Lurker Films has been releasing some very interesting discs of late. Their H. P. Lovecraft collection (volume five recently came out read my review here), is an exciting series of short films based on the work of the master of horror. They've also put out a volume of shorts based on Edgar Allen Poe's writings (review here.) Not content to stop there, Lurker has collected a set of shorts based on the work of Robert W. Chambers and released it as The Weird Tale (sic) Collection Volume One. While I've devoured all of the published stories by Lovecraft and Poe, Chambers is a new author to me so wasn't too sure what to expect. The disc turned out to be a good collection of eerie shorts the fits right in with the other Lurker Film releases.
The Yellow Sign (45 minutes): A young girl, Tess (Shawna Waldron), starts having strange dreams of weird works of art. In her dreams the artist is Aubrey Scott (Dale Snowberger), and Tess is floored when her boss at the art gallery where she works reveals that there is an artist by that name. Scott has only hosted one exhibition of his work, years ago, to much critical acclaim. After the show however, he stopped communicating with everyone, including the owner of the gallery who hosted his presentation. He has been a recluse ever since.
Tess' boss talks her into contacting Scott. After all, she's been dreaming of him and maybe the young, attractive girl can talk the recluse into letting their gallery show his work. Tess tracks Aubrey down and discovers he's living in a run down apartment house, and apparently he's the only one who lives in the decrepit place. Greeting Tess, Aubrey mentions that they've meet before, in her dreams. The walls of his apartment are covered in horrific and eerie art, and while they talk, Scott talks about an alternate world where things are grander and that everything that we experience is a mere shadow of this other world. Tess is a bit freaked by the artist's odd stories but when he agrees to a showing, she jumps at the chance to show his work. There's only one catch: Tess has to agree to pose for Scott's next work before he'll let her show his work. Meeting with the man everyday is a strain on the young girl. His stories give her nightmares and she starts to remember things that she though she had forgotten, and her view of reality slowly changes.
This is an eerie tale that's very reminiscent of Lovecraft with its talk of beings from another reality and forgotten lore. The film works well since the viewer isn't really sure of what's going on anymore than poor Tess does. The sets used for Scott's rooms as well as the artwork placed all over serve to enhance the eerie feeling of the piece and when things are finally revealed at the end, it is done so in a satisfactory manner and the ending works well.
A/V: Recorded with a digital video camera, this movie has most of the defects that are normally associated with DV recordings. There's a good amount of aliasing in the anamorphic 1.78:1 image and the lines are not as tight as they could be. The colors are fine though not terribly bright and there is a bit of digital noise in darker scenes. The audio, available in either DD 5.1 or stereo is fine. The surround track is a bit more full and engulfing and is preferable to the two channel track. There are subtitles in seven languages including English.
Tupilak (13 minutes): Inspired by the works of Lovecraft and Chambers, this short is a spooky little offering that works well. Filmed in France, it is the story of an artic expedition gone bad. When the guide gets hurt, the two other men of the team can't carry him so they're forced to leave him to die.
Two years later to the day, the two survivors meet accidentally in a museum. One of them is very worried because the Indian guide, with his dying breath, called upon one of his gods, Tupilak, to get revenge on the two for leaving him. While one is frantic, the other is calm. He doesn't believe in ancient gods or supernatural revenge, but punishment can come from the most unexpected places.
This film is one of those short movies where everything falls into place and an enjoyable piece is created. The story isn't long or very involved, but it works well and the twist at the end is very good.
A/V: This film is about average, with a fair amount of detail and good contrast. The exterior scenes are a bit flat looking, and some of the whites are a little too bright. There is some noise in the image, but it's not too bad. The French dialog is fine and there are optional subtitles in English.
The King in Yellow (6 minutes): This Italian film is a rather experimental piece with the visuals being more important than the story. The basic plot involves a woman looking for a gift for a sick friend who is in the hospital. But from there is creates some disturbing and interesting visuals that make it worth watching. Not a great film, but a nice addition to this set.
A/V: The widescreen image was very soft, almost blurry, but this is probably how the creators wanted it to look in order to give the movie a dream-like feeling. The colors were muted and the whites were occasionally too bright. With an avant-garde film like this though, it's hard to tell how close the DVD is to the director's intention.
As with the other Lurker Film DVDs, this one has a good amount of bonus material, most of it having to do with the feature film. The most interesting featurette is Robert W. Chambers in Paris, a 15-minute look at the author's time in the City of Lights. It is a nice introduction to the man and his work.
The rest of the extras all concern The Yellow Sign. There are a series of outtakes that run 4 minutes, a deleted scene that lasts a bit over a minute, an audition tape that lasts over 4 minutes, and a slide show of production stills.
I enjoyed this volume of shorts very much. While I was a little
disappointed that there were only three films, the quality of the first
two was high enough that I didn't care. I'll take quality over quantity
any day. A nice addition to Lurker Films line, this disc comes recommended.