First transmitted on 04/11/2005
Masters of Horror - Series 1, Episode 2
Many filmmakers have attempted to navigate the delirious cosmic terrors of H. P. Lovecraft, but Stuart Gordon has been the most persistent. I don’t rate Gordon particularly highly as a filmmaker, but he has achieved something nobody else has; he’s actually made a decent film based on Lovecraft material. In this case the blackly humorous Re-Animator (1985), a film which retained the spirit of Lovecraft, but bravely adopted a sardonic tone, the result of which was one of the most original variations on the themes established in dozens of Frankenstein films. Since then Gordon has returned to Lovecraft on four separate occassions with varying degrees of success. He followed Re-Animator with From Beyond (1986) and offered up a visually ravishing spectacle full of colour and surreal special effects, but sadly the film had more artifice than substance, and only rarely approached the agitated feverishness of Lovecraft. His third attempt at Lovecraft was Castle Freak (1995), based on the story The Outsider and was largely an unsatisfactory and uninspired affair. This was followed by Dagon (2001), a film which has cultivated something of a cult reputation, but once again betrayed the narrative and the sense of encroaching and impending doom in favour of highly impressive visuals and a colour palette bathed in a chilly blue. His fifth attempt was on the invitation of Mick Garris for the first season of Masters of Horror. Gordon chose to adapt the tale Dreams in the Witch House, and the result is easily Gordon’s feeblest and most lacklustre Lovecraft adaptation to date.
© Shaun Anderson 2010