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Film

Fantasia Two Weeks In, Thereabouts

Posted by Christine / July 30, 2011

20110730-burkeandhare.jpg(Attention: spoilers)

Horror is something that can rely alone on human fear of the unknown. It portrays something unnatural, a perversion to this world, be it grotesque monsters or human evil thought to be impossible. Lovecraft surpassed this. He had a singular skill in being able to give the supernatural intimate entry to man's psyche. Not only were his science fiction creatures from worlds beyond, but he revealed that they had been with humans all along, intelligible in the hidden depths of their minds.

"There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we learn and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life," said H.P. Lovecraft.

A while ago I watched The Call of Cthulhu, a 2005 offering produced by Sean Branney. It is a silent film adaptation of Lovecraft's most famous story, which harmonized vintage and modern filming techniques. The result is a beautifully crafted 1920s-style film boasting subtle yet effective contemporary flourishes.

This time around Branney directed. The Whisper In The Darkness, which screened at Fantasia July 26th, was also an adaptation of a Lovecraft short story that embodied similar vintage charms. It was a talkie, and thusly had the advantage of H.P. Lovecraft's exceptional way with words brought to one's ears.

I loved it.

Burke and Hare screened at Fantasia the day after. It was introduced by its very charismatic director, John Landis, who simultaneously accepted Fantasia's Lifetime Achievement Award. Landis is best known for such works as: An American Werewolf in London, Animal House, Coming to America, Three Amigos, The Blues Brothers and Trading Places. He also directed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video. Yeah.

Landis returned after a dozen-year hiatus to create this wonderful film. It has a star-studded cast consisting of: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and Christopher Lee.

Usually handled as horror, Landis transformed the true tale of grave robbers turned murders Burke and Hare into a period piece black comedy. Pegg and Serkis have believable chemistry as best pals, bumbling into their crimes using techniques of slapstick, gags and word-play the whole way through. However, the protagonists are also given a gentler human side by exposing their financial insecurities and well-intentioned romantic desires, both of which are temporarily amended by their decision to murder and sell the bodies to the medical community.

Stay tuned for next week's Fantasia update!

Image from: Spectacular Attractions

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