Based on one of the lesser known short stories of H.P. Lovecraft, Color Out of Space, directed by Richard Stanley and starring Nicolas Cage, is a well produced, modern adaptation. The story follows the Gardner family who has recently moved to the country side of Arkham Massachusetts (a town infamous in many Lovecraft works), escaping the big city. Nathan, the father (Cage), has taken up alpaca and crop farming on their land while his wife, Theresa, continues to work from home in a fast-paced, demanding job. The family is rounded out with the oldest son Benny, the daughter Lavinia and younger son Jack.
At the film's opening, the family appears to be living an ordinary life with perhaps the exception of Lavina who is a practicing Wiccan (or is that the "in thing" these days for teen girls?). It's hinted that some of her rituals are to ward of cancer that her mother is battling. Benny is presented as a typical teenager, dabbling in pot and clearly interested in outer space. The young boy Jack is a typical young boy, fascinated with dinosaurs and a bit of a "mommy's boy."
In the opening scene we are also introduced to Ward Phillips, a hydrologist sporting a Miskatonic University t-shirt (nice touch!) who walks up on Lavinia performing one of her rituals. After a brief introduction, he explains he is in the area to survey the land's water tables for research. Later that evening we see Nathan serve a questionable french casserole to his family for dinner while Theresa works in her home office, stationed in the farmhouse's attic, working tirelessly with clients over the phone.
That evening, a purple hue forms in the clear sky followed by a meteor that crashes into the Gardners' front yard. Each of the family members reacts differently upon its entry. Nathan and Theresa, having an intimate moment, do not notice the meteor's approach until impact. Benny, however, falls into a vegetative state, Jack becomes paralyzed in fear and Lavinia sleeps soundly.
Strange events soon follow as the meteor has brought something to earth with it. As the story unfolds, each family member (as well as Ezra, an off-the-grid squatter on the Gardner property) becomes affected in their own way. Lavinia finds herself physically ill, Benny is losing time and memory and Jack claims to communicate with "friends" near the meteor impact sight that no one else can see. As each day passes, the land and its inhabitants become more and more severely incapacitated. Wild flowers of unnatural neon pink and purple grow all over the land; crops grow large and plump but are ultimately rotten. Ward, the hydrologist, discovers that the meteor has begun to affect the water, therefore anything that consumes the water is ultimately adversely affected. By the end, the family suffers an incredible onslaught of physical and metal effects brought on by forces from another realm, which of course is the heart of Lovecraftian mythos.
I must say that the movie is quite unique. Although the "color" referenced in the story is to be somewhat indescribable, the movie utilizes bright and vivid pinks and purples that pop unnaturally in the rural setting. The ambiance wavers from beautiful to terrifying with surging intensity as the movie progresses from curious - to quite strange - to shockingly horrid (in a good way).
Through the first half of the movie, I found myself asking why Nicolas Cage was cast in this movie. His character could seemingly be played by just about anyone as Nathan Gardner is a typical husband and father trying to live a low-key life while taking care of his family. However, as the madness grows within him, that familiar Nicolas Cage "freakout" feels right in place. I'd also commend the performance by Madeleine Arthur who plays Lavinia. Her performance resonated the most, in my opinion throughout the movie. The effects the meteor has on her family are best felt through Lavinia as if we would be witnessing these events most closely from her perspective.
I REALLY liked this movie. It was produced well, had some great acting and just about all the effects were sharp and visually appealing. There's a brief view of the "other world" which didn't have as good of a production quality as the rest of the film, but it's fine - it was a very quick glimpse. Another detail I appreciated was that the first paragraph of the story is narrated at the beginning of the film and the second-to-last paragraph is narrated at the end. I thought this was a great way to recognize the brilliant origin of this story. I hope Color Out of Space is well received by a larger audience with the streaming / bluray release. There are rumors this could spawn a few more new Lovecraft films so the long-term success of this movie would help make that a certainty. Highly recommended!
And remember, Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
Shudder's Creepshow is awesome. It's one of the primary reasons I subscribe to Shudder. When it was reported the Tales from the Crypt reboot wasn't happening, Creepshow was a welcome replacement. Since it's on a streaming service, no punches are pulled on this anthology horror show, living up to expectations set by the classic movie and follow up graphic novel. The effects and production quality are top notch and there are a number of familiar faces featured in various episodes. Ok, so they're not A-listers but there are some classic horror icons involved and some of the episodes are adaptations from stories by Stephen King and Joe Hill.
