Like the works of Phillip K. Dick and other authors with a
cult following, the short stories of H. P. Lovecraft have been turned
movies many times over the years. And,
as is the case with many authors, the results have usually been less
they should be. (Two of the main
exceptions are the great movies by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical
of Cthulhu and Whisperer
One of Lovecrafts best works, and also one of his most
'unfilmable' is The Colour Out of Space, a short story
published in 1927. It was the basis for
the films Die, Monster, Die! (1967 -
5.5 out of 10 at the IMDB), The Curse
(1987 - 4.5 rating), and Color from the
Dark (2008 - 4.6 rating), so when I heard an independent film maker
the work, my expectations weren't very high.
After screening The Colour Out of
Space (originally titled Die Farbe
which is German for The Color)
however, I came away impressed. The film
manages to capture the eerie feeling of Lovecraft's story which is
that if very hard to do.
Set in 1975, young man named Jonathan Davis learns that his
father has mysteriously disappeared. He
starts tracking his parent's movements and the trail leads to Germany,
specifically to the area that his father was stationed while a GI at
the end of
WWII. So he jumps on a plane and sets
off to the Swabian-Franconian
Once there he starts showing a picture of his father around
to no avail until he bumps into a man, literally, who recognizes an old
of the elder Davis
taken when he was still in the Army. The
man, Armin Pierske, met Davis
right after the war. Armin was returning
home to his farm from the front, while Davis and his men were taking an
inventory of the farms in the area to see if any could be used as
shelters. After examining Armin's farm Davis starts to
to the valley below when the German warns him not to go there. It's a place where evil things have happened,
and it might not be over.
Back in the present, the older Armin takes Jonathan to his
home where he relates the story of the Gärtener farm and the meteor
from space right before the war. It
landed in their field one evening and the next day the fragment was
hot. As a matter of fact, it didn't cool
down at all. Soon a scientist from a
nearby university came to get a sample, and but the material couldn't
identified. He returned and chipped off
more fragments from the extraterrestrial rock only to discover that
is inside of the meteorite, an odd color.
Before he can get a good look, it disappears, and later that
storm comes and lighting is attracted to the rock "like moths to a
flame." The next day it's gone, and the
Everyone forgets about the event until the following summer
when the Gärtener's discover that their crops are growing to an
size. While they're gigantic, the food
isn't good to eat, it tastes spoiled.
While most families would rely on their neighbors to help them
a tragedy, the Gärtener's do the opposite, becoming reclusive. Their kids stop going to school, and when
Armin goes to visit them they act very odd.
Soon word gets around that Mrs. Gärtener has gone mad, and her
start acting strange too. But nothing
could prepare Armin for what he discovers when he goes to check on the
after a prolonged absence.
It's hard to create a movie where the creature is a
heretofore unseen color, but the creators of this film manage to pull
off. There's a feeling of foreboding
that permeates the film, and that's just what Lovecraft was going for
story. By relying on atmosphere and
creating an eerie feeling for the movie well before the 'monster' is
they draw the viewers into the story so that even if the reveal of the
is a bit underwhelming, it almost doesn't matter. It's
not what the thing from space looks like
that is so scary, it's just the fact that it exists on Earth.
The cinematography is very good too and adds a lot to the
movie. It's filmed in black and white
(with the exception of the 'color' itself, which is a good and cheap
and the movie is filled with shadows and mist.
The images are haunting. It creates almost a 'noir' feel to the
where you're just waiting for something bad to happen.
I especially liked the way jump-cuts were
employed to show the way Mrs. Gärtener was going insane.
Again, it's a cheap but effective tool if
used correctly and it was in this film.
That being said, the director made some unusual choices for
this movie. While the large majority of them work, I had to wonder why
created the whole framing sequence of an American man looking for his
Germany. It would have been easy enough to just move
the whole story from America
without this device, or else keep the American setting while filming it
German. Because of this there are three
time periods in the film: the 'present'
which is actually over 35 years ago, just after WWII, and just before
WWII. While it's not hard to follow the
narrative, it is a bit awkward. It also
changed the focus of the plot from the mysterious event surrounding a
the fate of the elder Davis. That didn't work as well as it should as I
was never that interested in the missing man.
Purist and hard core fans of Lovecraft's work will bemoan
some of the other changes that were made to the story, including one at
end. I happened to love the twist that's
included near the conclusion. It both
surprised and shocked me, which doesn't happen often.
The disc comes with
both a DD 5.1 mix as well as a stereo soundtrack, both in German with
English subtitles. One thing to note is
that the movie starts in English but soon turns to mainly German once
narrative switches to Germany.
On the Blu-ray player I used to screen this
film, the subtitles weren't enabled automatically so be sure to turn
them on or
else you'll be scratching your head as I was.
As for the quality of the soundtrack, I viewed the film with the
track and spot-checked the stereo one and both sounded fine. The 5.1 really came alive during the climax
of the film too, and it was nice that they went to the trouble.
The black and white anamorphic image looks good. It's
just a tad soft in places, and there is
some banding in a few scenes, but aside from that the picture quality
especially for an independent film.
The disc comes with more extras than I was expecting.
There are three featurettes on the disc,
Making of Colour Out of Space which, as one would expect, covers the
the movie, Effects and Concepts, which looks at how they achieved the
the film on a limited budget, and Science and Horror, which talks about
Lovecraft's use of science to generate terror.
All three are nice additions to the DVD and worth checking out.
All in all, this is a magnificent film. Eerie
and haunting with some excellent
cinematography, it is one of those rare films based on a Lovecraft
manages to capture the feelings and atmosphere that the author was
create. Horror fans who are only looking
for grue and blood should pass it by, but those who enjoy chilling
well should definitely check this out.