Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Out of Mind: The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft (1998)

One can only dream of having the privilege to meet and converse face to face with significant figures in history, to live the same events as our ancestors, or to reach out through time and take possession of the bodies of descendants in the future and never have to succumb to death. If such a book contained the key to making this possible, it would likely be best kept forbidden and locked away forever, lest we find ourselves in danger from our own ancestors clawing away at our souls, trying to take possession of our lives. If you, like the main character in tonight’s film review, often find yourself dreaming that you are someone else in an entirely different time period, then it’s possible you may have been cursed from someone high above you in your own family tree that wants your life very much. 
By the way, all of this talk about taking the lives of descendants is the theme to H.P. Lovecraft’s THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD, which is the basis for Raymond Saint-Jean’s 56-minute long, made for TV film, OUT OF MIND: THE STORIES OF H.P. LOVECRAFT. As the title suggests, the film also contains familiar scenarios from a few other Lovecraft tales that fans will likely enjoy noticing. However, the film’s main highlight is that it actually includes a very convincing H.P. Lovecraft played with stellar acting by Christopher Heyerdahl, who teaches us how CTHULHU is really pronounced. A pronunciation I’m unable to duplicate myself despite multiple attempts.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jess Franco's A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1971)

To have never met or even known one’s own family is a sad thing indeed, but to finally be reunited with your relatives only to discover that you’d have been far better off never knowing them is truly the saddest thing of all. A young ladies first time discovery of her bizarre and outlandish relatives in a homecoming from Hell is the subject of tonight’s film review for a Belgian, Italian, and French financed film shot in Portugal that was written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco (wait don’t leave!), known as A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD. 
The film follows Christina (Christina von Blanc) travelling home from a boarding school in London, in order to visit her relatives at the Castle Monteserate and to attend the reading of her father’s Will. Odd thing is she has never known her father or even met her relatives, and according to an Innkeeper and the village locals, the castle she is headed for is apparently abandoned. But nonetheless, Christina continually insists and believes that her whole family lives there. 
During the intro credits, the film illustrates Christina’s Journey to the village with travelling shots of very normal and mundane location visuals that clash with the dissonant and creepy music that is being heard. This for me suggests that danger can be nearby at even the most unexpected instances and reminds us that we live with the constant risk of heading into treacherous perils without even knowing it. This is definitely the case for Christina, who is most unsuspecting of the threat that awaits her back home… A threat in the form of a seductive lady in black, guiding her to the ultimate destination in life…