Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 16th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: Various
Directors: Ricardo Harrington (Chilean Gothic), Giovanni Furore (Pickman’s Model), Cathy Welch (Pickman’s Model), Geoffrey Clark (In the Vault), Djie Han Thung (Between the Stars)
Cast: Rodrigo Sepúlveda, Luis Alarcón, Fernando Gallardo, Cristián Campos, Gilberto Villarroel, Lorenzo Mori, Vittorio De Stefano, Alessandro Di Lorenzo, Eva Chiorazzo, Mac Williams, Marc Mahan, Nancy Griffith, Virginia Houston. Martin Boozer, Jos Urbanus, Dick Tuinder, Jolanda Mulder, Frans Wamlink
DVD released: April, 2007
Approximate running times: Chilean Gothic – 43 minutes / Pickman’s Model – 33 Minutes / Pickman’s Model – 32 Minutes / In the Vault – 6 Minutes / Between the Stars – 6 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: Chilean Gothic, Pickman’s Model (Giovanni Furore’s Version), In the Vault, Between the Stars – Widescreen Letterbox / Pickman’s Model (Cathy Welch’s Version) - 1.33:1 Full-Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Lurker Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
I first became aware of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft about fifteen years ago. I had never been one who liked to read on a regular basis and yet there was something in his work that grabbed a hold of me immediately. Lovecraft quickly became an addiction as I spent my every waking hours reading and then searching out for more of his weird tales. After I finished reading every one of his tales I still felt a void and wanted more of the same so I sought out other authors who wrote Lovecraft like mythos.
It was around this time that I also discovered that many of his writings had been adapted into movies or where basis for television episodes of series like Night Gallery. One thing about television or movie adaptations of Lovecraft’s writings that has always been their weakness is that many of these people who are making them are only using the stories basic structure/idea and not getting to the core what makes these tales so brilliant. In many ways their greatest flaw is that they try to show us the evil Lovecraft only vaguely hints at in his stories and this is the essence of his genius, less is more.
This collection of shorts from Lurker Films includes some of the better adaptations of Lovecraft that they have released to date. The three main and lengthiest shorts are all based on Lovecraft’s tale “Pickman’s Model” which is a story about an eccentric artist whose paintings are lifelike and look almost too real.
Chilean Gothic: Director Ricardo Harrington does a solid job keeping most of the violence and what images are on the paintings vague enough to let you imagination run wild. The performances are all very good and there is rarely a dull moment. The locations used for this short all perfectly suit the story and help create the forbidding mood. Overall Chilean Gothic is a good example of how staying as close to the source material as possible actually makes for a more frightening film.
Pickman’s Model (Giovanni Furore’s Version): This is an interesting adaptation of Pickman’s Model with my only complaints being that the look and feel of the film is more like a Italian horror film then a Lovecraft inspired film. This is the most graphic of the shorts and little if anything is left to ones imagination. The pacing is well done and the acting is more then adequate. Overall horror films may enjoy this one more then diehard Lovecraft fans
Pickman’s Model (Cathy Welch’s Version): This is yet another adaptation of Pickman’s Model and I would have to say that the third time is a charm as this version is without a doubt the best of the lot. This short is shot is gorgeous Black & White and the direction is inspired at times. Lovecraft works so much better in Black & White then color as it allows the story and performances to be the focus of the viewer. This short could easily have been an episode of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Overall this short is the most polished of the lot and my favorite included with this collection.
In the Vault: This short is a brief 3-D animation about a lazy gravedigger who gets trapped in his vault where he makes his coffins one day. The animation in this short at times looks crude and not as polished as other 3-D animations that I have seen. This also may be because of this shorts limited budget. The way the story unfolds and the narrations are the best parts of this short. Overall In the Vault is an interesting and yet to brief short that retains most of what makes the original story work so well.
Between the Stars: This short is only loosely based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. It is a story about a lonely man who stares as the stars in the sky above each night. It is beautifully shot in Black & White and the minimal dialog also helps further driving home the lead characters isolation. Overall Between the Stars does a remarkable job of creating a Lovecraft like tale without sourcing one of his weird tales.
All the shorts included in this collection are presented in their original aspect ratios. The transfer for Chilean Gothic looks pretty good overall. There is some minor instances print damage and softness in detail which is most likely due to the source material. The transfer Giovanni Furore’s version of Pickman’s Model looks colorful, sharp and free of any noticeable print damage. The transfer Cathy Welch’s Version of Pickman’s Model looks remarkable and it is the best looking transfer included in this collection. This short was shot in Black & White and shadow detail and contrast both look solid. The transfer for In the Vault is nearly flawless and this short is the only 3-D animation included in this collection. The transfer for Between the Stars is free of any print damage and looks sharp though out. The Black & White image exhibits solid black levels and shadow detail.
All the shorts included in this collection are presented in a Dolby Digital Stereo. Pickman’s Model (Cathy Welch’s Version) & In the Vault are in English while the following shorts in their native languages Chilean Gothic (Spanish), Pickman’s Model Giovanni Furore’s version (Italian) & Between the Stars (Dutch). All the audio are clean and free of any distortion or any other audio defects. Dialog is clear and easy to understand. Removable English subtitles have been included on the shorts that where not shot in English.
Extras for this collection include two H.P. Lovecraft Film festival spots with Ramsey Campbell & Robert M. Price, a slide show with 31 stills for Chilean Gothic, and a ten minute interview with Ramsey Campbell & Robert M. Price who give their thoughts on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Rounding out the extras is an eight page booklet which includes essays by Ramsey Campbell, Andrew Migliore, John Strysik, Cathy Welch, Geoff Clark and Robert M. Price. These essays discuss not only the writings of H.P. Lovecraft they also discuss in depth some of the shorts include with this collection.
The H.P. Lovecraft Collection Volume 4: Pickman’s Model is another satisfying release from lurker films that not only comes with several excellent shorts it also comes with a handful of insightful extras that give greater depth into the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, highly recommended.
For more information about The H.P. Lovecraft Collection Volume 4: Pickman’s Model visit Lurker Films here.