The new Lovecraftian horror movie Color Out of Space is the first major project from director Richard Stanley since he was fired from The Island of Dr. Moreau back in 1996. Film critic Theresa DeLucci has fond memories of Stanley’s early films Hardware and Dust Devil, which were released in the early 1990s.
“I’ve been a longtime Richard Stanley fan,” DeLucci says in Episode 410 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I was really happy to see him back with something new, because he’s had a very interesting road to Hollywood, then away and back again.”
The nighmarish production of The Island of Dr. Moreau, which involved a titanic clash of egos between stars Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando, is chronicled in the 2014 documentary Lost Soul. Horror author Paul Tremblay thinks it’s likely that the documentary played a key role in rehabilitating Stanley’s reputation.
“A lot of people were talking about it, and he is certainly portrayed in a more sympathetic light than the legends of what had happened to that movie might have said previously,” Tremblay says. “I remember when that came out, people were like, ‘Oh yeah, I remember Richard Stanley. He’s cool.’ So it’s a ‘no publicity is bad publicity’ kind of thing.”
Horror author Grady Hendrix says a lot of the credit for Color Out of Space also goes to the adventurous production company RLJE. “They’re a little like Blumhouse, though they have less control over the content than Blumhouse does,” Hendrix says. “But they kind of feel like, ‘OK, if you’re going to bring it in at this budget, and you can make it work, we can do enough foreign pre-sales to make that work, so sure, do it.’”
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley says that Color Out of Space is an enjoyable horror movie that reminds him a lot of Annihilation, one of his all-time favorite films.
“I would definitely recommend you watch Annihilation first, if you haven’t seen it, and then if you want to watch a little bit more gory, goofy version of it, you could check this out,” he says. “But I thought it was a lot of fun overall.”
Listen to the complete interview with Theresa DeLucci, Paul Tremblay, and Grady Hendrix in Episode 410 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
David Barr Kirtley on cosmic horror:
“Annihilation was my favorite movie of the last decade. I really, really love it. And [Color Out of Space] is—I don’t want to say it’s the poor man’s Annihilation, but it is sort of a goofier version of Annihilation. But there are a lot of parallels. And actually there’s a whole subgenre that’s come out of Lovecraft’s story ‘The Colour Out of Space,’ where somehow the natural world has been corrupted and mutated by some sort of cosmic influence, some sort of otherworldly presence that’s caused logic and sense to break down and is driving people mad. Phase IV is an obvious example, They Remain, The Endless. There are a whole bunch like that.”
Paul Tremblay on Phase IV:
“It’s an overlooked gem, and also I think its influence is bigger than the movie, if that makes sense. Even Annihilation, in the third act, at the very end, that almost ant-like hole that Natalie Portman crawls into, that visual really struck me as being the same as Phase IV. … The history behind Phase IV is kind of wild. It’s Saul Bass‘s only film that he’s directed. For years he was an art designer. He made all these iconic, famous movie posters, many of them for Hitchcock. And if you want to deep dive and lose yourself in internet arguments, there are still people who maintain that Saul Bass actually storyboarded and directed the shower scene in Psycho—which I think has been debunked, but for a while Saul Bass himself was saying, for whatever reason, ‘Oh yeah, I did that.’”
Theresa DeLucci on Re-Animator:
“I met Jeffrey Combs at a bunch of different horror conventions back in the day, and my mom actually has an autograph from Jeffrey Combs. It’s a still from Re-Animator, with him and Dr. Hill’s head, and it says, ‘To Annemarie, life is pain,’ or something like that. It’s above her vanity, so every day my mom does her makeup underneath Jeffrey Combs’s autograph. It hangs in a place of pride. Because my mom watched a lot of horror movies too, and we would just laugh about ‘the severed head is giving head.’ That’s the famous scene from Re-Animator. … I’ll just never forget how horrified I was by that scene.”
Grady Hendrix on science fiction:
“There are really only two approaches to science fiction, basically. They both come out of a pulp tradition at the beginning of the 20th century. And one is the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars tradition, which is ‘space is basically humans, and some are green, and some are blue, and some have wrinkly foreheads, but they’re essentially humans.’ … And then there’s the H.P. Lovecraft take on it, which is ‘aliens are beyond our comprehension. For god’s sake, one of them is a living color, what does that even mean? We can’t even conceive of them because they are so far beyond us, and to even interact with them will cause our bodies to collapse and mutate and turn into something else, because they’re just so alien.’”