June 25, 2006
The collection starts off strongly with The Shunned House, a 2003 straight-to-video offering from Italy. Two word review: Kicks. Ass. The story takes it's name from a tale by H.P. Lovecraft, and the actual plot is an amalgam of three Lovecraft stories: the title piece, The Music of Erich Zann (although the Erich character is a woman in the movie) and Dreams in the Witch House.
I've said it before: I adore Lovecraft. I have a fairly complete collection of his works. When I go on a Lovecraft binge, it perceptably darkens my mood. Powerful writing.
The director here concentrated on mood and atmosphere. There is quite a bit of gore, but not enough to squick me out (well, except for one horrendously memorable scene that will forever be in my all-time top 10 greatest movie scenes). Instead of telling the three stories in serial one-after-another fashion, the stories intertwine and interelate and are sometimes opaque and confusing, much like Lovecraft's work itself. Yet also like Lovecraft, the imagery is original and chilling. These are not terribly faithful story adaptations, but they remain true to the spirit of the originals.
An occult researcher and his girlfriend/photographer visit an old building where mysterious happenings have been going on for over one hundred years. The researcher has an extensive collection of old writings and documents related to the place, including photographs of some of the victims. The girlfriend thinks that they're there to investigate three mysterious deaths, and they are, but she freaks out when she finds out that there have been hundreds of odd suicides and murders done over time. This story is used as the framework to tie the other two plotlines together, even though the three original stories are completely unrelated to each other.
From what I've read, this film was shot entirely on location inside the actual building, complete with attached chapel. I've seen nothing to indicate that the building is other than ordinary in real life.
If you can handle the gore (and the heavy Italian accents), I can't recommend this one highly enough. Fair warning though, you're going to absolutely love it or absolutely hate it.
The second film that I'm going to talk about is an indie titled The Somnambulists (sorry, no link available). According to the box, it's 75 minutes long, and I was rather ticked off to find that the total time includes a "making of" special and *two* "premier night" features. The film itself is rather short, yet very intense.
Dialogue is sparse, and the acting is above average (with a couple of glaring exceptions). It all comes together nicely in the end, including a semi-surprise ending.
Granddad winds up with the best lines, including one chilling little exchange where he explains that "there is no heaven, there is no hell. The dead go into our dreams, and it's the ones with a grudge that you have to watch out for."
Posted by: Zoe Brain at June 26, 2006 02:50 AM (CI+WK)
that's going to haunt me for a little while yet.
i just read a post by a sydney girl who had a visitation from a dead school friend, in her dreams...
it was a friendly visit, though. no grudges, i don't think.
Posted by: wegglywoo at June 26, 2006 08:34 AM (gdUC/)
Wegg, that line is going to stick with me for a while too. Very eerie, and powerfully delivered.
Posted by: Ted at June 27, 2006 04:55 AM (blNMI)
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