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Showing 1-10 of 89 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 122 reviews
on March 6, 2012
It is a strange tradition that indie filmmakers with shoestring budgets inevitably want to make science fiction films. One has trouble discerning why; dramas and comedies are far cheaper and period pieces are just as exotic without the need for special effects. Yet the small film maker continues to pound out high-concept science fiction films regardless of their obvious limitations in this regard.

Then sometimes one of them knocks it out of the park.

The HPLHS already struck gold with Call of Cthulhu, a tremendously faithful 30s expressionist film based on the short story of the same name. With Whisperer they attempt to give a similar treatment to a more narrative Lovecraft story, this time in the trappings of a 1940s talkie. Success in this area is mixed- the feel starts off on target but quickly migrates to the atmosphere of a 60s creature feature... Not that there is anything wrong with that. If anything gives away the film's truly modern nature it is that the photography is a little too clean- again not a problem, and it left me wishing this movie was available on BD as well. The soundtrack is tremendously well done and moody, just like in Call.

Without giving too much away, Whisperer follows the short story faithfully until the end at which point it concludes with an action setpiece not present in the original plot. As if by way of apology, the new ending is actually much more grim than the original, placing the protagonist in a much dimmer situation.

Just as with Call of Cthulhu, the effects here are far better than the film's small scale would suggest. The alien Mi-go in particular are a wonderfully steampunk mashup of creature and clockwork, realized with a very effective mix of models, costuming and CG. Locations are beautifully shot, and the actors fairly douse the production in character- in particular Daniel Kaemon, who plays the cult leader Mr. Noyse, lapses into a fantastic Mid-Atlantic radio presenter accent when he is (unknowingly?) recorded during his dark rituals- it sounds like it should be corny, yet it is eerily effective.

Purists may gape at the liberties taken with the source material, but this is a fantastically solid sci-fi horror flick that is true to the spirit of its source material and for my money far outstrips Lovecraft films with much costlier productions. A must buy if you enjoyed Call, or if you are a fan of old-school horror literature and cinema. This movie proves that epic sci-fi is possible in a small-scale production, and one is left wondering how so many other filmmakers drop the ball.

NOTE: buy with confidence, packaging and shipping are prompt and thorough. Even the invoice that comes with this movie is fun.
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on March 16, 2014
Whisper in Darkness is a great Horror/Scifi Hybrid short story. This adaption was made by, what's essentially a larping community, it's a fan film and a labor of love and I have the highest opinion of it as such. The quality is astonishing considering that it's a fan film with almost no budget, and a far better adaptation of Lovecraft's material than any mainstream or direct to video release I've ever seen (save their other adaptation, the excellent 2005 Call of Cthulthu film). Seriously, this film is working off an extremely small budget, and what they get for it is great.

That's not to say it won't appeal to outsiders. If you like 50's style Scifi it's right in the sweet spot. The only weak point is the monster design (which I'm not nuts about) but they did a perfectly fine job and it all fits in with the mood of the piece. Whisperer feels like a 50's style scifi monster movie, partially because the story it's based on laid the groundwork for that genre. There is some genuine suspense and plenty of atmosphere, as well as a few genuinely sad moments that surprised me. It could have been campy, but the film delivers.

This is a great example of how love and commitment can create great work that others have written off as unfilmable. The truth is Lovecraft isn't un-filmable, it just can't be achieved if you're trying to please a slasher film demographic as well as a Wierd Fiction one (although I know plenty of people who like both) and do so using only the rudimentary echoes of the original stories.