But what's that? You don't subscribe to Shudder? Well good news - while it seems as if no one watches The Walking Dead anymore, we can all admit we used to when it was good so odds are you still have access to AMC. The network plans to air the first season of Creepshow prior to the premier of season two on Shudder. It shouldn't be all that surprising. AMC owns Shudder so no doubt they're hoping you'll get hooked and fork out more money for Shudder to keep on watching the new episodes. If you're really patient (or cheap...or tight on cash), maybe you'll see season 2 on AMC at some point. No date has been announced for Creepshow season one on AMC or season two on Shudder.
Outer space is one of the best settings for a horror movie. Think about it. It's isolating, every elemental factor is against you. You have limited resources. You're pretty much F'd.
So let's take a look at some movies that either take place in space, on another planet or involve ETs coming to Earth to wreak havoc.
#10 -Invaders From Mars
I'd consider this one of those good intro horror movies for kids. It's a fairly simple plot and has some decent and humorous effects. It's also a Tobe Hooper movie so there's a plus right there. It's about a kid who sees a UFO land over a hill and suddenly people he knows start to act differently. As he suspects, they're all under some kind of mind control and the only person he can trust is the school nurse played by Karen Black. This film has some of the most memorable alien visuals I've carried in my mind since I was a kid.
#9 - Cloverfield
Even at the time of its release, found footage movies were nothing new. However, Matt Reeves and JJ Abrams were able to capture the level of panic and chaos that a big alien running around a city Godzilla-style would probably produce. It was also a successful attempt to work in an actual backstory of the characters without spoon feeding it to us. As if a big destructive alien wasn't enough, the true horror was shown with the gestational cycle of the parasite aliens. Poor Lizzy Caplan.
#8 - Starship Troopers
Ok yes -it's more of a sci-fi action movie but let's face it. Even by today's standards, the CGI is damn good. Why put this on a horror list? GORE! The appearance of the arachnid aliens isn't all that terrifying, but holy hell - those things are waking machetes. There's all kinds of slicing and dicing going on. If there's anything to appreciate about this movie, it's that it didn't hold back on much. Well. Maybe some of the acting.
#7 - They Live
Another John Carpenter masterpiece! "Rowdy" Roddy Piper falls into a discovery that reveals we are being subconsciously controlled by an alien race in cahoots with world government. Yeah you probably just heard someone shouting about this on the street corner last Tuesday, but what made this movie memorable were those super generic, magic sunglasses which lifted the veil and revealed the true world around us - and the hideous beings among us.
#6 - Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Cult Classic. Period. The Chiodo brothers got everything right with this one. If there was going to be an alien race that just happened to look like mutated clowns, then everything should follow suit. Cotton candy cocoons. Check. Circus tent spaceship. Check. Clown monster seeds in the form of popcorn. Check. Face-melting pies. Check. John Vernon as the asshole police sergeant -turned ventriloquist dummy. Check. For its theme, KKFOS really is perfect and I'll argue all day long that those are the freakiest looking clowns ever. I first saw this movie when I was 8 and have seen it 50+ times. I'm good for another 50.
#5 - Predator
I was on the fence about including this because it really is more of an action movie with an alien, but there's no denying that the Predator is a talented killing machine. Granted, a lot of that talent is heavily reliant on gadgetry but hey, it worked. However, finding skinned corpses in the middle of the jungle is just the tip of the iceberg of the gory kills in this movie. Severed limbs, exploding heads - yeah I think it qualifies for this list. Plus, we got the forever quotable, "Get to the choppa!" line.
#4 - Aliens
What's better than one alien? A shit load of them with an egg-laying queen. That's what we got with James Cameron's Alien sequel which teamed Ellen Ripley up with a group of Marines to seek out what happened to a colony gone dark. Aside from being one of Bill Paxton's best performances (we miss you!), this movie greatly expanded the xenomorph canon. While it certainly traded some suspense for fire-powered action, it still stands up today as being one hell of a movie all the way around. As if there was any doubt, it also re-certified that Sigourney Weaver is a bad ass.
