Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Color Out Of Space (2019,

Color Out Of Space has Nicholas Cage balancing his two distinct types of acting: calm, collected, normal and completely unhinged. I think the movie could have used more Cage freakouts, however in this case his dad operates as the film’s main source of stability. Once the center fails to hold and things fall apart, he comes unglued. This was also a pretty good Lovecraft adaption as far as those go.

Elliot Knight’s plays a Hydrologist working for a big company who shows up near the property of the Gardner family. The mom is played by Joely Richardson, Brendan Meyer plays the son and Madeleine Arthur the daughter. They’re a happy, normal bunch until a meteorite crashes into their front yard. From then on, things get weird, very quickly. If there ever was a movie about not trusting the local drinking water, it would be this one.

Even though most of this film is a slow burn, I was never bored and that is all just building up to the film’s last, insane act. The special effects were pretty good here too, and I liked how it ended. Even if this isn’t a great flick it is a pretty good one. More modern adaptations of Lovecraft works, please.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Messiah of Evil (1973, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck)

Equal parts slow burn, nightmare fuel and zombie film, Messiah of Evil is one one those 1970s cult gems that people talk about years later. There are two scenes that echo in my mind: one is a grocery store one that is super freaky, the other takes place in a movie theater which calls to mind Carnival of Souls. Both are highly effective and add to the film’s overall high eerie factor that works very much in it’s favor.

Arletty (Marianna Hill) goes to a small California town in search of her father, played by Royal Dano. Running into an old man (Elisha Cook, Jr.) who tells her about a dark prophecy straight out of a Lovecraft story. She ends up joining a rich guy (Michael Greer) and his two female pals (Joy Bang and Anitra Ford) who hang around despite all of them, Arletty included, reading her father’s spooky diary.

In fact much of this movie has the look and feel of a Lovecraft adaption, with some solid nods to George A. Romero, of course. The final act is your quality 1970s finale that has no qualms about being gloomy. I liked this movie a lot and I might watch it again if Shudder still keeps the rights or Tubi has it. This kind of movie is why I love 1970s horror so much: it has guts, literally.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Castle Freak (1995, Stuart Gordon)

How to know you’re in a horror movie: you have been blinded in a car accident, your parents are played by Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, and Combs’ haunted ex professor is moving the family into a huge Italian castle. This is Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak, an exercise in slow burning fear that, although a bit too slow, is still creepy and entertaining.

I mean you have a movie where a deranged monster escapes and the family hangs around, because…why not? Sure later on they can’t leave but the minute I found out the castle had a rather serious issue I would be running far, far away. Yet when the blind daughter, played by Jessica Dollarhide, tells her parents someone is in the castle they dismiss her as hearing things. The fact that her parents are fighting only complicates things and adds to more problems later on.

One thing I like about Gordon’s work so far (I’ve seen his two other Lovecraft inspired films from the 80s) is that he embodies his movies with a sense of dread, plus gore. The creature effects here are nasty and brutal enough, and the last act is suspenseful. Despite its flaws Castle Freak is a solid entry in the “Don’t go in the house” type of movie, which by the 90s seemed to be on life support for some reason.

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

19. The Call of Cthulhu (2005, Andrew Leman)

Not enough horror movies these days make use of black and white, which is a shame since color doesn’t allow for enough creepy shadows and areas where you are not sure if evil being is hiding in the darkness, ready to emerge and swallow your soul while chewing on your remaining body parts. The Call of Cthulhu (2005), based on the classic Lovecraft tale (which I have sadly not read) is unfortunately way too limited, although its still a really cool horror movie that was a nice throwback to the old days of horror cinema. Back when atmosphere was more important than random jump scares and gore, although I do like jump scares done right and I do love gore. Yet its fun to revisit classic Gothic horror, reveling in how budget limitations and censorship forced upon the filmmaker by the studio could result in some truly effective horror films, ones that would dig under you skin and echo in your thoughts hours later. I’m sure that movies such as The Call of Cthulhu scared the daylights out of people back then.

Anyways The Call of Cthulhu (2005) utilizes black and white cinematography and old school monster animation to give the viewer an eerie look into an adaption of a tale most chilling. I’ve always found the idea of Lovecraft’s creatures really existing, waiting somewhere to re-emerge into our world, creating and wrecking havoc upon mankind. Thankfully that is not the case, as the so called Elder Ones are the figments of a deceased man’s imagination. From what I understand Lovecraft worked best in describing horrors unseen and unknown, and this is why the best takes on his work capture that spirit rather well. Cthulhu in that regard does its job well, and should be checked out by those who enjoy such tales. I would love to see the film’s creators bring to life more of Lovecraft’s stories, all decked out in glorious black and white.

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