So yes I recommend it, over any Lovecraft adaptation that calls itself such. I will purchase the title if only to encourage them to make more!
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on March 26, 2014
Growing up, some of the best horror stories I read, the ones that stuck with me long after I had finished the books, were the ones by Lovecraft. He stirred my imagination and his stories were scary, actually scary. I had yet to see that make it's transition to the big screen, until now. Yes, there have been good adaptations, such as The Reanimator (Jeffrey Combs, you rock, you versatile Andorian, Question type guy!), but this is the first movie to bring the utter essence of horror that H. P. Lovecraft could convey to the screen. And I think filming this movie in black and white added to that as well. Like the good old movies of yesteryear (Them! Deadly Mantis, etc.) this movie is big on atmosphere, which so many "scary" movies today sadly lack. The Whisperer in Darkness draws you in and gets you interested as it gradually builds up speed, just like Lovecrafts' original stories all do. There is little gore because none is needed. This is a movie I will watch again and again because it is just that good. It is very crisp and clear on blu ray with excellent sound. As a 50 year old horror/sci-fi fan It takes a lot to impress me these days. This film, from these guys, impressed me more than most of the fodder churned out by the big companies. This was obviously a labor of love and it shows. Thanks guys, and I hope The Dunwich Horror is on your list of movies to make!
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on June 29, 2013
The film is wonderfully shot (as is demonstrated prior from the guys & gals at the hplhs with The Call of Cthulhu film) in the 1930's style from the time of Lovecraft.

The story is very faithful to the original material, much more so than other adaptions of Lovecraft's work and I was exceedingly pleased at this.

I've been a fan of their work ever since I started listening first to the H.P Lovecraft Literary Podcast over on iTunes and found out about the Society from there and the wonderful enthusiasm they bring to an author who really doesn't get appreciated enough by most people today. It's a great film even if you haven't read the source material. If you have however like me you'll most likely be very pleased you watched it as it really is a great adaption (I would love to speak more about it but don't want to give anything away).

Thank you very much for another great film everyone. I look forward to the next one with anticipation.
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on April 20, 2015
A visionary screen adaptation of the classic weird tale by legendary horror writer HP Lovecraft. Following a series of floods in rural Vermont, the bodies of grotesque creatures are found floating in several rivers. The creatures match descriptions given in certain local myths and legends. University Folklorist Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer) is initially dismissive of the stories, until he starts to receive a series of increasingly disturbing letters from Vermont farmer, that hint at a horrifying truth. He travels to Vermont to investigate further, and uncovers a conspiracy that extends out into the furthest reaches of space and the darkest pits of hell.
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on April 21, 2017
I've watched several attempts at translating Lovecraft stories to screen. Others have been extremely disappointing, and this one is no exception. Did the producer even read Lovecraft's story?
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on April 8, 2012
If anyone ought to be able to turn out a decent, relatively faithful cinematic adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story, then it should be an outfit that calls itself the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society and that is precisely what they have done. In fact this is their second film effort following on the heels of 2005's THE CALL OF CTHULHU which was also a first class adaptation. What makes both of these films so remarkable is that they were done on what would today be considered shoestring budgets. It just goes to show what can be done with today's visual technology if you have the necessary skills and vision. A wise and extremely clever decision made by HPLHS was to film both movies as if they were shot in the years that Lovecraft wrote them (1927, 1931). That means that CTHULHU was shot as a modern day silent film (before THE ARTIST) and WHISPERER was shot as if it were an early Universal horror film.

THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS begins at Lovecraft's legendary Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts (shot at Mount Holyoke College) where we meet professor Albert Wilmarth (Matt Foyer), a skeptical folklore specialist who likes to use science to debunk old myths and legends. After a failed radio show attempt to triumph over a believer in the supernatural (Andrew Leman), he goes to an isolated farm in Vermont to speak with its owner (Barry Lynch) and discovers the type of cataclysmic horror that H. P. Lovecraft specialized in. Fans already know what it is but this review is primarily addressed to those readers who are not familiar with Lovecraft. The film is beautifully made from the opening parody of the old Universal logo (instead of a plane circling the globe it's a zeppelin that crosses over the North Pole) to the period costumes, the old school editing, and an extremely effective soundtrack. The performances by all concerned especially Foyer, Lynch and Autumn Wendel as the young girl Hannah (who is not in the original story) are all you could ask for in an undertaking of this nature. My only reservations, and they are minor ones, are as follows.

