No surprise, walking up in the mask got plenty of reactions. A few people recognized it from my 15 minutes of Internet Fame, mostly people just thought it was ass-kickin'. Many pictures were had (wouldn't surprise me if they show up online this week, we'll see). Man, that thing is hot, and with the heavy leather trenchcoat, the sheer heat build up wore me out. Luckily, I was smart enough not to bother wearing it while viewing, just for the break times.
The pictures were fun, the praise was great, but the best part is that someone brought their 4-month-old son to the festival, and got me to bless it in the name of The Great Old Ones. Awwwwww...yeah, fun. There's a girl that shows up every year in a full dark-green spandex outfit that includes wispy wings and a tentacled face-veil, an excellent costume. I had to get my minor moments of fame in before she showed up. ;)
So, started with the final Shorts Block:
- The Dead Don't Lie: Using King In Yellow as a base, this one tried to be spooky. The idea was solid, but I kept feeling like there were really important scenes left on the cutting room floor...scenes like why things happened, transitional pieces to explain how one time became another, etc. Good premise, not the best implementation.A short break to wander around and get funny looks, more pix taken, and plenty of hugs from hot geek chicks. Man, I should wear that thing more often...
- Seance: Czech period short involving speaking to the dead and a ritual for extended life. Atmospheric, clear, very pretty, well acted. I'd have enjoyed this as an even longer film, if that tells you something.
- Lenore: Meh. It tried to be moody and only succeeded in being dark. It also tried being artistic by having no dialogue, and only really succeeded in being muddled.
- The Call: Very nifty little short that expanded on The Call of Cthulhu. A sea captain turns himself over to the FBI, and his interrogator turns out to be a member of a Dagon cult, wanting to get his info to make sure he's told no one, etc. Very nice twist, and well done.
- Forlorn Hope: Swedish short, centered around Nyarlathotep manifesting in the 1600's to a group of lost soldiers. I really had higher hopes for this than what I got, but then, I didn't really know what they were gonna do with it. It was good, don't get me wrong, it just felt a little...flat. Still, an ambitious flick, excellent costuming, and well done.
- Next viewing was Night of the Eagle, a '62 UK flick starring Peter Wyngarde and based on Fritz Lieber's "Conjure-Wife". Oh, very typical early 60's flick, but damn fun, and Janet Blair...*MROWR*. I haven't seen this in so long I'd forgotten it. Wyngarde gives a very solid performance as always, and as an added interesting note, appears here with Colin Gordon; both of them went on to play the role of Number 2 in The Prisoner 5 years later.Time for food. I kept looking around for Nick, but never seemed to spot him, hope I didn't just miss him. With no one to hang out with, I walked down to Quizno's, but it seems that a lot of the film festival patrons have hammered the place for three days, as they have signs up saying they are completely out of most breads. What they had left didn't sound like what I wanted, so I figured, what the Hell, it was about time for my annual reminder of why I avoid McDonald's.
Hey, it's a Lovecraft weekend, there has to be some insanity somewhere.
Wolfed down an unsatisfying meal, relaxed in the car for a bit, and headed back inside. Caught up with those I knew, rambled with Andrew for a few, and it was once again time to sit int he darkness and watch shadows play out upon the cave wall.
- Colour from the Dark: A full length Italian film based on The Colour out of Space, but set in 1943 on a small farm. The setting did not detract form the story in the least, and it was an excellent film. I'd own it, definitely. This director sent in a film a few years ago which was good, but he has definitely matured and it shows. Good camera work, solid script, and great use of minimal effects, making them stand out more. Nicely creepy and slow-paced, allowing the horror to build up instead of leap out.With that done, the time was upon us. We all knew what time it was; even those new to the festival knew something was coming, something horrific, squelching and slouching and generally moving with a disgusting gait in the direction of the screen. We felt the cold and slimy hands of these two films as they gripped us and whispered vile promises into our brains, swearing that our minds would never be the same. It was time for the one thing that everyone who goes to the HPLFF must be subjected to at least once, the source of guaranteed sanity loss. It was time...for Elwood and company.
