61 Days of Halloween: Die Farbe (The Color Out of Space) (2010)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, and a list of previously featured titles, please go here.

Die Farbe (The Color Out of Space)

As I have discussed in two prior posts, the 61 Days of Halloween features on both The Curse and Die, Monster, Die!; H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space is not only a great horror story but also a tremendously malleable one. When I happened upon this title at a Second and Charles (a secondhand media retail chain) I just had to jump at the chance to see it, and I’m very glad I did.

The malleability of the tale again shines through as in this rendition while the tale begins in Arkham, Massachusetts; the protagonist is in search of his father who vanished in Germany after World War II, and that is where he will spend most of his time. As he arrives in his last known whereabouts he meets a man who starts to tell him of the strange events that had occurred in that town. These events make up a bulk of the short story.

Now the film being transplanted to Germany is already a bold decision that works out quite well. The next emboldened choice is that the film is predominantly in black and white. It’s a great choice for Lovecraft’s antiquarian style, but also aids in selling a majority of the effects work that is needed to render this tale. Yet, in a tale about color it is further brave – and without putting to fine a point on it, does serve a purpose.

There is some English dialogue in the film, but a vast majority of it is in German, and due to that performances are usually spot on. Both the cinematography and the edit do tremendous things to build the atmosphere of outre and foreboding that is one of Lovecraft’s hallmarks. Things in this tale are slightly askew and on a precipitous decline leading to one earth-shattering moment and it moves there almost unerringly.

The workmanship in this tale rivals what the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has been able to do with its films. It really is quite a work and proves that The Colour Out of Space is what I would refer to as one of the great stories, meaning that I can view many renditions of it and revel in the tweaks an modifications each brings to the table.

What’s odd is that apparently this film was released on video in the US in August of 2012, however, I never heard of it until the day I found it, so I think I will enter it into the mix for this year’s BAM Awards. It is available to stream free for Amazon Prime members and on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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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