the myopic world view of the mythos and that is most of why it works. The world beyond the walls of this decrepit apartment building is illusory and the reality of reality is being uncovered behind these walls.

This film is very true to the text based on what I recall of the story and builds atmosphere and dread and slowly builds to a huge wallop, that may impact the protagonist more than the spectator. I know from experience that an undertaking of a tale of this kind and size in a university production is quite an undertaking and the results are pretty impressive.

The Earth Rejects Him

Jared Skolnick has since made a new short film. This one is an original tale. What’s most intriguing is that most of it unfolds without the aid of discernible dialogue and it’s an elementary horrific tale insomuch as we see results and understand patterns, in short we witness results, and don’t necessarily discern the cause in a precise fashion, but understand it. This, of course, is by design. In a Lovecraftian way a curtain is pulled back here revealing a maniacal, terrifying underworld that we only understand enough to know we want no part of it, and in many ways that makes it more frightening.

You can view The Earth Rejects Him below.

http://t.co/roou4klSLn

If you’re interested in this film it can be purchased here.

61 Days of Halloween- The Evil Dead

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

The Evil Dead

Ellen Sandweiss in The Evil Dead (New line Cinema)

If there was ever a horror film in the gore sub-genre that goes for the throat and just won’t quit it is unquestionably The Evil Dead. This is a film with such pulverizing scenes of blood-letting and death that there’s no time to be concerned with much else it just draws you in and you become absolutely enthralled.

At the beginning we see just enough of these characters to differentiate amongst them. They are sketched out just enough such that we don’t hate them and so that their deaths aren’t a relief but sometimes it does come as a pleasant shock.

The use of the subjective camera to represent the spirits make this film and absolutely does wonders to add to the atmosphere. The relentless speed and the bowling over of trees on the part of these spirits who never really manifested themselves in their true form make the film what it is.

Of course, one cannot talk about the cinematography without discussing the score of this film for without it these would have just been cute camera moves. Instead the spirits had their own theme song: a tenebrous, loud yet low-pitched thump that struck fear into my heart every time I heard it.

Another way The Evil Dead is interesting is that it takes some precepts of film and the horror genre in general and uses them masterfully. First, is the Book of the Dead, which may also be known as the Necronomicon, the filmmakers implemented it to unleash unknown powers on these characters and it was done tremendously well.

The Book of the Dead is undoubtedly a piece of work that has been sparingly used but here it is a perfect fit and shows these people have at least working knowledge of the works of Lovecraft. In Lovecraft’s fiction man’s desire to know what they had absolutely no hope of understanding always leads to his downfall a similar parallel can be drawn to this film.

Secondly, this film masters the use of the subjective camera as the villain which was initiated with It’s Alive! and made famous by Jaws, after The Evil Dead it would be foolishness for someone to try and rely so heavily on it because it just wouldn’t work as well.

Third, there is the great use of possession in this film which is no doubt inspired by The Exorcist and comes close to reproducing an equally effective result along that line. Some audiences may look back on this film which is now 30 years old and think it looks dated but they can’t argue with the fact that it works. I happen to think that the special effects are great especially for when they are made. Claymation or Stop-Motion Animation are great techniques and truly lost arts. Granted it is very difficult to film but the results are great especially with The Evil Dead because the clay and whatever other materials they chose to throw in there just added the extra grotesque touch the film needs. I think it is just wonderful!

There is a great debate between people who are proponents of Night of the Living Dead and The Evil Dead. I think all the arguing is futile. Both of these films are their own unique kind of beast and they’re both beautiful in their own way. Enjoy both these films for what they are and the debate should end and everyone busting a vein trying to win the argument should just shut up.

10/10

61 Days of Halloween- The Curse

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

The Curse

Wil Wheaton in The Curse (Trans World Entertainment)

Granted, this like most adaptations of Lovecraft is quite changed but from those I’ve seen so far this has been the most faithful. Lovecraft is often described as un-filmable and it’s interesting to note that a few people will reportedly step up to the challenge in the near future, namely Guillermo Del Toro with At the Mountains of Madness (currently scrapped but rumors persist) and Ron Howard with a Lovecraft-inspired tale.

As for the film at hand it is based on “The Colour Out of Space,” which is quite an eerie tale scribed by the master of supernatural fiction and this movie captures that. Yes, there are some very cliché things in this film and David Keith couldn’t direct a PSA but yet this movie manages to work mostly due to the handling and quasi-faithfulness to the tale.

The movie is just freaky. It scared me quite a bit and I don’t scare easily. It’s not too proud to be grotesque. Had Claude Akins and Wil Wheaton not been in the cast it might have been just another hackneyed contrived 80s slasher film but their performances coupled with a unique and affecting score make it work.

I was quite uncertain as to whether I wanted to see this or not. Now I’m glad I did.

If you are interested it is available as a combo-pack on both Amazon.

9/10

61 Days of Halloween- Die, Monster, Die!

Most holidays worth their while encompass entire seasons, such as Christmas, for example. However, as you may have noticed there is a corporate push every year for us to think about the next holiday even sooner. While this has many negative side effects I figure I may as well embrace it.

Since Labor Day is really only good for college football and movie marathons cinematically it is as significant as Arbor Day, which means the next big day on the calendar is Halloween and we can start looking toward it starting now.

Daily I will be viewing films in the horror genre between now and then and sharing the wealth. Many, as is usually the case, will not be worth it so for every disappointment so I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Die, Monster, Die!

Boris Karloff in Die, Monster, Die! (AIP/MGM)

There is plenty to talk about when it comes to Die, Monster, Die! Firstly, it is an adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft short story “The Colour from Outer Space.” This is quite a different take on the tale than offered up by The Curse, not only is the story transplanted to an upper crust English family but it is done with American International Pictures’ usual flair. The flexibility of the tale proves it is one of the best the horror genre has to offer.

It’s a film, which like Psycho, believes that an opening title sets the tone for the film and is not a throw away. It is also a rare late-career appearance by Boris Karloff in which his talents aren’t wasted but in fact utilized.

The cinematography is spectacular not only in is atmospheric use of fog to start but in terms of framing, contrast and use of color. The framing being particularly aided by the decision to shoot 2.35:1. However, the art direction, as is often the case, is a co-conspirator in making this film look fantastic. The sets both interior and exterior are precise and meticulous, dilapidated where needed as well as ornate where necessary.

The effects for the era are quite impressive and artistically rendered both with the melting face and also at the end with the glowing head, if you see it you’ll know what I mean.

This film is available both on DVD and to stream over Netflix. It is a film whose title, like many of those in the halcyon days of cinema, belie the quality of the feature contained. Make no mistake that despite its B-movie moniker that Die, Monster, Die! is a quality piece of cinema and a valuable addition to the horror genre.

10/10