Tuesday, February 15, 2011

H.P. Lovecrafts' Dark Heritage

H.P. Lovecrafts' Dark Heritage


Jay Agan

As with the majority of fans of H.P. Lovecraft, I've found most film adaptations of his works to be less than merely lacking. Many were downright pathetic and laughable. Excessively altering and straying too much from the story, new characters and generally everyone putting in their own "touches". This is because most of the authors' works were short stories and thus not really suited for feature length films. Made for crappy cinema at best.

Up until the fan made Call of Cthulhu (Not only the best but 100% faithful and one of four worth watching.), the best you could hope for were The Dunwich Horror and Die, Monster, Die! (And only because Boris Karloff is in that one.) I exclude the ones made by the Band family. Barbara Crampton's fun to watch but I can't see them as Lovecraft. The fourth one (Marketed by Passion Productions.) I stumbled on in a now defunct dollar store in Delaware, Ohio.

 Dark Heritage the Final Deccendant is pretty much a low budget affair. Certainly looks it and yet I've found it more entertaining and interesting than most previous attempts at Lovecraft. Based (uncredited) on his short story The Lurking Fear, it's a not bad little thriller. Yes, it has some extra "stuff" and characters to pad it out and an added surprise ending (Which isn't bad as it's "Lovecraftian" in its own way.). The location was changed from the Catskills of New York to Louisiana. It still sticks to the basic plot of the story however. H. P.s' stories were narrative and research oriented and this film at least gives more than a nod to the research part.

Both film and story are centered around an investigator (In the film, a newspaper reporter.) looking into the history of a presumably extinct family and its' connection to a series of bloody mass killings. Killings that happen when thunderstorms are raging. Turns out the family isn't extinct but has degenerated into an incest perpetuated group of underground dwelling troglodytes. Thunder drives them "up from under" and they go on the prowl.

This seems to be one of those "regional" productions. (1968s' Night of the Living Dead could fall into this category.) Very location bound with several sets of last names in the cast. Lotsa relatives contributed to the making of this film.

Dark Heritage has the lowest production values I've ever seen in a Lovecraft adaptation. This is more than made up for in its' faithfulness to the source material. For that it's more than good enough for me to have as a keeper.

Article copyright © 2-15-2011 Jay Agan

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