Colour From the Dark (2008) is director Ivan Zuccon’s artistic interpretation of H. P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space” (1927). It follows two previously released films also based on the short story—Die, Monster, Die! (1965) starring Boris Karloff, and The Curse / Curse 2: The Bite (Double Feature) (1987), starring Wil Wheaton. Colour From the Dark is a horror film set in the Italian country side in 1943. The main character, Lucia, is played by horror great Debbie Rochon; talented Michael Segal as Pietro; and, Marysia Kay, who plays an awesome Alice.
It sucks your life out.
World War II is in full-swing. Pietro, his wife Lucia, and his mentally challenged sister in-law, Alice, live in humble dwellings in the Italian countryside. Pietro, who has a bum knee, works the fields with Lucia and Alice while his three brothers are away at war. Although the small family is clearly poor, they seem happy and content with life. All is well until Monday. Alice struggles while retrieving the bucket from the well. Pietro eventually helps her, and the two unleash a foul-smelling vapor that leaves an underlying colorful glow in the water. Soon the small farm is in full bloom. The plants are growing at an uncanny rate, the vegetables are super size, and the earth is fertile. Alice, who is mute, begins to talk. At first, Lucia and Pietro believe they are blessed, but things deteriorate rapidly. Over the next seven days, the color from the well, the glow, spreads throughout the farm, all over the house, and all through them. Eventually, everything becomes dry and dead. Over the next seven days their lives deteriorate as demonic and evil events terrorize the small family.
Most of the action takes place in the dark: the bedrooms, an unlit house, the barn, the well, and in the dark fields. The darkness sets the mood for the decline of Lucia and eventually all of the others. Some of the action happens while the characters are dreaming, which helps fill in some of the blanks in the story. There are key scenes in the daylight. These are mostly at the beginning of the film, before the color is unleashed, and the characters are happy and normal. Once the color is unearthed, the landscape becomes vibrant for just a short period. It rapidly decays and the earth becomes gray, ashen, and colorless. In a short time, the colorlessness spreads across the garden, the yard, and on everything in the house and barn. Eventually, it sucks the life out of everything it touches.
The acting is great. The characters are well-done and believable (if you believe in demonic possession). Rochon’s performance as Lucia, a devout woman who, in seven days, transforms into an evil incarnate, is superb. She effortlessly transforms from the caring and selfless Lucia to the demoniac held captive in the barn by Pietro. Michael Segal is convincing as Pietro, a poor farmer who tries to do the right thing and keep the family together while fighting off the colorful glow. His character is hard-working, sincere, and honest. He, too, eventually succumbs to despair and ultimately the “color”. Maryisa Kay’s portrayal as Alice, Lucia’s mute sister who has mental challenges, is not only believable but also critical to the plot.
The special effects are low-budget and support the decline of the vibrant countryside and on the downfall of the characters. Once the color takes over, it spreads rapidly and covers everything in a blanket of decay and ruin. More than one crucifix melts away, and the physical appearance of the characters grow demoniac. While the special effects are not on the cutting edge, they work well in the film. The main props are the isolated farmhouse, the well, and the fields of decay. Nothing more is needed.
Lovecraft is one of my favorite authors, and I make it a point to watch film adaptations of his works. Many elements in Lovecraft’s story are true in the film: the well, the grayness, the decay, the wind, the madness, the bitter vegetables, the colorful glow, and the deaths of all who come in contact with the color. There are significant differences between the short story and Zuccon’s Colour. If you haven’t read Lovecraft’s short story, I won’t spoil it for you completely. Lovecraft’s story takes place in the late 1800’s in America while Zuccon sets the action in the Italian countryside during World War II. That’s about all I’m going to say about the short story. My only criticism is about short scenes that seem to go no where. This was probably noticeable because I’m familiar with the short story. One example is the story of Teresa. I gather that she was a Jew in hiding, and I assume the Nazis kill her. I’m not sure what purpose she served in the film, and if Zuccon told us, I missed it. We were shown her rotting corpse on occasion for reasons unknown to me. This entire storyline could have been deleted, and it wouldn’t hurt the story. Lovecraft’s short story is more science fiction than horror. A meteorite falls from the sky and poisons the water. While the events that happen after are close to what Pietro, Lucia, and Alice encounter, Lovecraft’s story is more focused on the science of the thing, an alien phenomenon that destroys life. Zuccon’s color was unearthed from the well, suggesting an ancient demon caused the possession and death of the farm’s inhabitants.
Director: Ivan Zuccon
Writer: Ivo Gazzarrini, H.P. Lovecraft (story)
Stars: Debbie Rochon, Michael Segal, Marysia Kay, Gerry Shanahan
Runtime: 92 min
Released: 09 Mar 2012
Colour from the Dark Official Website
Watch Colour From the Dark now on Amazon Instant Video.