Over the last few days, I’ve seen a couple of horror movies, one new and one old. The new one is The Color Out of Space, which, unfortunately, is indescribable. Nic Cage is raising alpacas on a farm near Arkham; his neighbor is Tommy Chong, who really leans into the deadhead stereotype. There is a family. For a while. They really come together in confronting the nightmare that has landed in their front yard, which is my way of saying there will be some gruesome body horror. Pity the alpacas. Nic Cage’s mannerisms and accents get weirder as the movie progresses. Tommy Chong finds enlightenment, of a kind of purplish pink wavelength. Everyone dies, but it’s OK, they come back. Wait, that’s not OK. The plot is very Lovecraftian, in the sense that the plot really doesn’t matter at all, it’s just a scenario in which an ordinary family, in the sense of a family that chooses to isolate themselves in rural Massachusetts and milk alpacas is ordinary, get confronted with a malignant cosmic reality that cares nothing for them.
If you liked The Thing, you’ll love this movie. If you enjoy watching Nic Cage acting badly, but with verve, you’ll like this movie. If you watch this movie under the influence of drugs, you’ll probably become one with the movie. If you’re a fan of Cronenberg or Lynch, you’ll want to see this movie. If you like alpacas, you may be profoundly disturbed by this movie. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you want to see it.
By the way, the color is magenta.
The old movie I watched was The People Under the Stairs. I first saw this one when it came out in the theaters, way back in 1991, when there was a theater around the corner from me in Salt Lake City that would show odd arthouse movies that none of the Mormons would ever go see, but that would appeal to the university crowd. There was a lot of dreck, but two stuck with me: Tetsuo: The Iron Man for its bizarre transformations and horrifying body fluidity, and The People Under the Stairs for it’s remarkably prescient class consciousness.
Here’s a review that spells out the story, but really, it’s obvious: psychopathic rich people control a black neighborhood, taking all the money out of the people’s hands and salting it away in the cellar of their escape-proof, booby-trapped house. They also steal children, and if they don’t behave to their standards, mutilate them and stash them in the cellar, where they’re forced to live on the flesh of burglars. The metaphor is laid on pretty thick, to the point where you begin to wonder if Wes Craven was having prophetic dreams about 2020. Unfortunately, you could see this coming quite clearly in the 80s, so I don’t think he had any magic powers.