aka THE COLOUR OUT OF SPACE
Reviewed by Sandy Petersen
Mike Davis was good enough to put me onto the existence of this film. I had sort of heard about it, but had dismissed it, pretty much because after seeing Die, Monster, Die, and The Curse I had decided I was done with Colour Out of Space knock-offs. Heck, they’re as bad as the Lurking Fear knock-offs.
Well I was thrilled to see Die Farbe for two reasons. First, my ego was tremendously flattered by the fact that the film-makers were clearly influenced by HPLHS’s movies – The Call of Cthulhu and The Whisperer in Darkness (the latter of which features me as an Executive Producer). I hasten to add that I had no, and sought no, creative input to The Whisperer in Darkness – its fine qualities owe nothing to me but some funding. Still I look upon it with avuncular pride.
Anyway, Die Farbe was done in black and white, and it is a period piece. It takes place in three times – 1975, sometime in the 1930s, and then 1945. The film-makers moved the action to Germany, and they reference World War II. I think it is well worth seeing for any Lovecraft fan. The clever touch they achieved was that the only color in the movie is THE Colour, if you get my meaning, but even here they are very subtle. The first few times the Colour shows up it is very pale, and easy to miss or (more likely) to leave you uncertain you saw anything.
WHY DIE FARBE RULES
The movie doesn’t follow the retarded Hollywood 3-act plot sequence (apparently they teach it in school nowadays. Ecch.). Instead, the movie simply builds up a more and more ominous mood until finally the horrors come to fruition.
The film ALSO doesn’t follow the execrable trope of trying to explain everything either before or after the fact. It just lets the events happen, and remain inexplicable. Of course, this leads to the more spoon-fed people (such as one commentater on the IMDb) to be confused. But I loved it. After all the whole point to the Colour is that we cannot understand it – it is an entity so alien that the only way it can interact with us is to feed.
The sets and cinematography was excellent, in my opinion. The actors were decent, if not world-beaters. Sometimes the film is a little slow, but that is the nature of a mood-piece. I am certainly never bored watching it.
WHY DIE FARBE DROOLS
Well, it doesn’t really drool. But it has a couple of minor weaknesses. The lesser of the two is the fact that the supposedly all-American hero speaks English with a strong German accent. I sympathize with the film-makers. Given that he was the guy they wanted, they were stuck with his non-American nature I guess.
My other problem with the movie is a little more systemic. Near the end of the film, we see an assortment of flashbacks which seem to switch the roles of two of the actors, which seem to indicate that one of the characters got mixed up as to who was who. My problem is that this doesn’t seem to add anything to the narrative. It doesn’t make the tale more ominous or change the results.
I don’t mind a switcheroo at the end of a film – for instance, I just recently re-watched Saw III and rather enjoyed the series of surprises it finishes with. But this part of the ending sequence in Die Farbe just seems kind of pointless. Like they are trying to give us an “Oh Wow” surprise, but there wasn’t a surprise to be had there. It is puzzling.
I still liked the show though. That minor false step didn’t ruin it. Check it out.