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The Curse of Yig

The Curse of Yig

Starring: Tim Uren, Amy Schweickhardt, Conor Timmis, Dawn Krosnowski
Written by: H.P. Lovecraft, Zealia Bishop, and Tim Uren
Directed by: Paul von Stoetzel
Director of Photography: Joe Johnson
Composer: Scott Keever
Release Date: This move is getting ready to hit the film festival circuit. The SNS staff will be sure to let you know when it is available for sale!

About This Film:
Tim Uren produced The Curse of Yig for the 2009 Minneapolis Fringe Festival with Amy Schweickhardt to rave reviews. Tim has a long history of work with H.P. Lovecraft as he adapted and performed a one man show of Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls numerous times to ecstatic audiences since 2005, as well as performing with Joe Scrimshaw at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival for several years as the bumbling cult team Chuck and Dexter.

Paul von Stoetzel has also had some experience in this realm with his 2006 featurette length film Asleep in the Deep where he adapted the H.P. Lovecraft story The Music of Erich Zann and won numerous awards including the 2006 Brown Jenkin Award at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. Because of their mutual interest and inspiration via Lovecraft it seemed an obvious choice to make this successful play into a film.

The adaptation follows the the general plot of the original story, The Curse of Yig but will follow Tim’s concept of the narrator being a young lady visiting the Asylum instead of a man. This was the original idea because Tim and Amy played duel roles and this allowed the show to be only a two person show. This concept continued into the film adaptation with Tim playing the part of Dr. McNeill/Walker Davis and Amy Schweickhardt as Zealia Bishop/Audrey Davis.

Hello Ghouls and Boils,

Today I am pleased to present my thoughts on Paul von Stoetzel’s newest Lovecraftian film. I met Paul back in 2006 when he came to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival to screen Asleep in the Deep. I just started working full-time for Lurker Films/HPLFF/Arkham Bazaar (I had volunteered prior to this) and a part of my duties was to screen films when they came in. I was immediately impressed with Paul’s work. He had a very unique vision. I had to show Andrew right away!

There was no doubt that Asleep in the Deep would do well with our audience. Our assumptions were correct, the audiences loved it and Paul won a Brown Jenkin Award.

When Paul came to Portland, Oregon for the festival I provided him a couch to surf on. It was great to get to know him on a personal level. Happily, he was just as much of a geek as the rest of us Lurkers!

Paul contacted me last week and asked if I wanted to review his new Lovecraftian piece The Curse of Yig. I did not hesitate — and that brings us up to the present and on to my thoughts on this new flick. Enjoy, my fiends!

Abstrusely,
Sarah L. Covert

PS – Paul is working on another flick. If you are a fan stop by Kickstarter to learn more about it!

I am no stranger to screening Lovecraft/Weird Tales flicks. As I said earlier, it was a big part of my day job (one I miss a good deal) for a couple of years. This is both a good and bad thing. I tend to be more critical than most when it comes to Lovecraft adaptations. That’s why I breathed a sigh of relief after my first viewing of The Curse of Yig. The thought in my head: “Yay, it didn’t suck!”. If I were still working for HPLFF it would have immediately gone in the Yes pile.

As our regular readers know, when it comes to short films and short stories I don’t tend to go into a lot of detail. It is too easy to spoil something that way. I will instead talk about the film as a whole — the folks who worked on the film wrote a great synopsis which I snagged and posted above.

I would like to discuss the mood of the movie first. Director of Photography Joe Johnson did an amazing job of capturing the mood on film. Some of the wide shots are like pieces of art in their own right (see sunset shot above). It is often said in literary circles (and by the author himself) that H.P. Lovecraft’s work is unfilmable. Mr. Johnson proves those people wrong!

This is a period piece, although I should say it actually takes us to more than one place and time. I would like to give a big kudos to Deb Murphy (costume designer), Susie Peterson and Martin Johnson (set decorators), and Nate Courteau (special fx makeup) for doing a spooktacular job of setting the scenes and making it easy for me to slip into the fantasy of the movie without nitpicking. (Yes, I am the kind of person who says — hey they didn’t have maglites until 1979!)

Another thing that adds to the mood of the film is the music. I have seen my share of horror films (big and small) and there are many times when the music takes you out of the movie (for example: the heavy metal in Phenomena). In my opinion, music in film should not distract but help to meld the mood. Scott Keever did a terrorific job scoring this picture with the perfect amount of subtlety and intensity in all the right places.

Next up, the direction and acting… The cast of this film is very small. Ms. Schweickhardt plays three roles and Mr. Uren plays two roles. Including extras, this film only has 17 actors (and only 8 pivotal characters). This can be done really poorly and often appears amateurish. It seems like the director called his buddies with zero acting experience and said let’s make a move. Though, when executed correctly, it can deepen the intrigue and also showcase the talent of the actors who play multiple parts. Thank the Elder Gods this film took the latter path. Paul von Stoetzel got excellent performances out of each of his actors.

As a shout out to Lurkers everywhere, director Paul von Stoetzel used his Brown Jenkin award as a prop! I had to laugh when I saw the camera focus on the statue.

This little film was done with love and reverence to the original piece of literature. I’d be willing to bet Mr. Lovecraft would have enjoyed this adaptation.

My only minor nitpick is one of the actors mispronounced Samhain (it is sowin not sam hane), but I easily got past that. I would like to throw in an additional bit of kudos for the use of the word squamish.

Final Thoughts:
Paul von Stoetzel, Tim Uren, and the rest of the crew did a phantastic job of adapting this classic story. I watched it twice for the review and Henry and I plan on watching it together again for the sheer pleasure of watching it. I am a big fan of Paul’s work (genre related, documentary, and other) and all I can say is to keep the good stuff coming! I highly recommend this film to any fan of H.P. Lovecraft or of subtle horror. If you hear that it is appearing at a film festival near you, you cannot miss the opportunity to see it on the big screen! If it doesn’t come to a theatre near you, don’t worry. I will be sure to let you all know when it becomes available on DVD. I bet you can probably guess by the tenor of this review, what my rating will be – but I will tell you anyway! I give this brilliant flick an easy 5 out of 5 tentacles! Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!

Sarah L. Covert– Creator/Editor/Reviewer/Columnist

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