ByMark Capehart, writer at
An academic lover of all things horror and folklore posting my thoughts and observations
Mark Capehart

Anyone out there like movies? Well I do. All kinds of movies as long as they are freaky horror films or something like that. Or just freaky. Gonna start looking at films and all sorts of media for the next bit. Are you ready?

Getting rolling on my look into media and the world of horror with two short films that already have a bit of a following and I love to death. Why start with these you may ask. Well, they both bring up point that I want to make about the genre. You see I want to do more than just give thumbs up or down to these works. I want to comment and, hopefully, chat about the intricacies of the media world

Lovecraft, its all about the Lovecraft

Lets start with a film from a few years ago. 2009 to be exact. This is a stop motion animated short of H.P. Lovecraft's "From Beyond". For those who don't know the plot it is classic Lovecraft. Scientist accesses forbidden knowledge that leads to the ripping of the veil between this world and another. To sum up, it does not go well for either the scientist nor his observing friend. It all ends in a pool of madness and grotesque deformity with weird creatures flitting about.

Now the filmmaker makes some changes to the story though only one jumps out at me. It is the sign on the door implying that what we have just seen is taking place in a mental hospital. Is our central character merely hallucinating the whole thing or is he reliving the experience that drove him mad in the first place? Heck, maybe this is the actual experiment and the only place the scientist could find to work was an abandoned mental institution. The film just sorta leaves it hanging out there. But this does lead me to my bigger question to ponder.

Is animation the ideal way to deal with the horror genre. The genre requires such leaps of imagination be it in terms of creatures, settings, behavior and such that is almost behooves us to simply abandon the real world to begin with. This is especially true in the case of Lovecraft whose writings invoke images and situations that would probably cost around 50-100 million dollars to flesh out fully. Just look at the continuing epic that is Mountains of Madness for example.

With stop motion animation you can avoid much of this is you have the skill and, probably more important, the patience. The creatures and machinery can be done in a manner befitting their grandness and you avoid the potential cheesy aspect of being behind the "state of the art" in terms of FX. This film gives us some truly frightening creature. Now can this be done in live action films. Well the feature version of this same story was pretty darn good and had Barbara Crampton in it which I think this film, and every other film she is not in, is sorely missing. Yet that film takes way more liberties with the plot that this film and you also have the problem with the public getting to know your film. Yes that feature is a horror classic but many filmmakers who are not blessed with access to great acting, locations, etc. must find another way to make their project work. Stop motion or other animation styles seem to be the way.

Now what are the limitations on this. Well, you have the problem of disconnect. No matter what happens to your central character it is gonna be hard to get the emotional response you want. Why? Cause it is not a real person that's why! it is just an animated character. Sure people will feel for it but not in the way they do for a flesh and blood character.

Another issue is that animation is not a be all end all problem solver. Nothing can hide bad writing, bad acting or bad sound. That last one is a real killer in any movie. It is still a multistage, multi-person process that will take time and collaboration. If one thinks they can just animate something and all problem will be overlooked they will be sorely mistaken.

Lastly, this sort of film-making takes patience. Anyone who has ever worked on an animated film knows this and it is hard to explain to those who do not have that experience. Think of your daily output measured in seconds, not scenes. This is not the realm for the easily distracted.

All that said this is still one dang good film. Take a peek and enjoy.

The whimsical romance of the afterlife

The second one is Goutte d'Or Short film. Now this one brings up a questions of what makes something a horror film. This wonderful little film has ghosts, haunted ships, gruesome hanging, a naked witch on her broomstick and lovecraftian imagery. Yet its story is that of a delightful romantic courtship of a executed pirate captain and the witchy object of his desire. What does this movie teach us. Be sure to check who your crushes pet/BRR is before you brag about your endeavors and that musicians always get the girl. The thing is, i ran into this film through horror websites and communities. as it shows in its pro log it has gotten plenty of attention from mainline critics yet it is the horror crowd that is giving it a bunch of shares and links. Why is that? Is it the ambiance of death or the presence of supernatural elements? the imagery of monsters and decay? hard to say but those who don;t take a look are missing out and there in lies the bigger question. What makes something a "horror" production.

In another post I waxed poetic on the definitions of the different genres so I will avoid that now. Even included some rantings about particular films but there is a a basic filter that all people have that determines what is a horror movie. I some people this also determines if they will instantly dislike the film. The statement of "I don't like horror movies." is usually followed by much defensiveness what said persons are asked to define their positions. Do the trappings of atmosphere and visuals make something horror for some people and not to others? That is something worth exploring more.

In the meantime there is a great little film for people to enjoy while they think of these bigger issues. And in itself raises the technical question of what is the best sort of animation. CGI is great when used with care such as it is here but often it becomes a crutch for filmmakers and the results can charitably be regarded as cheesy. As with the stop motion example above it really does come down to how dedicated and patient the filmmaker is in their craft. All the while trying to deal with that darn capitalism.

Anyway, more on that later. For now enjoy the film.

Okay, that is the first two of many more overly academic ramblings to come. Will stick with short films for a while as I received leads on many but other sort of media will be included. Thanks for giving me the looks and the shares.


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