1) Every modern day attempt I have seen to shoot a black & white film set in the 1920s and 30's (and this includes THE ARTIST) is clearly shot in color first with the color then removed (HPLHS's MythoScope). This creates a sharp focus picture with harsh lighting instead of a soft focus one with subtle lighting although this was likely done out of budget considerations and is therefore understandable. 2) The rather cynical ending (not Lovecraft's own as the last third is an extension by the filmmakers) would not have occured in a film set in 1931. The tone yes (this would have been a pre-Code movie before censorship clamped down) but not the ending. From a visual standpoint, however, it is remarkably effective. 3) I would not have shown the creatures in close-up at the end as a lot of Lovecraft's horror deals with the human mind being unable to process what it sees and they didn't match my imagination's depictions of them. Unfortunately, subtlety and discretion are not trademarks of the 21st century.

I offer these observations as a film historian in a purely pedantic way out of a desire to provide some additional background on how films in the 1930s were made, not in an attempt to criticize the film or the filmmakers. I think THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS and its companion piece THE CALL OF CTHULHU to be minor masterpieces which are truly exceptional when you consider their budgetary limitations (check out the special features on Disc 2 for a true appreciation). I not only look forward to more cinematic endeavors from the HPLHS (so buy this DVD which is available on a made-to-order basis and help to finance their next project) but I wish that other low budget filmmakers as well as big budget ones who attempt to do H.P. Lovecraft would follow in their footsteps. They have proved conclusively that is possible to do cinematic adaptations which are faithful in spirit and execution to HPL's work.
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on August 11, 2016
Not as good as reading the story. Like most movie adaptations it starts out good but then is in a rush to finish. Although think it is better than any other movie adaptation of HP Lovecraft
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on December 5, 2013
HPLS hit a home-run with their 'Call of Cthulhu', by making it a silent movie. It made their use of silent-era effects and acting charming...and, added to the dreamlike effect of having your mind's view of a book come to life.

With 'Whisperer', they opted to make a sound homage to the Universal 'creature features' of the 1930's. Unfortunately, when you add sound, the increased verisimilitude makes it imperative that sure-handed direction, taut editing, a compelling script, decent effects and solid acting are all present. 'Whisperer in Darkness' misses to some degree on almost all of these...especially acting. Matt Foyer as Albert Wilmarth is the biggest problem here. His entire acting range is limited to mugging, while looking sour, pensive or frightened. In 'Cluthu', that worked very well, as those were the only emotions his character was supposed to register...and, silent movies call for exaggerated facial expressions. In a sound movie, subtle body language is key, along with coordinated use of voice and facial expressions.
Martin Wately as Walter Brown is another key offender...broadcasting his vile character's intentions with all the subtlety of Snidely Whiplash. The director shares blame for this, as it was his job to keep the performances of his actors in service to the overall tale. Its a shame, because most of the supporting cast does a terrific job with their characterizations.

The script works rather well for the first two acts...when they are following Lovecraft's original tale. However, the tacked-on third act suffers from having Wilmarth suddenly transform from a clueless dick, into Dick Tracy. Suddenly, he follows clues, makes discoveries, thwarts the villains...and, even knows how to fly a bi-plane! Other than the fact that none of it jibes with his character up to that point, its just dandy. In addition, a young girl is added to the story/script as a very weak deus ex machina, to shore up the poor writing...then, quickly killed off.
Oh, about that bi-plane flight: It added nothing whatsoever to the narrative...other then padding the film's running time; and, the opening credits of Mystery Science Theater 3000 can boast much better effects. The laugh-ability of the scene was exacerbated by flaccid editing; so, what should have been the script's highlight turned into yet another 'jumped shark'.
If I sound harsh, its because there was so much to admire and enjoy in the first two acts of 'Whisperer'. Even the off-key performances were tolerable in light of the spooky tale being well-told. However, the third act took what should have been a memorable new-old spookfest, and made it merely mediocre.
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on May 16, 2017
Highly enjoyable movie. It has quite the interesting twist at the end.
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