Delve Deeper

Friday, May 19, 2017

Argentinian director Marcelo Schapces' feature film Necronomicón (2017)

CANNES — “Clementina,” “Necronomicon” and “Our Evil” have made the cut for the Cannes Festival’s 2017 Blood Window showcase of the best and most promising in Latino – Latin American, Spanish, Italian – fantastic cinema. Departing from its prior format, the 4th Blood Window Cannes spread will offer 10-minute sneak previews of seven pix-in-post, plus the screening of three complete films endorsed by international fantastic film festivals. [...]

Previewed, “Necronomicon (The Book from Hell)” is directed by director- producer Marcelo Schapces (“Velocity Begets Oblivion,” ”Juan and Eva”). A horror film inspired by the universe of H.P. Lovecraft, it follows Luis who investigates the mysterious death of Dieter, a librarian at the National Library of Buenos Aires, where a copy of the Necronomicon is hidden. Starring Federico Luppi, Luis Luque and Jorge Marrale, Necronomicon” is produced by Schapces’ Barakacine in Buenos Aires, which backed Carlos Saura’s “Zonda, Folclore Argentino.”

Mayorga, Emilio. "CANNES: ‘Clementina,’ ‘Necronomicon,’ ’Our Evil’ Set For Cannes’ 2017 Blood Window." Variety. May 19, 2017. http://www.variety.com/2017/film/festivals/cannes-film-festival-2017-ventana-sur-blood-window-1202437246/

NECRONOMICÓN TEASER from Mariano Suarez on Vimeo.

An interview with the director, in Spanish:

Casella, Patricio. "Interview with Marcelo Schapces, director of Necronomicón: El libro del infierno." Geeky. April 25, 2017. https://geeky.com.ar/entrevista-marcelo-schapces-director-necronomicon-libro-del-infierno/. For machine translation, try Google Translate: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fgeeky.com.ar%2Fentrevista-marcelo-schapces-director-necronomicon-libro-del-infierno%2F&edit-text=

Internet Movie Database webpage for the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4491146/combined

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Favourite Lovecraftian Movie.

A regular feature (we hope) by guest fans of H P Lovecraft. Some of these guests will be authors, editors, reviewers, publishers or just plain fans. All will be welcome to promote any projects that they are involved with, Lovecraftian or not.

This week I am delighted to post an essay from John Linwood Grant, author, editor, and joint property of 
several lurchers.

THE LAST TENTACLE ON THE LEFT

DAGON 

 Director: Stuart Gordon
Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short stories "Dagon" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth"), Dennis Paoli (screenplay)
Stars: Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Meroño, Macarena Gómez

The best of the movie posters.

We should start by saying that despite the writing credits, this film is neither Dagon nor The Shadow over Innsmouth. Instead, it blends the central revelation of the story Dagon with the folk-horror of Innsmouth to create its own little homage. So be warned.

Having got that out of the way, what do we have? Basically, an enjoyable enough 'young couple end up in the wrong place' story, with a yacht striking a reef and the surviving couple forced to seek help  in a monstrosity-haunted Spanish fishing village, Imboca. Innsmouth with tapas, in short.

Reviewing Dagon isn't easy. If you treat it as squirmy fun, it's fine. If you like groaning every time Stuart Gordon messes with Lovecraft's originals, then you might raise many eyebrows. The central couple are also problematic, because the American male lead (Ezra Godden) is an annoying wet who ought to have had a terminal accident early on. His female partner (Raquel Meroño), who is on screen for far less of the film, is resourceful, stunning, and should have been given the lead role. 

Her absence is filled by another of Gordon's major divergences, a seductive Innsmouthian priestess (Macarena Gómez) who would certainly not have appeared on old HPL's list. On the basis that even our 'hero' wouldn't fall for a bulgy-eyed, warty and gill-slitted girlie, suffice it to say that the more visible part of her are conveniently fey and beautiful. 

One of the denizens of the deep.


The same cannot be said for the villagers, and one of the strengths of the film is the portrayal of the half-human inhabitants. These vary from characters such as the priest and the hotel keeper, finely done in pallid, fishy shades, to robed horrors who need carts to get around. Visually, there are many fine aspects to the film – the village and the villagers work well; the whole place reeks of decay and, well, wetness. It does fall prey, though, to the dubious tentacle motif, with far too many boneless tendrils poking out everywhere, rather than the more batrachian original. Did we need frogs and squids? Possibly not.

