A Night of Horror: Night Four - 29/03/09
By: Mr Intolerance on March 31, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Share 

And so the evil genii at A Night of Horror have done it again. In their third year of presenting a collection of short films based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft, or at least on the vibe their stories produce, a fine grab bag of weird fiction was unleashed upon the audience. A brief rundown of the programme is as follows:

Allure (Dir: Ian Hunter/11 minutes/USA): Rather a film that was Lovecraftian kind of by default by the director's own admission (Hunter, who's worked on a large number of Hollywood blockbusters as Special Effects supervisor, was present for a brief introduction and a Q&A at the end of the film), this eerie tale of looking for love in all the wrong places was a hit with the crowd, and I'd recommend your watching it too – great cinematography.

H.P. Lovecraft (music video – Dir: Russell Fox/5 minutes/USA): A goofy industrial/metal video clip which was entertaining without really blazing any new trails.

Come To Us (Dir: Edward Martin III/3 minutes/USA): A very brief riff on the end of Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth, I can't say I was overly impressed with this rather static piece of work. Maybe next time Mr Director, maybe next time...

A Mere Et Marees (Dir: Alain Fournier/19 minutes/Canada): Now this was a standout. I would thoroughly recommend any Lovecraft fan do their damndest to hunt this bad boy down. Subtle, unnerving and somehow icily evil, this film delivered a sort of dread and domestic tragedy I reckon old HPL would have been proud of, again in the vein of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, albeit on a smaller, more family-based scale. A definite highlight.

Casting Call of Cthulhu (Dir: Joseph Nanni/9 minutes/Canada): This was a blackly funny hoot. A director and his producer are having a casting call for a film based on Lovecraft's works, and the actors who turn up are all Lovecraftian mutants – talk about typecasting! Clever fun – and when one of the Great Race of Yith turns up, larfs ensue; done by fans of Lovecraft, for fans of Lovecraft.

The Book Dealers (Dir: Andrew Jones/8 minutes/USA): For some reason this brief animated piece reminded me of David Firth's animations, like "Salad Fingers" and "Burnt Face Man" and the like. Maybe it was just the style of animation? A nice idea here, but one that I think needed a fair bit more work before this rather lacklustre execution. That said, it was definitely one of the more faithfully Lovecraftian films.

H.P. Lovecraft's "The Book" (Dir: James Raynor/11 minutes/UK): Let down at times by some rather histrionic acting by one of the thespians, this adaptation of Lovecraft's "The Book" and "The Descendant" was a pretty decent riff on Lovecraft's whole "scholar goes barking mad becoming obsessed by an obscure occult tome" story that we saw the big fella do so many times, especially in his earlier, less mature work. Still, not too shabby.

Langliena (Dir: Emiliano Ranzani/7 minutes/Italy): One of the more Poe-inspired stories, this made little if any impression on me. Oh well.

Morella (Dir: Jeff Ferrell/10 minutes/USA): Not a favourite Poe story of mine, the film adhered well to the original tale, but that wasn't exactly going to spell big fun for me – another of Poe's neurasthenic 'heroes' who falls obsessively in love with a much younger woman he oughtn't – tragedy ensues. Well done if you like that kind of thing; the lack of budget worked against it, especially from a costuming and props point of view.

AM 1200 (Dir: David Prior/40 minutes/USA): Personally I thought that this rather fine short was just a tad too long, and I must say I didn't get the link to Lovecraft until the final few scenes, but this one was a big hit with the reasonably packed house (about 2/3 of a 300+ seat venue). Good production values, decent acting (look out for a star turn by Ray Wise – Leland Palmer from TV's Twin Peaks), and it's eay to see why. Unnerving, certainly, and worth your while checking out.

