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STUDIO: Lurker Films, Inc
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 100 Minutes
· Subtitles in English, French, German, Finnish, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese
· Documentary on Robert W. Chambers
· Bonus footage of audition, slides, and deleted scenes
· Short films The King in Yellow and Tupilak
· 8-page full color booklet on the films and Robert W. Chambers
“Let’s find some sub-par filmmakers, and have them do adaptations of Robert Chambers’ short stories!” “Whose Robert Chambers?” “Who knows!”
Shawna Waldron, Dale Snowberger, David Reynolds
Can you imagine what she’d look like if she really was Rick Moranis’ daughter?
The Yellow Sign is the main attraction of this DVD, but it also is host to two other short films Tupilak and The King In Yellow. All the films are based on the short stories of Robert Chambers, who is most notable only because he influenced H.P. Lovecraft’s writing. The Yellow Sign is the modernized story of Tess Reardon, a down on her luck gallery owner who has been having nightmares. She visits the reclusive and eccentric painter Aubrey Scott, in hopes of booking him for a show at her gallery, only to realize that his paintings are what keep appearing in her dreams. Throw in some ghosts, a large scary man, and we’ve got a horror story. Oh, and there’s a yellow sign thrown in there.
Tupilak is about two friends who abandon their Indian tour guide in the woods to die. Two years later, a spirit the guide conjured up is out for revenge. The King In Yellow is apparently the first of many short films of the same name that explore who and what The King In Yellow actually is.
Director Aaron Vanek took the advice "shoot the script" a little too literally.
The Yellow Sign tries really hard to be a convincing Lovecraftian horror movie. And without a doubt, on some levels, it absolutely does. The only problem with this is that it’s NOT a Lovecraft tale. It’s based on Robert Chamber’s short story of the same name. And whilst the two were friends and had very similar writing styles, this film tries to hard to be something that it’s not.
Having read the original story, I was very happy with how faithful this adaptation was. Sure, it was modernized for today’s audiences, but the basic core of the story was still there. The one problem I did have with this version was the extreme lack of the actual yellow sign. Of course, it was in the film, but it felt more like a ‘special guest appearance by the yellow sign’ type of role. As an adaptation, I know films often leave out certain things to make it more suitable for the screen. However, as a viewer, I felt cheated out of learning a little more of the sign’s back-story.
The pacing of the film is absolutely perfect: slow, drawn-out reveals are what makes stories like this work. That being said, the slow pace is sure to lose some viewers. If you’re not into deep philosophical discussions, this is not the film for you. In fact, if you’re looking for a psychological tale of horror, much like I was, you are definitely not going to enjoy this. The problem is not that the film isn’t well made, because it is. For the budget they had, it’s very well done. The problem is that I was bored. We don’t get to know Tess well enough to care about what happens to her. For such a slow moving film, they seemed to have rushed over any sort of character development. And the big revelation at the end of the film seems more like a passing thought rather than a big “Dun Dun DUN!” moment that they expected it to be.
Special Guest Star: Clint Howard.
Shawna Waldron (Tess), best known to us as “Ice Box” from Little Giants, was actually a pretty decent actress. She kind of surprised me with her performance, and I really enjoyed her in this. Dale Snowberger (Aubrey), however, not so much. He doesn’t seem very suited to play this part. He gets the creepiness across without a problem, but I had a hard time believing his sinister side. David Reynolds (Ghost-keeper) does such an excellent Tor Johnson impression the entire film that I half expected Vampira to pop up behind him at some point.
The cover art is catchy to the eye, with a montage of photos from the film. The problem is that about half these photos are from scenes that we don’t ever see. Speaking of things we don’t see, there are supposed to be deleted scenes somewhere on the DVD, but they seemed to have disappeared! Man, I hate it when that happens. There are, how plenty of other features.
The Yellow Sign is supplemented by two audio commentaries: one by director Aaron Vanek and the other by cast members Shawna Waldron and Dale Snowberger. Aaron’s commentary shows that he has a lot of love for Chamber’s original story, and was very passionate about the making of this film. Very informative and interesting. The cast member commentary is more of the ‘Hey, I remember when we did this scene, it was raining’ sort. There is also a slideshow of stills from the film, and Snowberger’s original audition footage.
You’re going to hate this hallway. Trust me.
Tupilak and The King In Yellow are technically listed as extras on the DVD, but they are both short films that, for better or worse, stand out in their own way. Tupilak is an entirely effective and creepy tale by David Leroy that, dare I say, was much better than The Yellow Sign. Every shot was beautiful, the acting was superb, and was one of the best short films I have ever seen. The King In Yellow, however, felt more like someone bought a video camera and decided to run around a hospital with it. Also included is Chambers In Paris, a short documentary that is probably only of interest to die-hard Robert Chambers fans.
It was still very interesting to learn about the author’s years in Paris, and how they influenced the short stories that are represented on this DVD.
As for how the films themselves look, it’s sort of a mixed bag. The Yellow Sign has a terrible transfer: the colors are all washed out, and it sometimes very hard to see what exactly is going on. Tupilak looks beautiful with rich colors, and no graininess. And for a film shot on video, The King In Yellow looks pretty damn good, too. The sound mixing was pretty decent as well, as the films were all equipped with 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby surround sound. All considered, it’s an OK offering. It might be worth a weekend rental.