By Scott A. Cupp
This is the 137th my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films
With this being the Halloween season, it is only appropriate that I review some horror-type films fir the next several weeks.
My friends Willie and Chuck brought this one to my attention. A German adaptation of The Color Out of Space based on the Lovecraft story of the same name. I do love the work of Lovecraft, as shown in more than a few columns of the Forgotten Books and Forgotten Films over the last six years or so. So when they expressed their pleasure in it, I checked up on it from Amazon and found that there was a Blu-Ray for a reasonable price and that it was limited to 1,000 copies. Sold!
When I first went to watch it, my Blu-Ray player seized up with the disc inside and would not respond. I tried the normal things – new batteries, manually hitting the control buttons on the machine, everything, and the disk remained stuck and the player was inert.
So, being the person that I am, I bought a new Blu-Ray player and set it up.
As I removed the old one, I looked for various ways to retrieve my unplayed disc but to no avail. As a last ditch effort, I plugged the player into another circuit. Suddenly, I saw the flickering of a power light. I punched the manual controls and out popped the tray. I grabbed the remote with its new batteries and the machine responded. Now I had two Blu-Ray players. I could not return the new one as I had pretty well destroyed the box opening it. So the old one went upstairs to reside next to the DVD/VCR combo in the guest bedroom. Another problem solved.
Last night, I watched this film. I had vague memories of the earlier version — Die, Monster, Die with Boris Karloff and Nick Adams — which I saw many years ago. I checked my movie listing and I do not appear to have a copy of that one. I know I have The Dunwich Horror and that one may show up soon.
This one was quite fun. It’s done in glorious black and white (mostly), and it’s set in three different timelines. The story starts with Jonathan Davis (Ingo Heise) returning to Arkham College to discuss the disappearance of his father with Mr. Danforth (Olaf Kratke), a librarian in the Forbidden Books area. The elder Davis had unexpectedly gone off to Germany a few weeks earlier and had not been heard from.
Jonathan heads over to the Swabian-Franconian Forest area of Germany to try to find his dad. He enquires at a pub and finds Armin Peirske (Michael Kausch) who did not recognize the father from the current pictures but did from his time in the war.
So we shift to the period at the end of World War II where the elder Davis (Ralf Lichtenberg) is a doctor looking to relocate people displaced by the war. Armin is returning wounded from the war to his farm when he encounters Davis. Davis asks him about the area, particularly the neighboring valley. Armin tells Davis not to go over there.
No one lives there. Anymore.
Now we shift to Armin’s tale from prior to the war when a meteorite has landed in that valley on the farm of Nahum Gärtener (Erik Rastetter), who has a small farm and orchard that he runs with his wife and three sons. Scientists come to examine the meteorite, which has some very strange properties and keeps shrinking. Testing does not determine its origins, so the scientists return and find a small opening in the fragment. They crack it open and something happens. There is a release and suddenly the fragment disappears.
Then strange things begin to happen. Giant pears begin to grow in the orchards but the fruit tastes spoiled. Frau Gärtener (Marah Schneider) sees something and goes very slowly insane. Things happen to the boys.
I’m not going to delve too much deeper here. You should see this film for yourself. It’s one of the best Lovecraftian films ever made. I can easily compare it to The Call of Cthulhu that I reviewed some time ago which was excellent.
The film is dual language – parts of it are in English but most of it is in German — so you will have to read your film. But, if you’ve read Lovecraft, you can easily read a film.
I’m not sure if it’s on Netflix or one of the other services. Amazon has it on its Amazon video and the Blu-Ray is still available for under $20.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.