- Andrew isn't a mean man. He knew that there were a lot of new faces this year, and they couldn't just be thrown headlong into something this hideous. We started with a couple stories of his younger years, moments when he felt the icy hands of fear and disquiet, stories that we all found too funny to ignore. He gave up the stage to Scott Glancy (president of Pagan Publishing; you Delta Green fans should know that name), who added a couple stories of his own....and that was it, it was over. The bittersweet feeling filled me once more, as I left behind another great weekend of the festival. Good times, good people, always a lot of fun...and dammit, next year, I expect some of you to come experience it with me.
- With the mood suitably set, Jarred Wallace of Dagon Industries came forward, and set up the first clip. being a musical piece, we got ourselves ready by the traditional singing of "There was a cult who had a god and Dagon was his name-o". As usual, we screwed it up at least once (but we did better than ever before...how hard is it to sing "Bingo" anyway?), and we were ready, suitably armored (or shaken) for the end.
- Dagon: Unleash The Beast: "Dungeon Dave" made this flick. All of it. The animation, the song, the whole shebang. And he must be proud of it. Black lines on white, done in MSPaint (and badly, at that). The song doesn't rhyme, doesn't scan, doesn't stay on it's own (or any other) beat, and doesn't make as much sense as it seems to think it does. Oh, and the end credits claim it was inspired by Lovecraft's work, and White Zombie's 'Superbeast'. The "tune" gets stuck in your head and grows barbs; there's no getting this one out of your head. To add a cherry to the top of this sundae, Dave sent it in a few years later...redone in color. Still MSPaint, still hideous.
- All of this, though, was just appetizer, soup, and salad before the main entree. There was no hiding now. No way to avoid things. We'd drawn the symbols, we'd spoken the chants. Elwood was about to manifest. Edward Campbell sent in this adaptation of Dreams in the Witch-House, and it was so hideously bad that Andrew just couldn't show it. however, he does show it to us, every year, and it is our own little 'Rocky Horror'/MST3K film. The camera work is terrible. The editing is weak at best, the lighting is crap. The acting is atrocious. The witch looks like a reject from The Wizard of Oz , down to the warty green nose and skin, the long black nails, and the tall pointy hat. Nyarlathotep (in his Black Man form) appears to be wearing an eyepatch on both eyes (Which I suppose is why we refer to him as Nyarrrrrrlathotep). Brown Jenkin (a rat with a human face, for those that have not read the story) is played by a ferret. When blood spurts on a wall, you can see a hand flinging it. Several actors are having issues remembering their lines. A sequence that gets repeated many times depicting a trip through the fourth dimension is a slowed down film of the main character's and witch's heads at the bottom of the screen while a couple of lamps are subjected to prismatic light splitting. The gate to another dimension is a triangle cut in the plywood floor with a strobe light under it. The fixtures look like they came from Pier 1 Imports at the last minute.
And then there's Elwood.
The character is Frank Elwood. The actor is a mistake. He can't act, he can't remember his lines and is constantly caught looking down at a script (not always in a subtle manner). He can't emote. He's slack-jawed and has a fat lower lip. His skin is a mess. His white-boy fro is a rat's nest. He talks like he has a mouthful of marbles. He's possibly the worst thing ever seen on the silver screen...and so, as you can guess, he's our hero. He's so bad, he's a god.
As I left, walking back to my car, I came across Alanna, waiting for her cab. I stopped and we talked for a while, since I only see her at the festival each year, and I'd missed her most of the day (funny, the day before, as I was walking out to my car, she was telling someone else about the mask and caught me going by!). I didn't like the idea of leaving her there alone, so I helped her carry her stuff up to the main road to look for the cab, which was taking it's sweet time getting there. We talked longer, and I watched her stuff while she ran inside to check on something. Just about the time I was going to offer her a ride home, the cab finally pulled up. We loaded her boxes in the trunk, hugged goodbye, and I was off. Damn, should have gotten her number. Ah well, c'est la guerre.
Jumped in The Crypt, fired up Dragontown, and motored for home. Detoured around the construction and had a smooth ride home: windows down, cold night air blowing my hair back, singing "Sex, Death, and Money" at the top of my lungs.
The stars were right.