Friday, October 12, 2007


A ludicrous title for a rather ho-hum horror film based loosely on the H. P. Lovecraft story, "The Colour Out of Space" (among other liberties, it moves Lovecraft's New England town of Arkham to England), though it works better if you imagine that it's a Poe movie. American Nick Adams has arrived to visit the Witleys, particularly the lovely young daughter (Suzan Farmer) whom he knew in college. Their property is a blasted landscape right out of Poe's "Usher" (though, to be fair, it's also described as a "blasted heath" in the original story) and the villagers shun the family. It turns out that Adams was sent for by Farmer's mother (Freda Jackson) who has become a virtual recluse due to some unknown illness; she wants Adams to take Farmer away, but her father (Boris Karloff) resents his interference. Adams and Farmer discover a greenhouse with mutant vegetation and animals caused by a glowing green meteorite which Karloff has locked up in the cellar. He believes it came from the sky as a "gift" from his devil-worshipping ancestor, but he willfully ignores the damage the rock is doing to his land, his wife, and his butler, who drops dead during dinner one night. There is an Usher-like apocalyptic climax with a burning house and Karloff gone nuts, transformed by the meteorite into a glowing, shiny-headed, putrefying monster, I suppose the very one that the title of the film wishes were dead. The cinematography (especially the use of widescreen) and color design are a bit artier than in the typical American International Poe film of the era, but little else here kept my attention. Karloff, confined to a wheelchair for most of the film, is fine; the blunt talking Adams is a nice change of pace from the usual bland hero. There are plot loopholes galore, as though the writers just gave up halfway through. One character, Helga the maid, is set up as a meteorite-poisoned madwoman who roams around the grounds, but she vanishes from the story with no explanation. Jackson's scarred features are hidden for most of the movie, but when we see them, the make-up is a big letdown. The mutant animals, in what Adams calls a "zoo from Hell," are a low-budget disappointment. Only Karloff's last transformation is at all effective (and I doubt that it's actually Karloff beneath the mask). Lovecraft fans are thrown a bone when Adams finds a book on the "Cult of the Outer Ones," though that just becomes another plot thread that leads nowhere. [DVD]

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