Wow. Sam Neill sure has been in a lot of Lovecraftian movies. And guess what! That’s today’s theme! So I guess, if we are going to talk about Sam Neill and Lovecraft, the obvious movie to talk about is John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness. I have already seen it, so I’m not going to go into full, wild detail about it, but it is the most Lovecraftian of Neill’s movies, John Carpenter’s movies, and is one of the most Lovecraftian movies ever made. It’s also one of my absolute favorite horror movies, so I highly recommend it.
Directed by Andrzej Żuławski
Written by Frederic Tuten and Andrzej Żuławski
This movie is difficult to nail down. There are many conflicting arguments over how to label it. Is it horror? Is it a relationship drama? Is it an action movie? It’s all of them, really. I mean, it opens as the most terrifying “end of a marriage” style movie I’ve ever. seen. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In my opinion, Possession is possibly the closest to a modern, neo-Lovecraftian film we have. H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction was almost entirely about insanity. And most of that time, the insanity was brought about by such intense fear that the only way to escape it is to lose your mind. That fear is the fear of unknown, otherworldly, unspeakable horror. And I believe that that level of fear is perfectly represented at multiple points throughout Possession.
The two main characters, Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark (Sam Neill) are getting a divorce. Anna just doesn’t love Mark anymore and she can’t explain it. Mark eventually discovers she has been having an affair with a man named Heinrich, a weird old spiritual yuppie who kicks the shit out of Mark in their first meeting.
Eventually, we sort of lose track of exactly what happens but Anna goes absolutely insane and slowly drives everyone around her crazy as well, with the exception of her and Mark’s young son, Bob. I don’t want to reveal too much, less for spoiler reasons and more for I can’t write well enough to do the visuals of this movie justice. The bulk of the movie is blood and screaming.
In case I haven’t made it clear, this is a surrealist film. Think Ingmar Bergman, Lars von Trier, and David Cronenberg all get together to make a movie based on the concepts of H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, and you’ll start to understand how this movies beats the hell out of your brain. I added it to this list because parts of the movie are terrifying. But it’s that fun, terror where you aren’t quite sure what you;re afraid of or why.
Event Horizon (1997)
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Written by Philip Eisner and Andrew Kevin Walker
Event Horizon is basically like if H.P. Lovecraft was born in the mid 1960s and, throughout his life, had seen and loved Alien, Hellraiser, The Shining, Solaris, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, so he decided to write a screenplay.
It almost seems like the movie pays too much homage to those things for it to stand on its own, but I still really liked it. It’s fun, has that Lovecraftian appeal, and has some solid performances. Plus, I’m a huge sucker for space station horror. The Dead Space games are awesome. I even thought Pandorum was OK. Not great, but you know. Good enough.
Anyway this is about a crew on a spaceship sent to figure out exactly what happened to the spaceship called the “Event Horizon.” They are joined by an engineer who developed some kind of warp speed boost that allowed the Event Horizon to enter into a parallel dimension to fold time and space, allowing it to teleport. Of course, traveling through this dimension allowed some time of invisible evil to possess the ship and its crew and make them eat and kill each other. Which pretty much happens again here.
It’s fun. It looks cool. If you sit back and enjoy its dated CGI and fun, over-acting from very talented actors (Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and more), and you like space horror and/or H.P. Lovecraft, it’s definitely far from a waste of time.