A quick review of HPL Film Fest movies I saw.

The Last Wave
This was one of the features and even though S.T. Joshi pointed out how Lovecraftian it was, I found it to be only tenuously linked to HPL’s style/philosophy/Cthulhu Mythos. It was quite good. This white fellow becomes the lawyer for some urban tribal aboriginies who execute one of their members for touching forbidden objects. The lawyer has prophetic dreams about these objects, etc and it tears him and his family apart. There were some cool bits. 7/10

The Resurrected
I have a copy of this film on VHS so I didn’t bother watching it at the fest. It’s a very good adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, one of my favourite HPL tales. Plus it was filmed locally, and has Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdink from Princess Bride) as Ward. High 7/10 – it would be higher if some of the actors were better.

Quatermass 2 (1957 black and white)
We missed the beginning of this but I loved it. Meteors from space infect the townsfolk and they harbor space blobs in a mysterious factory. Very campy but the acting was great and the style was typically cool. I love the esthetics and social dynamics of the 20’s through the 50’s, and I need to see more classic films in general. 6/10

Enter the Dagon
A pretty silly mockumentary short about some guys who are trying to make a Lovecraftian martial arts film. Some of the jokes were expected, some of them just bad, but others were pretty funny. The idea for the film is great, but it’s really just a one-joke concept and it can’t hold up for more than a few minutes. I had heard that it was edited down and I think that was the right decision. It worked and was enjoyed by all. 6/10

Why Vote for the Lesser Evil
A very silly short about two guys who are trying unsuccessfully to fill out their Cthulhu cult and get Cthulhu voted for president until they realize that George Bush is more evil than Cthulhu. I was amused but not as much as everyone else in the theater as I have heard all these jokes before. 5/10

The Visage
I found out after I saw this that it was adapted from a Gogol story. I’ve read a few Gogol stories and have really enjoyed them, I think I may still have a book kicking around. Anyway, this would have been good had they cast someone different from the lead actor, Derek Thompson. Thompson played Clifford the down-on-his luck young man who is recruited to watch over the body of a dead spiritualist for three days. This guy had -5 charisma and his acting was painful to watch. Seriously, it drove me nuts–I can’t get past it. I could not enjoy this otherwise good short film that had legitimately tense, creepy moments. One cool part was when Clifford was hiding under an afghan blanket and you saw his P.O.V. of the room through the tiny holes in the stitching. I have to give this a 4 (out of 10). If they had cast a better actor, it would easily have been twice that.
If you saw it you can rate the movie here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386852/combined

The Case of H.P. Lovecraft (documentary)
I have seen this French, artsy documentary on H.P. Lovecraft’s life before and it’s amazing, if long. 8/10

The Summoning
Another silly little short (I have nothing against silly, mind you) about a guy who is given a book and finds a glowing circle in his basement so naturally he goes into the circle and starts reading aloud from a book. Surprise surprise, tentacles appear and eat him! Simple, on-topic, and well done. 6/10
Rate it yourself here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426591/combined

The Tell-Tale Heart
I love Andrew to death, but this is where he and I differ on judging what goes into a HPL film fest. Poe is fantastic, I’m sure you’ll agree. But why is The Tell-Tale Heart in a Lovecraft festival? Argh! Okay okay – Lovecraft was Poe’s number one fan. Fine. Anyway – I had never actually read the story, so it was good that this film was basically the narrator reading the story throughout the short. It was quite good – but there were some things that bothered me greatly. The narrator said things like “It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening” of the door, and “I undid the lantern cautiously — oh, so cautiously — cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye” but all the while you were watching the fellow on film put thrust his head into the doorway in 2-3 seconds, and the room was lit at all times so you could see not just the eye, but the entire body of the sleeping man and the narrator. How would I get around these things if I were making the film? I don’t know. Suffice it to say, these discrepancies bugged me. Also the policemen weren’t acting like the narrator was telling me they were acting – that definitely could have been fixed with better direction. Otherwise the film was really quite outstanding. The narrator did a really good job. 8/10

Pickman’s Model.
This was an old adaptation of the HPL story of the same name. It was a really old, low-quality print of the film but it was not without its charm. If you’ve read the story, you know that it’s about an artist who paints ghoulish things – from life!! This short followed an art critic who was writing a book on art for some kind of art gallery/society but they cut his funding when he insisted that Pickman’s work be included in the book. Pickman’s paintings cause him to have bouts of prophetic fancy. The acting was fine, the story was not bad. Generally I thought it was pretty good compared to a lot of Lovecraftian film. I wish the paintings had been more exactingly executed, and I wish we got to see, if not a ghoul itself, at least the photos that Pickman was working from. 5/10

I wished I had been able to see the other block of shorts with Edward’s “Innsmouth Legacy” and “Strange Aeons” but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t going to mention any trailers or bumpers but I will say that I sure am looking forward to seeing “The Call of Cthulhu” next year!

5 Replies to “A quick review of HPL Film Fest movies I saw.”

  1. I really wish I hadn’t been on the other side of the country, maybe next year I’ll be closer and fortunate enough to catch it.

  2. Innsmouth Legacy was really good. Short and very on topic. I’d say 8/10.

    Strange Aeons could have been a nine if the bad guy wasn’t so unintentionally comical. His fake mustache was brutal. But the film as a whole was good. It had some really great visuals. I’d give it a 7/10 only because that bad guy really broke the mood.

    The Signalman was great too. BBC production so you know it at least looked good. 9/10.

    The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verill. What can I say other than meteor shit! 7/10.

    Block Two was the best block in my opinion (too bad you didn’t see it) but all blocks were good. That Call of Cthulhu trailer was da BOMB!

  3. The trailer for ‘The Call of the Cthulhu’ really was incredible – I know that I canNOT WAIT to see this finished film!

    I found myself getting a bit antsy during ‘The Signalman,’ and often found myself wondering why this was included in the line-up. It’s not that it was a BAD short – it was actually quite good – but it really wasn’t what I wanted to see at the festival, you know? It wasn’t Lovecraft.

    And I agree with the comment about the bad guy being “so unintentionally comical” in ‘Strange Aeons.’ It’s too bad – I liked this one overall.

    ‘The Innsmouth Legacy’ – Edward is incredible. Period.

  4. The best version of Poe’s “TheTell-Tale Heart” (and hence, what I compare all other adaptations to, is the UPA-made animated one narrated by James Mason. It uses very little movement, but is very effective. It’s considered one of the 50 best cartoons ever (according to my book “The 50 Greatest Cartoons”).

    I know Jeff Hoffman, who made this version of TT-TH, so if anyone wants to praise or condemn him, LMK.

    My review and photos will be forthcoming.

  5. Hi Toren. Thanks for the review of “Enter the Dagon”. It’s a thrill to know that after years of reading about the Thickets and listening to your music, you saw something that I worked on. “EtD” was my first film. We are continuing to pump out more. We just finished “Snuffed! The Musical” a short while ago. I’m breaking away from silly comedy for a bit though. I start filming my first serious piece next month. It’s a documentary about Lovecraft’s paternal family and the author who has been researching them.

    Thanks again,
    Tom Gleason
    Enter the Dagon Director

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