Wednesday, October 17, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 17 - Movie

"Chilean Gothic" (2000) is a 44 minute film directed by Ricardo Harrington based on H.P. Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model." This is an effectively eerie film, with an excellent cast, wonderful cinematography and a truly effective use of sound and music. Lovecraft's story concerns the extremely disturbing paintings of Richard Upton Pickman, which feature scenes of horror and an unearthly subject. The secret behind Pickman's realistic depiction of his abomination, is that he uses a living model. Harrington wisely approaches this tale from the less is more standpoint in terms of what he shows on screen, and deviates quite a bit from Lovecraft's story while remaining very true to its spirit.

Additionally I watched two shorter adaptations of "Pickman's Model." The first, an Italian film, directed by Giovanni Furore was much truer to the source material, and also, wisely, left most of the horror to the viewer's imagination. This was also an excellent film with some nice performances. The only mistep was stepping away, unneccessarily, from the power of suggestion, and allowing the audience to take a lingering look at the mysterious model.

The second adaptation was Cathy Welch's American short film, which was the least successful of the three. The performances were generally good, though sometimes uneven, and Pickman's art was shown throughout and was not enough to make anyone queasy, and the model he used turned out to be a group of werewolves.

As if that weren't enough Lovecraft, I also took in the short film "Between the Stars" inspired by an unfinished work of Lovecraft's. Vague and experimental in nature, this film had the perfect lead, and was nicely filmed. The final short, a somewhat crudely computer animated adaptation of "In the Vault," was the weakest entry.

All of these films are contained in Lurker Films' "The H.P. Lovecraft Collection - volume 4: Pickman's Model." I haven't seen the previous 3 volumes, but if the quality is anything like this DVD collection, then they are must haves. This was some really nice stuff.

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