#3 - Event Horizon
What if a spacecraft actually passed through hell while going through a black hole? Well...you'd get the material for this movie. A rescue crew is sent to investigate the return of the Even Horizon after it went missing. Shortly after arriving, it becomes clear something sinister has happened. The scenes of course that are forever burned in our memories are the footage found from the ships logs. While the scenes are frustratingly short, they are vividly brutal and truly look like hell in a Clive Barker kind of way. There is no happy ending to the movie and the fact that it takes place isolated in space only adds to the eeriness of it.
#2 - The Thing
Unquestionably one of John Carpenters top 3 movies, The Thing is a fantastic adaptation of the novella "Who Goes there?". Every quality element of a horror movie is present - isolation, paranoia, harsh elements and of course, grotesque effects. In an era preceding CGI, The Thing was a prime demonstration of effective, eye-catching practical effects. Several scenes containing these effects are easily recognizable at first sight. This is indeed a true horror classic.
#1 - Alien
Speaking of quality elements of horror movies, Alien reins supreme. Alien was ranked number one because it gave us a double dose of terror - not only with one of the most iconic horror monsters of all time, the xenomorph (which had been described as "the perfect killing machine"), but also the immense suspense this movie effectively drew out. All of us at some point towards the end were thinking, "Forget the damn cat! Get the hell out of there!"
The dark, dingy decks of the USCSS Nostromo were the perfect backdrop for such a lethal predator to hide in - chock full of uplighting, steel grates, wires and vent shafts. The parasitic means of which xenomorphs are born was nightmare fuel just by itself. Most of all, the imagery of HR Giger's unparalleled, bio-mechanical art brought to life on screen made everything about the alien and its (hinted at) origins more other-worldly than anything I've ever seen - still to this day!
What movies do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
We hope to get more involved with the haunt and horror fan community this year and one approach is give more cool stuff away.
So - first up. This decorative tin sign for the original Halloween movie!
The giveaway will be raffle style - the more entries you have, the better the chances that you'll win it. You'll notice you get 5 entries for commenting on our post asking what your favorite movie is. We hope to get a lot of interactions going on the site so consider this a kicking off point. Have at it!
CLICK HERE TO ENTER NOW!
First, a shout out to Grady Hendrix for bringing a spotlight back to the arguably otherwise-forgotten archives of horror novels of the past few decades. If you haven't already, I highly recommend subscribing to his Paperbacks From Hell newsletter (named after his incredible reference book of the same subject matter).
We talk a lot about movies on this site, but books have a special place in any horror fan's collection. After all, many of our favorite movies originated from books or short stories. Here's a few coming out this year that I'm looking forward to.
Rumors of a third Gremlins movie have been circulating for years. Apparently finding a suitable plot to follow Gremlins 2 was somewhat of a challenge, tied up by debates on how interested the general public would be. Fortunately for Gizmo fans, a plan has come to fruition.
"Secrets of the Mogwai" will be a prequel going back a full century to China and will tell the story of how Sam Wing, the curiosities shop owner first shown in Gremlins, came to meet Gizmo.
Before we all begin debating whether CGI will be utilized over practical effects, go in knowing that this will be a 10-episode animated series. As original Gremlin's director, Joe Dante, stated, "...if you tried to shoot it as a theatrical film, it would be outrageously expensive. But in animation, you kind of get away with almost anything you can think of."
It sounds like the show will have a vibe closer to the original movie than the campy slapstick approach that the sequel offered.
"Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai" is being developed for HBO Max, which is to be a stand alone streaming app for HBO content. The service launches this May, but Secrets of the Mogwai will not likely air until 2021.
Full interview with Joe Dante available on Daily Dead.
We want to get to know you all...and what better way to start than telling us what your favorite movie is. Post in the comments below!
No, this isn't a post about Scientology (though it might as well be). Movies about cults are a pretty creepy sub-genre of horror because of how close to reality they can be.
We're all familiar with the Manson Family, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians or Jim Jones and the People's Temple. It's all in the history books for eternity. If you haven't seen them, here are some movies inspired by these real events.
Check out some other cult movie suggestions on ScreenRant.