on March 3, 2008
..."Strange Aeons", based on the HPL tale "The Thing on the Doorstep" is a bit of a disappointment. Director Eric Morgret tries hard and provides a few decent moments - primarily his shot of the ghoulish-green Asenath (which adorns the evocative DVD cover) which is achieved with some clever mise en scene and the grim ending has some typically HPL-style paranoia. However, some of Morgret's influences are all too clear and a little jarring. Kobayashi Masaki's "Kwaidan" is lifted for the imagery of Waite's face covered in black inked glyphs and the derivative "Return of the Jedi"-style 'Luke meets the Emperor and gets barbequed' showdown between Upton and Waite detracts from a story that doesn't need overt pop culture references to succeed.
Acting-wise it's a mixed bag. Erick J. Robertson's Derby, is a plodding, somnambulistic exercise, while J.D Lloyd plays Derby's mentor, Upton, and his spiral into madness really well. Angela Grillo seems to relish the part of Asenath, getting a few excellent opportunities early on to establish herself with some fun dialogue and sneering looks. But it's Jerry Lloyd's turn as Robert Black that steals the show in a single outstanding scene full of madness and menace with an interesting stage design evocative of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Overall, "Strange Aeons" is a long film at over one buck fifteen and could have done with some judicious editing.
The additonal film on the DVD, "Maria's Hubris," is a German version of the same story and its really very good. At only 13 minutes long and directed by Patrick Weber it's got more dramatic impact than the main feature and a claustrophobic visual style in keeping with a tale involving body-swapping. The small, generally more mature, cast have a typically German grittiness and expressivity about them which tends to overshadow the younger and more inexperienced American cast of "Strange Aeons."
Nonetheless, buy this DVD, watch it on its own merits and I'm sure you'll enjoy aspects of it. Just don't expect a "Cool Air" or "Pickman's Model."
on March 19, 2008
Very interesting adaption though -- like a lot of them -- the inseration of sex is something I wonder if old HPL would have appreciated. The Thing on the Doorstep is one of the lesser Cthulhu stories but, like all the previous editions in this series, well worth adding to your collection.