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.

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

Welcome to 61 Days of Halloween 2012 and The Call of Cthulhu

Alas, the time of year I long for most has come. There will be a heavy focus on horror from here through October 31st, but rest assured that pieces discussing current/recent theatrical releases are still being worked on, Short Film Saturday will continue to be full of variety and the Mini-Review Round-Ups will also offer films outside the genre if it happens not to be your cup of tea. Enjoy the standard intro and this piece!

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, I will try and suggest something worth while as well.

Every once in a while there is a film that just stands out so far it not only deserves to be noticed it practically demands it, it screams to be noticed. Such is the case with The Call of Cthulhu.

This is a film that screamed from the shelves of a Best Buy at me. It is produced by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, also known as the HPLHS. The cover art was so convincing – once I had discovered it was actually “a new silent film” I nearly gave up on it. However, I decided to give it a chance, first for their dedication to the idea and second, because how often do you get to watch a new silent film?

The film is short, under an hour, and highly decorated but having seen it this is the absolutely perfect treatment of the Lovecraftian mythos and a true delight for any fan of the author or the genre to behold. It takes his most difficult and ‘unshootable’ film and aside from one shot which I imagined when reading the tale handles it deftly, in fact, far better than I thought possible. All the conventions of the silent film are present and amplified. The end with close on text in journal could not be more perfect.

Throughout the use of forced perspective, miniatures and compositing is accurate to style and also rather effective. The film is also framed perfectly going through several locales with ease and not dependent on titles, in fact, not once is a title unnecessary or left wanting. It is truly a well-crafted film.

It is likely Lovecraft’s most globetrotting tale and it is certainly aired out well. The execution of the narrative is so accurate you are sure to forget about its being silent after a time if it does bother you.

The HPLHS is working on a new project Whisperer in Darkness. Their site features many links to their and other companies’ wonderful adaptations of the master’s work, available radio broadcasts and even a musical adaptation called Shoggoth on the Roof, both as a play and documentary about the play. One can only hope this group continues to bring HP Lovecraft the kind of appreciation and representation he deserves.