If you seek gore, it will come. The film has a sideline in bloody sacrifice (cue Dagon) and people's faces being removed (no idea why). But the film is relatively image heavy and gore light otherwise. It's perhaps a film which works in two ways. The atmosphere and imagery are strong in both cases. As a folk-horror film, it's different and worth a look. As a Lovecraft film it's… a bit of a canonical mess, but worth a look. Innsmouth, out of Lair of the White Worm, with Dagon as tonight's guest

John Linwood Grant is a professional writer who lives in Yorkshire with a pack of lurchers and a beard. He may also have a family. He writes dark Edwardian tales, such as his recent novella A Study in Grey, and other weird and speculative fiction,including his Mamma Lucy tales of 1920's hoodoo. He has been published in a wide range of anthologies and magazines, edits anthologies himself, and is co-editor of Occult Detective Quarterly.
Occult Detective Quarterly #2 is due out in May 2017. Their Coats All Red, an anthology of strange and supernatural fiction set at the height of the British Empire, is coming later in the year from 18thWall, to be followed in 2018 by Hell's Empire, an anthology of the Victorians versus the Infernal Hordes, from Ulthar Press. News of all projects can be found on his popular website greydogtales.com, which explores weird fiction and weird art. And lurchers.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Favourite Lovecraftian Movie.

A regular feature (we hope) by guest fans of H P Lovecraft. Some of these guests will be authors, editors, reviewers, publishers or just plain fans. All will be welcome to promote any projects that they are involved with, Lovecraftian or not.


This week I am delighted to publish an essay by Brian M Sammons: editor, author and reviewer.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) – movie review
By Brian M. Sammons




Director: Adam Robitel
Writers: Adam Robitel, Gavin Heffernan
Stars: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay, Michelle Ang

Truth be told, there aren’t a lot of direct connections to H.P. Lovecraft in this movie. Sure, some people see HPL’s influence everywhere, and for good reason: the man casts a long, dark, lantern-jawed shadow. Now there is a bit here that can be tied to HPL with just a little effort and knowledge of some of his lesser-known tales, but I’m not going to spoil that for you. I’m going to let you discover it for yourself, or not. It’s a subtle connect, to be sure, but don’t worry, even if it flies right over your heard, there is more than enough good about this movie to warrant you watching it.  

What really makes this movie stand out from the typical horror fare is the wonderful weird vibe that it has. That is weird as in weird fiction. It is not as cosmic as some other stories that would be right at home in the venerable Weird Tales magazine. This film is grounded in more terrestrial history and folklore, but still at its heart it remains undeniably, wonderfully weird. Combine that with a plot that plays with expectations, the clever use of a format that is often uninspired, amazing acting by all involved, solid direction, and an ending that is just, in a word: wow, and you’ve got a hell of a movie that shouldn’t be missed by anyone. Yet so many people have still never heard of it, let alone seen it. Well I am here to help fix that egregious error and hopefully turn some new people on to this underrated gem of a weird horror film. This is my nickel tour of The Taking of Deborah Logan.

The plot of this film involves a small group of college students looking to document a woman’s sad, slow decline into the horror of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a found footage film, and this setup gives us a believable reason for the way-too-overused format. Furthermore, its pseudo-documentary style adds a palatable creepiness to the narrative, as opposed to the quick and cheap feel so many other shaky cam flicks have.

Back to the story. Pretty soon the elderly woman, the titular Deborah, is no longer thought to have the dreaded disease, but suffering from something even worse when she starts showing the classic signs of demonic possession. I mean, everyone has seen The Exorcist and the countless knock-offs that followed it, so we all know what to look for, right? Well before you write this movie off as yet another possessed by Satan flick, know there is a lot more to this film than that, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

First there is a good mystery to be solved here, as it quickly becomes apparent that things are not what they seem, even if what it looks like is as strange and otherworldly as spiritual possession. The truth is much weirder, and horrific, than that. The backstory to what’s going on is expertly laid out during the course of the film, piece by piece. There is never any great exposition dump here. Instead you are given clues to the mystery as the story unfolds, and only at the end does everything fall into place and make sense. This is good story telling, folks, this is how it should be done. Sadly, few other movies take the time to do it so well.

