The Dark Sleep (2012)

(aka, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dark Sleep)

There’s nothing supernatural going on here.  There’s a reasonable scientific explanation for everything.  I just need to figure it out.

If Brett Piper makes a Lovecraft movie, then the one thing we can be absolutely certain about is that it will feature lots of cool, old-school, stop-motion creatures.

Which this one definitely has in abundance.  More, I think, than I’ve seen in any of his other films.

Let’s face it, we watch Brett Piper’s movies not because we expect a masterful drama, but because we want to see a nice, friendly, trashy B-Movie with a few shudders and lots of great creature effects.  And we’ve got that.  We’ve got bugs; we’ve got tentacle things; we’ve got nasty, fanged worm things; devil dogs; a big, mostly friendly rat-thing; flying skeleton monsters; a giant skeleton warrior with a mass of tentacles for a mouth; a living castle; one serious pissed zombie; and what looks like a Martian tripod from the War of the Worlds.

Whew.

Once again, Brett teamed up with his long-time associate, Mark Polonia (who had produced Muckman not long before this one), to make one of his most ambitious films yet.  It is (supposedly) “inspired” by Lovecraft’s short story, “The Dreams in the Witch House,” although there seems to be little that carried over except for the writer moving into a sininster house; Nyarlathotep (The Crawling Chaos); Brown Jenkins, the messenger rat; and a lot of surreal dreams.

The HPL fanboys may catch one little winking reference, however:  when the inevitable Ken Van Sant (the Bruce Willis of the Polonia world) looks at the mysterious diagram on the basement wall, he talks about how it resembles the work of a Physicist named “Nathaniel Eddington,” who is neither a real physicist nor a Lovecraft character – but whose name just happens to be an amalgam of two of the people who inspired HPL’s story:  the physicist Arthur Eddington, who championed Einstein’s four-dimensional universe, and Nathaniel Hawthorn, whose unfinished novel Septimius Felton was a major influence.

However, I should note that the main character, a novelist who manipulates her ex-husband into giving her the house, just isn’t all that  sympathetic.  She comes off far too harsh, particularly when dealing with her ex.  While we know she’s the main character, and if she says her ex is a jerk, then that’s probably true in the story, we’d react a bit differently if we encountered the two of them feuding like this in real life, without any idea of their past history.  It would, in fact, be hard not to feel at least a little sorry for him.

Yes, she is that bitchy.

But she does eventually become more sympathetic when her sister shows up and her ex is mostly out of the picture.  But then he shows up in the end, in a role that just doesn’t make a lot of sense.  After all, she always said he was an idiot.  And frankly, it would probably have improved things if instead he turned out not be such a jerk and helped them.  Before getting conveniently killed off, of course.

And it is interesting to note, for all the talk about science early on, in the end, while still rejecting comments about “superstition” and “new age crap”, the solution depends on Lucid Dreaming, complete with candles and pentagrams.

Very scientific.

But then, there was a lot of that sort of thing in Lovecraft, with ancient pagan rituals tying into the powerful aliens known as the Elder Gods.

Oh, well.  But who cares when we get to see a girl battling a skeleton warrior turn into three copies of herself so she can replay the classic scene from Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts?

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