Director: Huan Vu
Cast: Paul Dorsch, Jürgen Heimüller, Ingo Heise
Just in case you don’t “Sprechen sie Deutsche”, the title of this independent, feature length film translates into THE COLOUR. Can you guess what HPL story it is based on? That’s right, it’s “The Outsider.” Ha, just kidding, I’m talking about Lovecraft’s personal favorite of all his own stories; “The Colour Out Of Space.” You know, the most filmed of any of H.P. Lovecraft’s tales. What, you don’t believe that? Well there was 1965’s DIE MONSTER DIE staring Boris “don’t call me Frankenstein” Karloff. 1987 saw another telling of this tale called THE CURSE staring Wil “don’t call me Wesley” Wheaton. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. Last year we got an Italian version called COLOUR FROM THE DARK and now we get this German import. So how does this new film compare to all those other Colour flicks?
Simply put, it blows them all away.
To be sure, some of those other films had their bright spots, even the pretty crappy Wil Wheaton one had a few good moments. Further, I enjoyed COLOUR FROM THE DARK quite a lot, but this is easily the most faithful adaption of Lovecraft’s “Colour” ever put to film. In fact, it’s one of the best Lovecraftian films ever made, period. Writer/director Huan Vu transferred the story almost scene for scene from HPL’s original to the screen. For all the people who say Lovecraft doesn’t translate well into film, they need to sit down, shut up, and watch how it can be done right.
But before we really get into it, a quick warning; about 75% of this movie is in German with subtitles. No surprise there, since it was made in Germany, but some people don’t like to read when they watch movies so I thought I’d give them fair warning. The actual surprising thing about that was just how much of this film this was English. Why was there English in a German flick?
Well one of the few ways this movie deviates from the original story is setting and time. Here we get a young American named Jonathan who goes looking for his missing father who was last seen in Germany as an army medic after World War Two. Traveling to the small, wooded farming community where his dad disappeared, Jonathan meets an old farmer who witnessed the slow destruction of his friends and neighbors, a family called the Gardners, or in this case the Gärteners. He also has a tale to tell about Jonathan’s long lost father.
What follows next is a pretty much a word for word retelling of HPL’s tale of a cosmic entity coming to earth inside a strange meteor. The extraterrestrial rock comes down near the Gärteners’ farm and an alien life form, which only can be described as an indescribable color, permeates a farmstead causing untold weirdness to happen over the course of a year. Yes, no quick wham-bam scares here; this is creeping, inescapable dread at its finest. Vegetables grow huge but are rotten, trees sway when there is no wind, and one by one the Gärteners begin to feel the direct effects of the vile colour. The family members go mad, they feel sick, and then…well I won’t tell you what happens next, but if you’ve read the story then know, and this movie does a great job of showing the final horrors that befalls the blighted farmers.
The whole film is well photographed in black and white. The special effects range from passable to very good, as does the acting, and the direction is more than competent. That is not to say this movie is completely without foibles. Some of the German actors playing Americans don’t hide their accent well, and there was so obviously shot in front of a green screen that it was painful. Now the backdrop wasn’t some strange alien vista and thus needed technical wizardry to pull it off. No, it was a library. Now that was because after the real World War Two, Germany is in short supply of old-timey-looking libraries, so I understand the need for the green-screening, I just wish it wasn’t so noticeable. Or they could have set the scene somewhere else. Thankfully the rest of the movie is shot on real sets, or if they are not, the special effects are handled much better so as not to be so glaring. However such things like accents and bad CGI backdrops are minor complaints really. If that’s all I can point to as faults with this film then that says volumes for its overall quality.
DIE FARBE is an exceptionally Lovecraftian film and a cinematic treat for both mythos fans and those new to the cosmic horror of HPL. I cannot recommend this film high enough. I urge you to get this movie, not only because it’s a great film, but also to support independent filmmakers who dare to bring Lovecraft’s horror to the movie masses. Luckily you can easily order a copy from the cultists over at H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.