Then there are the actors, each and every one does an excellent job here, and the characters they are portraying are expertly written and realized. There’s not a bad performance in the bunch, but for me, the one that takes the top honors is Anne Ramsay as Deborah’s long suffering daughter, Sarah, and mostly
because of the subtle way her sexuality is handled in this film. While it is never outright said, it is pretty clear that she is a lesbian, but unlike the vast majority of movies, that is not her sole, defining characteristic. In many films if a character is gay, then they are GAY! They are gay first and foremost above all other traits, because most films think subtlety is a dirty word. Here, Sarah Logan is a real person with worries, fears, and flaws that, oh yeah, just so happens to be a lesbian. While this is a little thing overall, and not integral to the plot, it’s just one example of how this movie takes care to do everything right. Here a supporting character is better written and fleshed out than the majority of main characters in so many other movies, be they horror films or not. 



Then there is Jill Larson who plays the afflicted Deborah Logan, and she absolutely kills it here. She has the Herculean task of realistically portraying someone slipping into Alzheimer’s and not just play up the stereotypes of what people think of when they hear that insidious disease’s name. Then she has to take that performance and tweak it just subtly enough so that the audience begins to wonder if is she is suffering from dementia, or something even worse. And even then this actor’s job is still not done, because she has to portray the clichés of being possessed by the devil, and yet still add something more, something just off enough so even that starts being questioned. That is a tall order for an actor, and Jill Larson not only rises to the challenge, but overcomes it in grand style.

The Taking of Deborah Logan is a damn good movie, able to stand shoulder to shoulder with any film regardless of label. I wish more horror films were made this well, then maybe my favorite genre wouldn’t still be seen as a cinematic ghetto by many. The story has a wonderfully measured pace, a great mystery with occult overtones (shades of Angel Heart came to me when I watched this movie, and that’s a very good thing in my book), and believable characters you will actually care about. Yeah, that’s something else many modern films (especially horror movies) seem to forget, but that’s a rant for another day. It grabbed my attention from the start and didn’t let go until the very end, which actually had a scene in it that me say out loud; “What the hell?” A bigger compliment than that I could not give this movie. If you have yet to see The Taking of Deborah Logan, do so at once. 

Currently I have two anthologies from two different publishers going on at Kickstarter. The first one is from Golden Goblin Press and is for the book: Between Twilight and Dawn. The book collects eleven horror and weird fiction short stories totaling just over sixty thousand words. The theme of the collection is as its title says: all the stories begin at sunset and resolve by sunrise. Darkness and the horrors that hide within are what these tales are all about. These stories take place in a wide variety of locations and historical periods and deal with the Cthulhu Mythos, folklore, urban legends, and more.

Then from Dark Regions Press there is The Arkham Detective Agency, a Lovecraftian-noir tribute to the late, great C. J. Henderson.  C.J. was a hell of a writer, a good friend, and he did tough P.I. vs. the Cthulhu Mythos stories like no one else. He left us way too soon, but his literary legacy remains, to be enjoyed by countless readers, and to inspire authors to follow in his footsteps. Here you will find four C.J. classics about the Arkham Detective Agency, and 15 all new tales, set in that noir-tinged Cthulhu Mythos world by some of the best writers around.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Arkham Sanitarium, Soul Eater.

                         More like Lovecraft got stoned and decided he 
                                      didn't give a shit any more.


I know in advance that this review will be controversial, because on Amazon Prime Video, where I saw the movie, had four reviewers saying it was terrible, unwatchable, and don't bother. I was the only reviewer who actually liked the film.

Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater must not be confused with Arkham Sanitarium; a film I have not seen and cannot comment on. It was made in 2014 and stars Shannon Brown, Rinska Carrasco, Marc Edwards, and Ron Fitzgerald as Lewis Theobold. It is a found footage movie, about a Lovecraft Sex and Death Cult, set in an abandoned sanitarium. Shannon stars as Mark Chambers, an obnoxious wannabe who intends to become a star at any cost, and Rinska and Marc play Linda and Jerry Novak, who wish to beat him to the big story. Cue lots of roaming around in a dark and shadowy building, while odd noises and poltergeist activity scare the pants off of them, and attempt to scare the pants off of us. Then it gets weird.

