In this episode of The Popcorn Conspiracy Dave Griffiths and Kyle McGrath take a look at Color Out Of Space.
Summary: A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 6th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States, Malaysia, Portugal
Director: Richard Stanley
Screenwriter: Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris, H.P. Lovecraft (short story)
Cast: Madeleine Arthur (Lavinia), Nicolas Cage (Nathan Gardner), Tommy Chong (Ezra), Keith Harle (Hunter Jake), Julian Hilliard (Jack), Q’orianker Kilcher (Mayor Tooma), Elliott Knight (Ward), Brendan Meyer (Benny), Joely Richardson (Theresa), Josh C. Waller (Sheriff Pierce)
Running Time: 111 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia)
Dave Griffiths Review
Remember those old horror films that you and your friends used to sit around and watch on VHS? There is no doubt that you have seen many horror films over the past few years and walked out of the cinema wishing there was a way to flashback to that time. A time when filmmakers made horror movies because they believed in the genre and loved it, not just because a studio had asked them to make something for a quick buck.
The good news is Color Out Of Space is one of those films. Even when you are watching the film in a big cinema you find yourself transported back to your lounge room sitting in front of your TV with the VHS plugged in. Added to that is the fact that this is a film made by a filmmaker who has been in love with the work for years, and that is obvious throughout the film. Yes there is a retro feel to Color Out Of Space but this is also a film that very much holds up for audiences of today as well.
Based on a short story by HP Lovecraft Color Out Of Space finds a family trying to re-start their lives in a beautiful home in an ancient wood. The ambitious father, Nathan (Nicolas Cage – The Rock), is trying to set up an alpaca farm while trying to mend his relationship with his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson – Event Horizon), who is recovering from cancer.
Nathan also finds his relationship with his children is strained. His teenage daughter Lavinia (Madeline Arthur – Big Eyes) is going through a rebellious stage that involves experimenting with Wicca while his teenage son, Benny (Brendan Meyer – The Guest) is more interested in getting stoned with their hippy neighbour, Ezra (Tommy Chong – Zootopia) then he is to help out on the farm.
All of those problems pale into significance though when the family’s farm is hit by a meteor. Although strange occurrences start happening straight away they are told by the authorities that everything will be okay, with only young hydrologist Ward (Elliot Knight – Titans) warning them that he believes it has contaminated the water table.
As a filmmaker you very quickly learn that Richard Stanley (Hardware) doesn’t much around when he is telling a story like this. He doesn’t around with jump scares and the like, instead he delves straight into the story at hand focussing on characterisation to help move the story along before delving straight into the horror at hand. Perhaps some people out there may not like the ‘retro’ feel to the horror but it really does feel like Stanley has told this story the way that Lovecraft would have expected to see it on the screen.
While Stanley’s script doesn’t exactly explain what has caused the ‘being’ from the meteorite to behave the way it does the events that follow are so horrific that the audience really won’t mind. In fact not knowing all the ins and outs of what is happening actually works to the film’s audience because it places the audience in the same boat as the characters on the screen – they can’t work out what the hell is happening and neither can we. Stanley’s approach to the horror is creative and to his credit he doesn’t try and hide the brutal results from his audience.
There also seems to be a real bond and chemistry a between the cast as well. Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson are sensational together on screen, and credit must be paid to them for not shying away from starring in an alternative genre flick like this. Aside from Jack Nicholson nobody quite does ‘crazy’ on screen like Cage and here he is in his element.
Stanley also brings out the best in the younger cast and it is easy to see that both Brendan Meyer and Madelaine Arthur have big futures ahead of them in Hollywood. With her performance in Color Out Of Space Arthur really announces herself as an actress that can deliver it all. From scenes of romantic tension with Elliott Knight to extreme scenes involving self-harm she is on top of her game. Credit must also be paid to Stanley for not using Tommy Chong as a ‘joke’ in the film. His character of Ezra is one of the most interesting characters in the film and plays an important role in the story at hand… he is certainly not just there for a cameo.
While Color Out Of Space may not be the kind of film enjoyed by the casual movie goer it is destined to become a cult classic amongst the more hardcore horror and sci-fi fans. It’s retro vibe once again reminds many of us why we love cinema so much.
Kyle McGrath’s Review
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Color Out Of Space Reviews: N/A
The relationship between the work of H.P Lovecraft and the screen has been a long lasting affair. Classic films such as Re-Animator and Call Of Cthulhu all started with Lovecraft and even in pop culture shows of today, like Riverdale, the presence of the great writer is still there for all to see.