Not a bad program, for the short film enthusiast or the Lovecraft fan – I fit into both camps, so I was a pretty happy camper. Time for refreshments, so me and my buddy fucked off up the road for beer and sustenance (can't beat roast pork belly, kids!), and then it was back for the feature presentation, Finale. As per usual, there was a bit of horror trivia first with give-aways of some Insomnia DVDs as prizes (guess who scored a free copy of Shrooms?), and then an introduction to the film by director John Michael Elfers, who'd flown into Sydney for the world premier of his film. I actually met Elfers the previous night at the pub, and he's a nice guy, quite a friendly, open and humble dude – and he certainly knows his horror films; we had a quite lively discussion on Argento – I have to disagree with him though, Suspiria is a far superior film to Deep Red.

Finale is a film that was sold to the audience in the A Night of Horror programme as a giallo, but for my money was more like Argento's supernatural slashers than his black-leather-gloved killer films. Regardless, it's a film that stands alone on its own merits, and for which comparisons are odious. It's a dense, multi-layered film about the mysterious death of a son under some very strange circumstances indeed, and the family's coming to terms with that – the mother's especially; that's one very good performance right there, let me tell you, with some truly bizarre and quite disturbing imagery peppered throughout the film (occasional parts of Finale reminded me of the remake of House on Haunted Hill, others of The Third Mother, but good), sometimes taking a left-turn into the supernaturally unsettling. Like Argento's best work, not everything is solved by the end of the movie, and a lot of what you see simply goes completely unanswered, but there are some awesome pay-offs for your patience, and I really do recommend that a) you seek this film out and watch it – you won't be disappointed, and b) you keep an eye on that name: John Michael Elfers – it's a name that you'll be hearing more of in the future, let me tell you. A young director with a future – as well as a certain amount of sartorial savoir-faire...

From there it was off, for the young people, to Club 77 for the next part of the programme, but people like me who are getting far too close to 40 know that nightclubbing on a Sunday night is not a great idea when you have to front up for work the next day. The feature film: Burn Paris Burn – no, not a self-help guide for Ms Hilton, but rather a film about a young witch who helps a Satanic young musician become bigger than Ben-Hur. Not a film I could I say I was totally enamoured of, given the music and the persona of the musician was all too similar to the industrial-metal stylings of Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson – personally, I'd prefer to gargle iron filings in salty cyanide than listen to such stuff, but, hey, who can understand kids these days? The film is shot for the MTV crowd, in terms of editing and effects, and is not really for the likes of me, and I've never really been all that keen on the whole Hi-Def camerawork thing either. The scenes of the giant musician stomping his way through Paris like Godzilla through Tokyo, top-hatted and corpse-painted with many an explosion, simply had me yawning. There were also the following horror shorts to enjoy, none of which I'd seen:

Anyone There? (Dir: Holger Frick/10 minutes/Germany)

Kagimiko (Dir: Mathieu Arsenault/13 minutes/Canada)

The Flies (Dir: Josh Collier/5 minutes/UK)

Stygian Horizon (Dir: Evan Chan/5 minutes/Canada)

Shapes (Dir: Alan Brennan/5 minutes/Ireland)

Still Life (Dir: Daniel McKleinfeld/9 minutes/USA)

Oh, so you want more? Well the fine folks at A Night Of Horror also had these horror-themed music videos up for your delectation:

More Control (Steve Daniels/USA), The Beauty (Luca Vecchi/Italy), Hunt (Yohei Ito/Japan), Francois Martin By The Tenth Stage (John Van Ahien/Australia), Karaoke Show (Kari Tebbe/Germany), The Man Who Made Monsters (Onethirtyeight/UK), Crystal (Jason Lapeyre/Canada), Haunted By The Thought of You (Terran Schackor/USA).

And that's A Night of Horror for another night – next is the USA feature Plague Town and the awesome Italian short film Una Storia Di Lupi (aka A Wolf's Tale) – I've seen it and it's fucking great – featuring one of my all-time heroes Franco Nero – am I gonna be there? You'd better fuckin' believe it! Look out for the hobo in the three-piece suit – that'll be me; come and say g'day and you might want to drift past the bar first – mine's a schooner of Tooheys Old. See you there!

<< Night Two - 27/03/09 | Night Five - 30/03/09 >>

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