on July 14, 2010
I agree with "klaar" - Barret Walz in absolutely fascinating as Pickman in this film which is full of stellar performances of captivating characters (including Fredrick Stone's near-perfect art dealer), masterful direction and cinematography, excellent music, and pacing that keeps the whole thing moving in the way this Lovecraftian story should. Based on H. P. Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark" there are scenes in an abandoned church that, shot by incredible cinematographer Robert Cappelletto (who also directed), convey the essence of the crumbling ancientness of Lovecraft's dark church on Federal Hill in Providence.
I am so happy to see amazingly faithful films of Lovecraft's work and this is definitely one of the best. Lovecraft's stories have been so misused by TV and movies that there is probably an entire generation (or two) who just think of his stuff as schlock cinema. This film will help change those perceptions and will also help Lovecraft's work move to the screen in the manner it shoud - respectfully and seriously.
The stars are right for this one, folks. Cosmic horror never looked so good.
on July 16, 2010
I was able to see the premier of this movie almost a year ago and was amazed how much I enjoyed it. H.P. Lovecraft's printed stories seduce you willingly or not into them and this movie is faithful to the allure of this author's ability to create psychological mayhem. As a painter I found myself compelled to follow Pickman, emphatizing with his drive to create. Through the cinematography and script the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat to see how Pickman will treat his "gift". This movie is well written, acted, the director paints a vivid picture of possession and the cinematography brings it all alive. Well worth my while and would gladly go to see another Lovecraft project by this producer.
on November 26, 2011
I must admit I have reservations about buying Pickman's Muse at the 14.95 cost, even with the photo cover on Lovecraft oriented Unfilmable, but I must say I am happy I relented. Here it is. Robert Cappelletto's $5000.00 vision hammer rams into a nightmare that the master, HP Lovecraft, would have been proud of. No spoilers here, folks. Being a fan of low budget horror films made by non Hollywood hackers, considering the difficult task of camera work, actors, and effects, and adapting Lovecraft to the screen, Robert Cappelletto has done an excellent job with his resources.
The film has the classic Lovecraft touches: a tormented man haunted by his discovery of other world intelligences, an old, Gothic church, a mental ward patient who saw too much, the classic HPL ending, and an official investigative wrap that brings the story into horror focus. The tale is based on 'Haunter of the Dark" and "Pickman's Model that blends the two into a terrific whole. The camera work is excellent in capturing an atmosphere of wonder and dread, with the lighting a critical factor. The church scenes themselves are very nice- where he found such a ruin I could never guess. The acting is reasonable-nothing that fails noted. And the climax is better than I envisioned when I read the original "Haunter of the Dark" tale.
If Robert Cappelletto had a film budget and more money for production, he would be one of the greats of Lovecraft cinema. The DVD itself has deleted scenes, extended scenes, trailer and photo gallery, but no director commentary - shame! The product does so well in the packaging but fell flat with no commentary.
Fix it, Robert Cappelletto! Or put a commentary on the next one!
on July 21, 2010
This adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Haunter of the Dark" is a visually striking and eerily effective blending of the author's elements, and one of the best HPL films I've seen. Eschewing splashy gore effects, it focuses on building an ominous mood and revealing the slow decay of the main character's mental state as he glimpses "worlds unknown" and grinds his way down into violent madness. Beautiful cinematography and economic storytelling balance the claustrophobic environments of the artist's studio and the expansive mysteries of the abandoned church, while suggesting a darker and more malevolent cosmos lurking just beyond this false-front reality.
Key to the movie is the twitchy, introverted and hypnotic performance of Barret Walz. His self-absorbed and socially awkward character could easily alienate the audience, but instead betrays glimpses of vulnerability, loss, and yearning that underlies his visionary drive and artistic obsessions. He's supported by the terrific and colorful turns of a cast of accomplished character actors, including the avuncular Maurice McNicholas, fragile Edy Cullen, and the seething menace of Tom Lodewyck as fellow mad-artist Goodie Hines.
This movie is also a remarkable achievement on a limited budget. Dir. Robert Cappelletto has wisely focused on good storytelling over splashy effects, while still crafting a top-notch look and feel. The insidiously creepy aural landscape digs even deeper, with great sound design and a moody and effective score. Clearly more influenced by the suggestive horror of Val Lewton than today's splatter-tropes, this is a movie for anyone looking for more substance to their scares. A real treat for fans of Lovecraft's writings, as well as anyone seeking atmospheric, old-style horror thrills.
on July 13, 2010
Barret Walz is stellar in his performance of Robert Pickman. Tom Lodewick is fantastic as Goodie Hines. Don't miss this well-(love)crafted film!
on October 25, 2013
Let me write it for you....
Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft? Do you enjoy having your sanity blasted to the Stygian depths of Yuggoth, there to be trod on and toyed with by every batrachian Old One, Deep One, Unknown One? Have you gazed into the Black Stone until vertigo overtakes you, and eons later when you awake, found yourself gripped by forces beyond your ken, forced to put brush to canvas? Would you name that force "Starry Wisdom"?
If so, you might be able to identify with Robert Pickman, and his mysterious, demanding muse. Poor lonely, mirthless Pickman, the weight of that other world (and its inhabitants) on his shoulders. Weight as heavy as that of the old abandoned church on Federal Hill. No amount of therapy or medication can lighten his burden. He may not see to live tomorrow, and after watching this, you might not as well.
on October 7, 2013
I liked the film and would recommend it for any Lovecraft fan. I feel this is one of the "better" attempts at a Lovecraft film. It has some very dark atmospheres and a doomed feel throughout the whole film. If you are a fan I say give it a try.
on February 25, 2015
I was very disappointed in this movie. Don't get me wrong. It's an extremely well made film on a low budget with excellent actors. My problems come first from how they've chosen to update this to the present, & second how they've completely thrown out the inherent monster-story of the original. It's hard to make a story about a thing that's supposed to eventually show up & kind of sort of doesn't. Instead, they dig up (horror pun) old Lovecraft tropes like weird math, images that shouldn't be seen, obsessive insanity, churches that have been corrupted from their original Christian-Judeo faith, arcane cult conspiracies, manipulative lunatics & insane asylums. Those all make it sound intriguing, right? Sadly, most of these things are never more than introduced & not really all that fleshed out nor explored; just glimpsing teases really, which in a way I suppose is where it adheres closest to the original story.
