Monday, October 05, 2009

A Day Late

Attending the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival this past weekend meant that I was unable to update yesterday. But I'm taking the day off work, so here are the few books I read last week:

  1. Northlanders, book 2: The Cross and the Hammer by Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly. I didn't enjoy this quite as much as the first volume, but it's still good. (Checked out of the library.)
  2. Flight, volume 4 by various. Comics anthology (Borrowed from Teena.)
  3. Skitzy: The Story of Floyd W. Skitzafroid. (Library.)
  4. All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, vol. 1 by Frank Miller & Jim Lee. Completely over the top and brilliant in its stupidity. (Library.)
  5. Torchwood: Rift War by various. This didn't impress me. (Library.)

And now: What I saw at the HPL Film Festival this year:
  • Pickman's Muse. This really needed to be tighter. It dragged quite a bit.
  • The Mist. This years big Hollywood film (the festival has one of these each year). Absolutely excellent.
  • Shorts Block 1. As usual, the shorts blocks are a mixed bag. In this one, the outstanding films were "Elder Sign", a parody of medication commercials, and "The Prey", a twist on Lovecraft's story "The Terrible Old Man." Also good were "The Quiet Darkness" and "Tinglewood." I did not care for "Lovecraft Paragraphs" which is an attempt to let Lovecraft's prose speak for itself by using text-to-speech software to read selections from a variety of stories. However, the lack of human inflection, the random visual imagery, and the fact that there is no narrative all combined to make this unmemorable. It just washed over me and left no impression (other than boredom).
  • Shorts Block 3. Three longer short films. Pretty good, although the plot of "Dirt Dauber" doesn't stand up to even the least consideration.
  • Relic of Cthulhu. The outstanding film of the festival this year. Very funny (intentionally so, unlike some of the films that get shown at this festival). Lots of fun.
  • The Haunted Palace. For a Roger Corman movie, this actually had a budget and production values. Plus Vincent Price! However, I was quite tired by the late showing on Saturday night, and I was nodding off during this.
  • Shorts Block 2. I enjoyed both "Seance" and "Forlorn Hope" (although the ending of the latter doesn't work very well). Didn't much like "The Dead Don't Lie". The description in the program describes this as a comedy, although you'd never know it from the film itself.
  • Night of the Eagle. 1962 British adaptation of Fritz Leiber's Conjure Wife. Very good, although it doesn't actually earn the ending.
  • Colour from the Dark. Unfortunately this was the last thing Teena & I saw. Neither of us liked this. On a technical level, it is good, with fine direction, cinematography, etc. But on a story level, it's a complete mess. On at least FIVE occasions, something horrific happens, only to have a character wake up from a bad dream. Unless you're developing a story specifically about dreams and nightmare, one "it was just a dream" scene is pushing it. Five is completely ridiculous. I got the impression that the screenwriter didn't throw out a single idea. "Hey, it'd be cool if Lucia were taking a bath & then took a razor and sliced open her cheek." "We can't do that. We need her character later in the movie." "But that would be so cool. We have to use it. Tell you what, we'll just make it a dream sequence."

Despite ending with a movie we disliked, both Teena and I had a blast at the festival.

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