CC: The Color Out of Space Part 2

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

CC: The Color Out of Space Part 2

To view the previous article on The Color Out of Space and Die, Monster Die! please click anywhere in this sentence.

"The Colour Out of Space" is a short story written by American horror author H. P. Lovecraft in March 1927.  In the tale, an unnamed narrator pieces together the story of an area known by the locals as the "blasted heath" in the wild hills west of Arkham,Massachusetts.  The narrator discovers that many years ago a meteorite crashed there, draining the life force from anything living nearby; vegetation grows large, but tasteless, animals are driven mad and deformed into grotesque shapes, and the people go insane or die one by one.

Seeking to create a form of life that was truly alien, he drew his inspiration from numerous fiction and nonfiction sources.  First appearing in the September 1927 edition of Hugo Gernsback's science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, "The Colour Out of Space" became one of Lovecraft's most popular works and remained his personal favorite short story.  It was adapted into feature film versions in 1965 (“Die, Monster Die!”), 1987 (“The Curse”) and 2010 (“Die Farbe”).

The Colour Out of Space is a 1st-person narrative written from the perspective of an unnamed Boston surveyor.  To prepare for the construction of a new Massachusetts reservoir, he surveys a rural area that's to be flooded near the fictional town of Arkham.  He comes across a mysterious patch of land, an abandoned 5-acre farmstead completely devoid of life.  At the centre of the farmstead is an old well.  The site fills him with an unnatural sense of dread. He hurries past it.

When he returns to Arkham, the surveyor asks around for information regarding the waste.  He learns of an elderly hermit, Ammi Pierce, and asks him about the "blasted heath". The hermit tells him a horrific tale.  In the early 1880s, the farm had been productive, run by a Nahum Gardner & his family.  Then, one afternoon in June of 1882, a large meteorite crashed into the farm, beside the well.  It was metallic and contained a substance of an indescribable color that proved toxic.  While scientists were never able to tell what the meteor contained, its effects were undeniable--the entire Gardner family was struck by insanity, illness and worse, whilst the land around them was slowly drained of all life.

The Curse (1987)

  • Genre: Sci-Fi – Horror
  • Directed: David Keith
  • Produced:
    • Ovidio G. Assonitis 
    • Moshe Diamant 
    • Lucio Fulci 
    • Anselmo Parrinello
  • Written:
    • H. P. Lovecraft (Short Story “The Colour Out of Space”) 
    • David Chaskin (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Wil Wheaton, Claude Akins, Malcolm Danare, Cooper Huckabee, John Schneider, Amy Wheaton, Steve Carlisle, Kathleen Jordon Gregory
  • Music: Franco Micalizzi
  • Cinematography: Roberto Forges Davanzati
  • Editing: Claudio M. Cutry
  • Studio: Trans World Entertainment
  • Distributed:
    • Trans World Entertainment  
    • 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment  
    • Home Box Office Home Video  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • MGM Home Entertainment  
    • Media Home Entertainment  
    • PolyGram Video  
    • Video Treasures
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 11 September 1987
  • Running Time: 92 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The Curse (also known as The Farm or The Curse 1) is a 1987 horror film adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space directed by David Keith.  Famed Italian director Lucio Fulci was listed as a co-producer in the credits, and is said to have supervised the special gore effects in the film.  Years later, three other Euro-horror films were distributed on video by retitling them "The Curse 2", "The Curse 3" and "The Curse 4" (although they were totally unrelated to each other, or to "The Curse 1").

Nathan Hayes is a religious man trying to hold onto his farm and keep his family in line. A real estate developer is trying to buy most of the farm property in the area, including Mr. Hayes family farm, in the hope that the Tennessee Valley Authority will choose the town for the site of a new dam and recreational area. The night of a terrible storm, an unidentified, glowing object crashes on the Hayes farm and with it comes a horrible curse for the Hayes family and the members of the community.

Wil Wheaton and Amy Wheaton are real-life brother and sister.  Wil Wheaton once said that the only good thing about the movie was that his sister got a job on it.

Contrary to the actual films credits, producer Ovidio G. Assonitis in an interview says Lucio Fulci was not his partner on producing the film.  He states that Fulci was only the director of the second unit.  Producer Ovidio G. Assonitis says the film was inspired by the social crisis of the farmers during the Ronald Reagan administration in the United States during the 1980s.  This film is the directorial debut for David Keith.


The Color Out of Space (2010)

  • Original Title: "Die Farbe"
  • Genre: Drama – Mystery
  • Directed: Huan Vu
  • Produced:
    • Jan Roth 
    • Peter Tillisch 
    • Huan Vu
  • Written:
    • H.P. Lovecraft (Short Story “The Colour Out of Space”)
    • Huan Vu (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Paul Dorsch, Jürgen Heimüller, Ingo Heise, Philipp Jacobs, Michael Kausch, Olaf Krätke
  • Music: Unknown
  • Cinematography: Martin Kolbert
  • Editing: Huan Vu
  • Studio: Sphärentor Filmproduktionen
  • Distributed:
    • BrinkVision  
    • VL-Media
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 30 October 2010
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Country: Germany
  • Language:
    • German 
    • English

Basic plot set-up, a young man's father, a WWII vet, has returned to Germany and promptly disappears.  He travels to Germany to find him and is caught up in a troubling story involving a meteorite falling near a German farm and the disturbing incidents that happen afterwards.

So this is probably the most faithful adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's classic story.  Now it is a very low-budget affair, and it is German.  It's also in black and white, although that stylistic choice does pay off.  I did say it is the most faithful adaptation of the story, and I'm going to go ahead and say it is the best.  Certainly better than The Curse.

Certainly not a perfect film.  It is rather slow, but if you're familiar with Lovecraft, that shouldn't be a surprise.  I also got a bit of laughs from the fact that it is a German production that features several American backdrop characters. The main character, the son of the WWII vet, is supposedly an American, but is played by an actor with a pronounced German accent.  The same thing happened with another movie I watched recently, Juan of the Dead, where a supposed American is played by a guy with a very obvious Cuban accent.  I guess it doesn't really matter when most of your audience doesn't speak English.  It actually makes me quite curious as to how often this happens in American movies.  I would say it happens all the time.  Makes me wonder if the main actor affected a "German with American accent" for his role.  If he did, hooray!  I'm guessing it is probably lost on everybody.

At any rate, this production understands the original story and plays it straight and succeeds.  I've seen a lot of Lovecraft inspired movies, and they are almost always awful.  This one is really good.  There's a bit at the ending which is unnecessary, but, eh, movie adaptations.  If you like H.P. Lovecraft, make it a point to see this movie.
It actually may be a bit difficult.  Doesn't seem to have any sort of release strategy.  I found it on Amazon Instant.  It doesn't seem to be on anywhere else easier to see, unless you count the way the internet works.

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