Because nothing is fully explained it feels like either a too long X-Files episode or Twilight Zone at 75 minutes, but too short because maybe with more budget it could have stretched out & told properly. People complain about the Cthulhu film from a few years ago for it's gay content, lack of monsters & Wicker Man horror cliches but it's a remarkable thriller compared to this that had a legitimate mystery & air about it that made you want to see it through to the end. *SPOILER* Yeah sure, there was no Cthulhu but a Cthulhu Cult & an end of the World man-turning-into-monsters Apocalypse. *END* Same thing can be said for Stuart Gorden's Dagon. The film is low-rent exploitative full of sex & gore but he gets the feel for Lovecraft right & it's chock full of the Dagon Cult & Innsmouth-style fish people. Also, it seemed to have an influence on other media that followed like both Bethesda's Call of Cthulhu game & Resident Evil 4. Compared to those efforts, Pickman's Muse is simply boring with an unexplained jump scare gotcha ending, which means, it might as well be a horror story written by any author other than Lovecraft, & that's where the true shame lies.
on July 21, 2010
"The Haunter of the Dark" is one of my two all-time favourite tales by H. P. Lovecraft, and I was overwhelmed when I saw this magnificent cinematic adaptation on the big screen at last year's H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival. The trailer may be seen at YouTube and there you can catch a glimpse of the power this film contains, especially the lead actor's brilliant performance and the interior/exterior shots of that haunted church! I look forward to seeing this DVD, and I'm very proud that they used a quote of mine on the back of the DVD box. As soon as I've watched the DVD I shall give a full review of it and the film here. Highly recommended!
UPDATE: Yesterday's post brought me the DVD of this amazing film, and although I can watch DVDs only on the small screen of my laptop, I was sucked into this powerful Lovecraftian film completely; indeed, the film so gets under your skin that to watch it alone, in your basement, with your headphones on, is a potently CREEPY feeling! The DVD is very attractive, and the only thing it lacks that I would have enjoyed is a behind-the-scenes segment shewing the making of the film and interviewing Robert Cappelletto, who is the poetic genius behind the production. Not only did he direct the film and write its screenplay, he also served as the film's editor, and editing is such an amazingly important aspect, indeed that's where a film often comes completely to life, finds its rhythm, &c. There are no accidents in this film, there is nothing extraneous -- it is a perfect whole, from the opening image of ghastly red paint dripping from a brush to the image of water dripping from a rag around a ceiling pipe to the final awesome image of unearthly black water dripping from a shard of broken glass. The other reviews have mentioned the power of Barret Walz's magnetic performance, which is realistic in every way. He is stunning, but he does not carry the film alone. Maurice McNicholas as Dr. Dexter gives a solid yet strange performance that is keeping with such Lovecraftian "old men" as Dr. Willet in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," Dr. Whipple in "The Shunned House," and Henry Armitage in "The Dunwich Horror." He is the sane man who has had a brush with cosmic horror and the madness that such horror can spawn, who finds himself once more caught into a web of nameless menace. As portrayed in this film, the Dr. is a rather ineffective adversary, yet the tragedy of his experience is revealed full-force with a performance that grows in tragic portrayal. One of the strongest scenes in the brilliant screenplay is the meeting between Robert Pickman and Goodie Hines (played with splendid lunacy by Tom Lodewick) -- one can feel the fusion of these souls whose sanity has been melted by their encounter with cosmic nightmare. The use of light and darkness in this film is brilliant. But most important, for me as an obsessed Lovecraft fan, is that the film is absolutely successful in conjuring the power of Lovecraft's original story, all the while being the director's unique interpretation of that story. One of the fine moments that caused me to gasp in eldritch Lovecraftian pleasure is the bit where a flock of birds are flying toward the Starry Wisdom steeple, only to suddenly divert its course and turn away from the haunted edifice. This is straight out of Lovecraft:
"He believed that a vague, singular aura of desolation hovered over the place, so that even pigeons and swallows shunned its smoky eaves. Around other towers and belfries his glass would reveal great flocks of birds, but here they never rested."
Also directly from Lovecraft is the spectral image of the church against the moving sky, as Lovecraft describes it, "...at sunset the great tower and tapering steeple loomed blackly against the flaming sky." The colour of that flaming sky is caught to perfection in this film, in a shade of orange-yellow that becomes one of the recurring visual motifs. This is contrasted, expertly, when the preternatural storm comes to the city, its black and tempest swirling around the steeple of Starry Wisdom, and then the daemon that issues from that steeple as a black cloud of sentient smoke. PICKMAN'S MUSE is, all in all, a perfect cinematic portrayal of that which rocks my world, that fabulous creature that we call "Lovecraftian horror." Ia!
on October 9, 2011
As other reviewers have said, Lovecraft's work has taken quite a beating over the years. "Pickman's Muse" is so faithful to its source material. "The Haunter of the Dark" is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories and this movie builds briliantly off of it. There are some changes to the story but these ar far from detractors. It feels almost like a continuation of "Haunter" save for a few details. Fans of Lovecraft and of good psychological horror will enjoy this film. It deserves every award it got and then some.