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July 1, 2021

A Binge too Far #17: Horror Meltdown

Stunning image from Color Out of Space (2019)


Welcome back to the internet’s least popular film discussion blog! This time around we take a look on two horror goodies from 2019.




Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)


Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark

Set in Small Town, America, during the time when Night Of The Living Dead (1968) still played drive-ins and Richard Nixon was running for president, this is about the struggles of the nerds (led by the peculiarly beautiful Zoe Margaret Colletti) against the jocks, but things become even worse for the protagonists when a haunted book cannot read by them but reads them instead, as in dictating their faiths that suffice to say are not that good.


It is no wonder that amidst the current Stephen King renaissance that spawned homages such as Stranger Things (2016 – ongoing) that a film like this would come to fruition, however its fault is that it is not that scary as per the title’s promise. However, the youths in producer Guillermo del Toro’s film are battling against a variety of monsters that include a scarecrow and the ghost witch (don’t expect an attractive gothic witch, the one her is grotesque) that initiated the aforementioned book, and all of them are stunning thanks to great work done both by the practical effects teams and the CGI ones; and there is even a rollercoaster-like haunted house in display as well, making this an entertaining opus, if not a highly recommended one. Directed by Andre Ovredal.


Color Out Of Space (2019)


Color Out of Space (2019)

Following “the operation” (i.e. mastectomy) his wife (Joely Richardson recently had, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage, in the wake of a string of awesome movies that he recently did) takes her and their son Benny (Brendan Meyer, a young TV actor) and Wicca daughter (Madeleine Arthur, a gorgeous young actress that is mostly recognizable due to her television work) away from the city and to a secluded house and farm they just bought.


Their newly found life in the middle of nowhere seems to be dysfunctional but nothing out of the ordinary (they just seem like a family that recently left the city behind and trying to adapt to willing isolation); that is until a strangely colored meteorite (hence the title) is crashing on their backyard and with it bringing a number of consequences that at first seem to be coincidences, but soon it becomes apparent that something strange is going on as members of the family and the community start losing it and animals turn into mutant monsters.


Based upon H.P. Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space (1927) short story, the screenplay by Richard Stanley (who also directed) and Scarlett Amaris, is offering poetic voice over (in the beginning and the end) and equally haunting dialogues (throughout the entire picture and by almost every member of the cast) that co-exist perfectly with the dreamy visuals, while tonally it echoes the sensibilities of classic sci-fi of the 1950s and pollution/infection cinema of the 1970s.


The protagonist family is surrounded by an air of tenderness, similar to what you usually see in 1980s movies and that generation’s ruling ethics, and it is all greatly disrupted by the collective hysteria and madness that is about to ensue. All of the above would be of great interest to most readers of this blog, but wait until you see the monsters! Mutated, disfigured, and transformed to uncanny forms by god knows what, these creatures are so otherworldly that one can’t help but imagine what Stuart Gordon or Brian Yuzna would do if they had them at their disposal. One thing is certain, this is one of the greatest Lovecraft adaptations ever, and not just story-wise, but in terms of mood and atmosphere as well.


The film’s pace is not conventional (the first act is particularly strange), and everything here has semiotic meaning, something blatantly so and sometimes disguised. It’s all brilliantly wrapped with cinematographer Steve Annis’ stunning and breath-taking color palette; we wouldn’t have it any other way with a title like that.


This was a difficult project for Stanley to get off the ground, as he was sort of unofficially blacklisted in Hollywood due to the massive box-office failure of The Island Of Dr. Moreau (1996). He really wanted to make the film though as he was obsessed with Lovecraft’s story since he was a kid when he first read it after being introduced to the legendary writer’s works by his mother. In turn, when his mother was dying he was reading this story in her deathbed. He managed to raise interest when he uploaded a trailer online in 2013, and SpectreVision announced their collaboration in 2015. By 2018 Nicolas Cage was on board and by 2019 ACE Pictures joined too, making principal photography able to begin. The end result premiered at 2019 Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section when Nicolas Cage won the Creative Coalition’s Spotlight Initiative Award. Then a limited theatrical release followed, while now the film is available to stream and buy. Stanley went on record to say that this is only the first film of a Lovecraft adaptations trilogy that he is preparing. We say, bring it on!


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