Saturday, November 26, 2011
The Narrative of Victor Karloch: Haunted Horrors in Miniature
A friend of mine just let me know about a movie project that sounds like a unique exercise in the genre of horror: The Narrative of Victor Karloch, by Spirit Cabinet.
According to the Spirit Cabinet site, "Victor Karloch is a Victorian ghost story puppet film and live stage performance (at selected theaters) produced by Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams Films and The Jim Henson Foundation. ... The film incorporates 30" tall bunraku-style rod puppets, shadow puppetry, traditional in-camera effects, and digital atmospheric effects to present a gothic tale narrated by Victor Karloch, an alchemist, ghost hunter, and scholar who has devoted his life to the exploration of the supernatural." Victor Karloch was written by Kevin McTurk, a special effects artist whose previous projects include Batman Returns, Jurassic Park, and King Kong, and it will feature the vocal talents of Christopher Lloyd, Chris Parnell, Lance Henriksen, and Doug Jones.
Judging from the preview trailer on the Spirit Cabinet site, Victor Karloch looks like it's going to be a rich visual treat for horror film fans. Since puppet films are so rare in the U.S. as it is, it's hard to think of a horror film that's performed completely by puppets and miniatures. Yet as the trailer shows, this particular production scale, along with the puppets' physical details and movements, add a distinct sense of dread and disorientation that most live-action horror films lack. Such an unusual approach to telling a cinematic horror tale reminds me of the 2005 film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story, "The Call of Cthulhu". That film, which was produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman and distributed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, was produced in a way so that it would appear as if it were a monochrome silent film from 1926, the year when Lovecraft's story was first published. Between Victor Karloch and the Cthulhu adaptation, it seems that unusual tales are best told in unusual ways in order to maximize their impact on audiences.