The H.P. Lovecraft Collection, Vol. 1: Cool Air
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The H.P. Lovecraft Collection on DVD brings together for the first time films screened over the last 10 years at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. The first volume is Cool Air, based on Lovecraft's famous short story, and follows Randolph Carter as he moves into a squalid boarding house in the summer of 1925. There he becomes friends with a mysterious doctor who revives him after a near-fatal heart attack. Soon after Carter discovers the awful truth about the doctor, and the fragile line that separates life and death. Cool Air features a stellar performance by Jack Donner (Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Stigmata) as Dr. Munoz, and remains a haunting reminder of the power of the human will. The volume also includes the following short films: Nyarlathotep, The Hound, An Imperfect Solution, and The Hapless Antiquarian, in addition to exclusive interviews with the cast & crew of Cool Air, and an interview with author and scholar S.T. Joshi.
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Was I ever wrong.
At the end of the movie I was in a state of near shock. I do not know how else to put it, really. There are only really three roles that get any real screen time in the movie - The Landlady, The Renter and Dr. Munoz - but each of the actors brings a wonderful feeling of being present in the film. In addition the way that this film was made helps to surrender your sense of disbelief - the scratchy film amd the odd noises heard in the sound track all help the viewer to surrender to the idea that this is in actuality a much older film than it really is.
I cannot recommend this film highly enough. If you are a fan of Lovecraft, then you should see this film as soon as you can. If you enjoy horror movies and can see horror beyond bucket fulls of gore, then this is a movie for you. On the other hand if you think "Friday the Thirteenth" or "Nightmare on Elm Street" are great horror movies, well, this may not be for you.
Unfortunitely I watched the other shorts on the disc. Maybe I should have watched them first, because after cool air they just look like what they are. Ameteur short films done using Adobe Premier with some very bad costumes and props.
In the end though, I have to say I'm happy I bought it. The shorts are at least good for a little bit of a laugh.
I do have to give the writer/producer/director/actor credit--he overcame some serious obstacles to make this film (full disclosure: I had also once obtained the rights to produce this as a student film--but I never did a damn thing with it!!)
Bryan Moore does a very admirable job. It's definitely an independent production, and a labor of love. Add at least one point if you're a Lovecraft fan, add two points in you had ever obtained the rights to make the film yourself.
Moves slow at times (it IS Lovecraft--except for Reanimator, when did ANY Lovecraft film ever move quickly?), but Jack Donner's performance can be absolutely riveting.
The "reveal" at the end is minimal--I've always felt that the audience deserves a little more. But that's me.
And definitely spend the time with the special features. Two words: Dukey Flyswatter!! What is WITH that guy!?!
(Note: NOT a part of the Cthulhu mythos!)
Unfortunately, I was horribly disappointed. The cinematography involved filming (or editing) in black and white with a false grainy effect intending to give the movie a feel of age, which came off as cheap and hokey. In addition, there were numerous anachronisms blatantly presenting themselves on the set. When setting a movie in a particular era (in this case, the late 1920's or early 1930's), the devil's in the details. This crew paid no attention to such details (despite going through the "trouble" of making the film appear "old." (E.g., ill-fitting wardrobe, 1980's weather stripping on door frames, plywood signs, poor accent work, et cetera).
After sitting through this movie while feverishly smoking cigarettes to calm my nerves, I had planned on rating this amateur work as a "2." However, I made the mistake of viewing parts of the short films included with the main feature, which were filmed "live-action role play," at best. My evening plummeted further when I decided to watch the interviews with the cast and crew. Observing these fools foppishly discuss their goals and how great each one of them stands in his own mind, I added straight scotch to my diet. Their discussions of H. P. Lovecraft were completely ignorant, lacking in substance/understanding, and mockingly derisive at best. In my opinion, people with such little appreciation for such a great writer should steer clear of his work rather than displaying their idiocy to the rest of the world. Because of the disrespectful and egotistical crew, I offer but a single star.