The H.P. Lovecraft Collection, Vol. 3: Out of Mind
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The third volume in the H.P. Lovecraft Collection contains some of our favorite Lovecraft inspired films. The sublime Out of Mind seamlessly melds a stealth Lovecraft documentary using dialog based on his numerous personal corespondence, and story fragments from his mythos woven into a single fascinating tapestry. The film also introduces us to Lovecraft the person (through the brilliant characterization by Christopher Heyerdahl). There are lots of in-jokes and references to all things Lovecraftian for the astute fan. Even some iridescent protoplasma shows up but the filmmakers wisely keep their on-screen time very short, hinting at them rather then attempting to gross anyone out. The plot revolves around a modern day artist, Charles Dexter Ward, who inherits a copy of the Necronomicon that casues a series of nightmare excursions into his familial past and to the dream world meeting with Lovecraft himself. The volume also includes John Strysik's The Music of Erich Zann (now with the new 5.1 dolby surround sound mix) and Aaron Vanek's The Outsider & My Necronomicon.
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This fantastic DVD also includes bonus features, including: an amazing cinematic rendition of "The Music of Erich Zann" by John Strysik; Aaron Vanek's superb shorts "The Outsider" and "Necronomicon;" an interview with the world's leading Lovecraft scholar and editor, S. T. Joshi ; two audio commentaries on OUT OF MIND with star Heyerdahl and director Raymond Saint-Jean; and a delightful eight page booklet on H. P. Lovecraft and the films contained in this DVD. This is a must-have for all Lovecraftians and fans of ye Cthulhu Mythos!!
"Out of mind" deals with dreams and reality, life and art, fictional characters meeting their author, in a surprisingly subtle, intelligent and unprecedented way (at least as far as Lovecraft is concerned). Some sequences are really worth of their literary model, even if the movie can't be considered a real adaptation of any of Lovecraft's tales. Seeing the magnificent Heyerdahl playing (somehow "being") Lovecraft, speaking his own words and in his own accent, always leaves me happily amazed. The final sequence is particularly unforgettable and, in a very peculiar way, touching, especially if one, like me, spent some minutes in front of the real grave of Mr. Lovecraft in Providence, RI.
As always in Lurker Films, the dvd is rich in other short movies (John Strysik's "The Music of Erich Zann", a kind of classic in the genre, would deserve another review...), audio comments (two comments for "Out of mind"!), trailers, etc., not to say the most interesting interview with S.T. Joshi. "The Call of Cthulhu" trailer is specially beautiful and funny. By the way, in the useful and well-written booklet of the dvd you find the name Cthulhu written "Cthuhlu": it's not a problem, but maybe in future editions this little mistake could be corrected.
Luca C. Foffano (Milan, Italy)
The title feature, although interesting, did not quite work for me. First, the multilayered "story within a story within a story" theme is very difficult to pull off on the screen. Indeed, it is not exactly easy on the printed page. Here, I was mostly confused.
Second, the idea of putting Lovecraft himself into the story is an interesting one and Christopher Heyerdahl's portrayal is quite gripping but again it just didn't seem true to Lovecraft. Lovecraft wasn't some sort of mystic who believed the kind of stuff he wrote about but a hard headed skeptic. It's true that many of Lovecraft's characters (like Randolf Carter) had a lot of Lovecraft in them but you can't make too much of that.
Third, the story just didn't seem to go anywhere; there just wasn't much of a payoff. Loose ends abounded and too much was left to the viewers imagination. What was in that note to Armitage? What happened to Angell after following Blake/Warren into the tomb? Was Blake really killed in the present?
The shorter features were somewhat better. "The Music of Erich Zann" is quite good; it captures Lovecraft's story perfectly. "The Outsider" is basically unfilmable as the short feature pretty much demonstrates but not without merit. "My Necronomicon" is essentially a you tube video way before its time.
The extras are interesting, especially the S. T. Joshi interview.
All in all, an interesting way to spend a couple of hours if one is a Lovecraft fan but I couldn't recommend this to anyone else.
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