Perhaps though no filmmaker has been more equipped and qualified to bring Lovecraft’s work to the big screen in the way that Richard Stanley is. Thanks to his mother’s love for the work of Lovecraft Stanley has lived and breathed the writer’s work for his entire life. Now Stanley has brought one of his favourite Lovecraft short stories to the big screen in the form of Colour Out Of Space starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson.
“I have been a massive fan of Lovecraft’s my entire life,” says Stanley as he sits down to talk to Subculture about his latest film. “I’ve been stealing ideas from his since I was a child so I figured it was important to re-pay the debt and make an official Lovecraft movie. I would love to have had his actual name on the title – like Bram Stroker’s Dracula, it probably should have been H.P. Lovecraft’s Colour Out Of Space because I did want to tilt my hat to the guy.”
“Over the years as a fan I have been very disappointed in the lack of decent adaptations that have been made,” he goes to explain. “I wish that Del Toro had done Mountains Of Madness or that James Wan had done Call Of Cthulhu so I figured that it was time that somebody did an official adaptation of one of the essential stories. Colour Out Of Space is fruit on a low hanging branch because it is all set on a single farm and is about a single family being destroyed by the ultra-dimensional threat. I figured when it came to location that was easier to produce than something set on Mars or in the depths of the Mariana Trench. We could do this on a low to medium budget which I guess is why the story presented itself.”
As we talk more about the work of Lovecraft Stanley starts to tell about the special bond that his own mother had for Lovecraft’s work. “My mother was an anthropologist and also a graphic artist in the 1960s and 1970s so she was drawing a lot of weird and trippy stuff herself,” he explains. “I think she had been an admirer of Lovecrafts since she was child herself. She started me on his more fantastic pieces of work, she used to read to me from a work called The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath when I was about seven years old, so there are a few of the Lovecraft stories that are strangely enough suitable for children. That inevitable though led me onto harder things so by the time I was 13 I had evolved from the stories and was involved in the role-playing games and was fully submerged in everything around it.”
As our discussion goes on I soon start to learn that the idea of turning Colour Out Of Space into a film had been with Stanley for a long time. “I think I first thought about when I was about thirteen years old,” he says. “I think I must have read the story when I was about eleven or twelve and then when I first started to muck around with a Super 8 camera I tried to adapt the story into a script, but I abandoned it because it was obviously too complicated, but it must have come into my consciousness very early on. Partly the reason for doing it now was that it was achievable with a low budget but also because of the backwoods setting, the remote forests of Lovecraft’s fictional encounters.”
The rumours that Stanley would be making Colour Out Of Space first started back in 2013 and he admits that it has been a long road to getting the film off paper and into cinemas. “Like most things in the film business there is always a cubic centimetre of chance,” he says with a small laugh. “There is always that element of luck. I came up with the screenplay with my co-writer that I was pretty happy with and I spent a few years shopping it around. I was trying to find a production partner or cast members willing to come on board and then there was a bit of a stroke of luck that the Spectre Vision producer Josh Waller was chatting to Nic Cage on the set of Mandy, and I believe the subject of H.P. Lovecraft came up.”
“Nic is extremely well read,” he says continuing. “He is also a fan of the original material and Josh remembered that there had been a Lovecraft script floating around and he pulled out the screenplay and managed to get it into Nic’s hands. Then I believe they did a verbal deal on the back of a napkin to agree to make the movie. The first I heard about it was I got a phone call from somebody claiming to be Nic Cage from somewhere in Nevada that came through to my house in France about 2 in the morning and he was claiming that he was making my movie. I didn’t believe it and I remember waking up the next morning and thinking ‘did that really happen?’ before getting on with my life.”
“Then Josh actually came to my house in France,” he explains. “Early in the morning he started banging on my door so I fixed him a coffee and he told me to get in the car and at that point I realised that we were indeed making the movie and that we only six weeks to prepare it.”
Colour Out Of Space is in cinemas now.
Kyle McGrath is a life-long film and television fan who has an encyclopedic knowledge of films. Kyle loves all kinds of films but is an expert when it comes to cult cinema and action films. He has also worked as a video game reviewer.
Over the years Kyle has had a number of roles in the media world from a production assistant at Melbourne Channel 31 television station and an executive producer on the popular X-Wired television show. Currently he works not only as a film reviewer for Subculture Entertainment but also for The Popcorn Experience podcast. He also writes reviews for HEAVY Mag and hosts a popular video games podcast for them.
Currently Kyle McGrath has 59 Reviews on Subculture Entertainment
Currently Kyle McGrath features on 57 episodes of The Popcorn Conspiracy
Currently Kyle McGrath has 1 film feature article on Subculture