I mean seriously weird, batshit insane in fact. Not since The Happiness of the Katakuris have I seen a film so bizarre and off the wall. It has possession, octopus puppets, torture porn, inappropriate humour, tentacle sex, unbelievably bad special effects, a man in a silly mask, and claymation. Yes, claymation. One gets the feeling that half way though making the movie they realised it wasn't going to be much good, so they decided to have as much fun as possible. And they still manage to put some genuine moments of fear in it. I think they would have made a truly terrifying movie if they had decided to take it seriously. As it is, Arkham Sanitarium: Soul Eater falls into the "so bad it's good" category.

I honestly suggest you try and see it. You may never take my verdict on movies seriously again, and you may even hate me, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I really enjoyed this movie. 


                           I wish I could show you the Claymation, 
                                        but this'll have to do.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Void.



I was looking forward to this movie with mingled hope and fear. Two kinds of fear in fact, the fear that it wouldn't live up to the hype, and the fear that it would.  For if The Void lived up to the hype, it would be terrifying.

Nowadays, movies are hyped up so much that disappointment is almost inevitable. The wise punter allows for this, and consequently, won't be too let down by the reality.

The reality is, this is a good movie. It has flaws, but so does everything, including some of  My favourite movies. It kept me watching right through to the end, which is a plus in itself.  I was even motivated to watch it a second time, and found it had improved on second viewing.  The first time I watched it I was in a bit of a strop about how long it took me to get it to play.  I watched it on Amazon Instant Video and it took forever to get sorted. Bloody Silverlight! Anyway. Because of said strop, I was unable to concentrate on the first half of the movie, and I missed a few things that helped the movie make sense.  I cannot tell you what, as this is a spoiler-free review.

I was not helped by the fact that the movie dragged in places in the first half.  The characters have to be introduced, their backstories have to be filled in a little, the scene has to be set.  Sadly for me the characters were totally uninteresting.  I really didn't engage with any of them except a nursing trainee: Kim, played by Ellen Wong.  Even when two rednecks broke into the hospital with violence on their minds I wasn't engaged.  Unpleasant men with violence on their minds are ten a penny in horror movies.  However, the special effects that were rationed out to us in the first half were enough to keep me watching. Monsters.  With tentacles!

The second half is where this film really picks up, there are monsters galore, mutilated humans, mutated humans, mutilated and mutated humans, and in time, The Void begins to open. There are some inspired moments that drew the breath from my body.  Some of the lines given to the main villain are wonderful, memorable. When enough people have seen the movie, I expect to see them quoted with the same frequncy as "We'll tear your soul apart!" and "Your suffering will be legendary, even in hell!"



There is a reason why Hellraiser comes to mind, and you'll see it yourself when you watch The Void. It is derivative, very derivative.  You will be reminded of Hellraiser a lot; also of Baskin, The Thing, Prince of Darkness and possibly a little of Fulci's The Beyond.

 Of course it's derivative, all movies are.  Plots don't materialise out of thin air, even when the screenwriter writes from scratch.  Even if the writer is not deliberately referencing any movie or book that has gone before, they won't be able to avoid using familiar tropes and scenarios.  This doesn't make it a bad movie, but it does commit the error of reminding the viewer of better movies than the one they are watching.



In spite of it's flaws, I enjoyed this movie, and will certainly watch it again.  It is not a great film, but I think it is a memorable one. Some images will stay with you, possibly forever. But I doubt the names of any of the protagonists will. The best thing about this movie? No CGI! It should get a gold star for that alone.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quatermass 2



Quatermass 2 is one of the best sci-fi horror films ever made, even though it is in black and white, even though the science is dated, even though the special effects are less than perfect. It has other names: The Quatermass Xperiment, and Enemy From Space, but I prefer Quatermass 2.

It stars Brian Donlevy as Quatermass, and I am glad to say he is less obnoxious in this film than he was in the first, as well as less hairy. The cast is almost exclusively male, so it not only fails the Bechdel test, but sets fire to the paper and dances on the ashes. There are many interesting supporting characters in this film, including Sid James as a reporter, and Vera James as Sheila, the barmaid, and of course there is Michael Ripper. A Hammer film isn't a proper Hammer film unless Michael Ripper is in it.  All of them come across as real people, an asset to the film as we care about what happens to them. This is a Quatermass film, nasty things will happen to them.

