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The H.P. Lovecraft Collection, Vol. 3: Out of Mind - horror/sci-fi DVD / action adventure DVD review
THE H.P. LOVECRAFT COLLECTION, VOL. 3: OUT OF MIND Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Christopher Heyerdahl, Art Kitching, Michael Sinelnikoff
Directors: Raymond Saint-Jean, John Stysik   Studio: Microcinema
DVD release: 27 May 2008   Runtime: 120 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (English), Exclusive "Out of Mind" audio commentary by director Raymond Saint-Jean & actor Christopher Heyerdahl, Exclusive crew interview about "The Music of Erich Zann," Educational interview with Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi, Trailers & teasers from upcoming Lovecraft films, Informative eight-page booklet on Lovecraft and the films

Unlike other volumes, the centerpiece of Volume 3 of The H.P. Lovecraft Collection , Out of Mind (directed by Raymond Saint-Jean for Canadian television) is not an adaptation but rather an interesting work that is part biography, part wholly original story that liberally borrows from many of the author's best-known works. Though the film mostly seems to consist of two entirely separate parts, the two mesh effectively together at the end. The resulting film is no masterpiece, but it is an interesting and entertaining film that gives the viewer a good sense of Lovecraft and his work.

The most impressive aspect of the film is Christopher Heyerdahl's portrayal of Lovecraft. For one thing, Heyerdahl looks remarkably similar to the author. Furthermore, though no known recording or film of Lovecraft exists, Heyerdahl seems to perfectly capture the accent and mannerisms of a turn-of-the-century New Englander. It would be hard to argue that this performance is anything but a definitive portrayal of Lovecraft.

The film opens with an eerily effective "vintage" interview with the author (in which Heyerdahl quotes from actual letters, essays and stories written by Lovecraft that strongly convey the author's philosophy). This interview is intertwined with the primary "fiction" plot, in which young artist Randolph Carter (played by Art Kitching) finds out that he has inherited a strange parcel from a distant relative he's never heard of. The box contains a picture of the relative (the spitting image of Carter), a strange note written on the back of a photo (a photo of the real Lovecraft), and a copy of The Necronomicon. After reading an apparent spell on the back of the picture, Carter gets caught in a labyrinth that seemingly mixes the real world with the dream world and the past with the present. Carter soon becomes convinced that his dead relative is trying to possess him. The film eventually builds to its highlight, an interesting and charming scene where Lovecraft and Carter actually meet.

Perhaps the primary purpose of the film is also its primary weakness: it seems to have been made by and for fans of Lovecraft only. For instance, the film is packed with allusions to Lovecraft's work (example: the protagonist's name, Randolph Carter, alludes to a character frequently seen in Lovecraft's work who often serves as his alter-ego). These many allusions are somewhat of a double-edged sword, for while they might get a wink and a smile from a Lovecraft fan, they will be missed by a viewer not familiar with the author's work. Furthermore, the primary focus of Out of Mind is not on the plot but on paying homage to Lovecraft. Those expecting scares might find a few, but not many.

Still, the film is enjoyable, worth watching and, again, gives the viewer a strong sense of who Lovecraft was (particularly through Heyerdahl's strong performance) and his work. It might help, though, to read some of Lovecraft's work before seeing this film.

The Music of Erich Zann, a 17-minute short by John Stysik, is actually my favorite film on the disk. Unlike Out of Mind, it is a direct adaptation of what is claimed to be one Lovecraft's personal favorites. The story: a student in Paris takes lodging in an old boarding house. Late one night, he hears a violin being played in the apartment upstairs. The music is beautiful, but otherworldly and haunting. He eventually meets the musician, an elderly mute named Erich Zann. The student soon learns that the music has to be played for mysterious, seemingly sinister purposes - and that a curtained window in the old man's apartment veils an otherworldly secret.

The film is quite impressive, even more so considering its tiny budget. It also faces two nearly impossible challenges head on: the "unearthly" music of Erich Zann and what happens when the window's curtain is drawn back. Both of these challenges are clearly literary conceits: on the printed page, both the music and the window are limited only by the reader's imagination, which is something film simply cannot match. Still, the music used (by future Emmy winner Andre Caporaso) is beautiful. Alas, the limited budget special effects used for the window (think the star corridor in 2001) are a good "college try" but still a letdown. It is nonetheless worth tolerating a disappointing ending for all that comes before it. Kudos should be given to the cinematography for this film, which impressively uses natural lighting to give the film a strong sense of time and place (turn-of-the-century Paris) as well as to set an eerie mood, especially in Zann's apartment.

The Outsider is an 8-minute student film from Aaron Vanek. Lovecraft's original, in which a nameless outsider tries to enter society only to discover a horrific truth, is twisted into a turn-of-the-century betrayed lover-type plot. As is the case with most student films, the acting is amateurish,, and it was obviously shot with a shoestring budget. However, the short does have an effective "Boo!" scare at the end, complete with a surprisingly good makeup job on the tragic hero.

My Necronomicon, also by Vanek, runs all of a minute and fifteen seconds. A man walks into an apartment, opens The Necronomicon, something weird happens and - that's it. This very short film does have a rather funny reason for its existence, though: Director Vanek had some leftover film stock from The Outsider and he simply decided to shoot something rather than schlep the blank film with him from Chicago (where he was in film school) back to Los Angeles.


  • Scene selection and Audio commentary for Out of Mind
  • Audio commentary for The Outsider and, believe it or not, My Necronomicon (all minute and a half of it)
  • Continuation from Volumes 1 and 2 of an interview with Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi
  • Crew interview for The Music of Erich Zann
  • An eight-page printed booklet
  • Trailers for The Call of Cthulhu (a very entertaining trailer, by the way) and The Unnamable
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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