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Not bad at all--Paul Darrow shines
on May 19, 2009
It seems to have escaped another reviewer here that "Dreams of Cthulhu: The Rough Magik Initiative" is the second entry in the Lovecraft Collection, an anthology that brings together disparate film elements by unconnected film makers in the Lovecraft mythos.
This collection begins with "Rough Magik", an unaired television pilot. Paul Darrow (Doctor Who, Blake's Seven, Hammer House of Horror) really shines as the lead character, Mr. Moon, in a story about The Night Scholars, a special division of the military, bent on winning the war between the dreamers, and The Sleeping God, who is waking. The Rough Magik Initiative is the operation that the military uses, hoping to seek out dreamers before the Sleeping God makes them do bad, gruesome things.
Unfortunately, there are more dreamers than Mr. Moon and the Night Scholars can handle, and if the TV series had been picked up, this would have been a great format to follow their efforts on a weekly basis where just about anything could happen.
Shot in 1999, Rough Magik predates Torchwood, Threshold, Primeval and many other shows that, other than the H.P. Lovecraft elements, basically follow the same lines. I don't know that there will ever be a good time for an episodic series based on graphic Lovecraftian horror, but had it gotten a proper budget, with Paul Darrow attached to it, I think Rough Magik would have been as good as any of the other genre shows that DID see air.
It reminds me of another unaired pilot, Global Frequency, and proves that it was before its time in that so many other shows in the same vein became successful afterward.
Other entries on the disk are short films "Experiment 17" and "Experiment 18", "The Terrible Old Man", and "From Beyond" (not to be confused with the feature film of the same name).
Also to be found are short interviews with some of the film makers and a great commentary track for "Rough Magik" by the writer/director that really helps put the work in perspective.
It's a rough production, and even he acknowledges that, but I think with the backing of the right studio (they approached the BBC, who later did go on to make some of the aforementioned shows), Rough Magik would have been a daring, provocative television series that could truly have explored Lovecraft's darker elements on the screen in a visceral, creepy way.