It stands out because of the extreme tension that pervades the whole film. Even though we know almost from the start that there is an invasion going on. We are Lovecraft fans, we know the significance of hollow meteorites when we see them. Nevertheless, nothing is predictable here, this is not your typical invasion. Like the next movie in the sequence, the unforgettable Quatermass and the Pit, the aliens are already here before the events of the film start. A big part of he tension comes from us discovering how deep the invading force has penetrated into our society. Indeed, at the end one is left wondering if the protagonists have detected all the domes, and if all the enslaved ones have been released.

I return to the domes, because they are the true stars of the film, and that is not to devalue any of the actors in any way. It is just to emphasise how magnificent they are, and how ominous. The word I believe is lowering. They lower over the movie. We first see them from a distance, thus




And then as a model, in their intended context as part of a moonbase.




And then, we get this.





They overwhelm and they dominate, and upon seeing them we just have to ask "Just what the hell is IN those things".  Be patient, for we will find out. So will Professor Quatermass.



There are many things in this film to chill our blood, and we don't have to wait long for them. I don't want to make a list of them all, but the robotic behaviour of the plant's employees is one of them, the ominous masks worn by the guards, and perhaps worst of all, blood dripping from a pipe that is supposed to be filled with gas. And then there are the contents of those domes. How anyone can see them and still say this film isn't Lovecraftian beats me. Indeed my first call was "shoggoth!", although these things are far more complex and intriguing than any shoggoth could be. It is true that the special effects fail us a little here, but I have seen much worse CGI, many times. And so have you.





Sunday, March 26, 2017



                                 The Call of Tutu, a short film all Lovecraft fans should see.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The well-informed people over at the Lovecraft eZine (a must for fans), recently put out a link to a short film called Blight, which was promoted as "a terrifying short horror film inspired by the H P Lovecraft story A Colour out of Space". Of course I had to watch it. But then I thought I'd check out the channel. There are only two films on this channel, and the other one is called Fools Errand. Of course I had to watch that one too.

One gets so used to these films being promoted as terrifying that one never believes it. Almost always they turn out to be very pedestrian efforts, badly-made, derivative and about as scary as Scooby Doo. In this case, they were telling the truth. Blight gave me a few nasty scares, and one jump scare. The production values are professional, the plot brief but full of import, and the monster genuinely scary. And repulsive, very repulsive. Amazingly this movie is dependant upon CGI, but the CGI actually works! The story is indeed inspired by A Colour Out of Space, but don't expect it to be faithful. There is indeed a blight, and a decaying farmhouse, and a family tragedy; but I won't spoil you as to the rest.

The second film, Fool's Errand, has a much more tenuous Lovecraft connection, set in an Egyptian tomb. However, Lovecraft did write Imprisoned With the Pharaohs, and Nyarlathotep, who in antique and shadowy Khem.... The plot is very predictable, and nothing special at all. But the way it is done! Again there's some CGI, and again it is done extremely well. There are some extremely gruesome effects in this short.

The man behind both films is called Goodman Walshe, and there is nothing on his channel about him, though I'm pretty sure that we will learn more of him in the future.

You can watch both these films in thirteen minutes, so no excuses for missing them!









Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Have you heard of Creepypasta?


I'm sure that many of you have, mainly in connection with Slenderman. I have a great love of listening to Creepypastas on YouTube. They vary in quality, from bad to excellent.


This one is excellent. Read by the wonderful Dr Creepen, with the vocal assistance of Black-eyed Blonde and Southern Cannibal, it was written by Ryan Brennerman and is called "No Such Thing as Ghosts".






No Such Thing as Ghosts.

Is it Lovecraft? I am sure that once you have finished the story you will answer "Yes" through trembling lips.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Author.


I have a huge apology to make to readers of this blog. Craig Mullins entrusted it to me when the encroachment of other things made it unfeasible for him to continue it. For some reason, (menopause, madness, incipient senility?) I forgot all about it, only discovering it when I went to start my new horror blog, Morbid and Unhealthy. 
So, now I intend to try and revive this blog, as soon as I can get my rusty old brain to produce some content. But I do have Quatermass 2 lined up to watch on DVD, which is Lovecraft as fuck. 
This is a film blog, though I may make occasional mention to books and to other media, but I do want to keep it Lovecraft. 
Briefly however, I want to define "Lovecraftian" here. 

Lovecraftian (ˈlʌvˌkrɑːftɪən)

adjective
referring to or reminiscent of the work of the American fantasy and horror fiction author H.P. Lovecraft (1870–1937)