Panic Fest 2020 | Jan 24 - 30 2020 | KCMO

REVIEW: Color Out of Space is Gonzo

Color Out of Space
Credit: RLJE Films

Sometimes a film needs no synopsis. Sometimes a film just needs the names of the people involved to become compelling. For instance:

H.P. Lovecraft

Richard Stanley

Tommy Chong

Nicolas Cage

Reading more like some weird drinking game to incrementally increase weirdness than actual movie credits, the film needs nothing else to demand to be seen. IMDB even barely pauses at the synopsis, listing it as “A town struck by a meteorite and the fallout is catastrophic.”

So add meteorite to the list:

H.P. Lovecraft

Richard Stanley

Tommy Chong

Nicolas Cage

Meteorite

This movie is going to be watched.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this film, though, is that the narrative somehow sticks together and mostly works. Despite clunky dialogue, strange dangling plot points, and scenes that accomplish nothing more than a shrug, this film works.

The chaotic good of the afore mentioned pieces holds this film together through pure insanity and weirdness. It confuses and confounds to the point that the experience rises above the obvious narrative and logistic problems of the film.

Color Out of Space
Credit: RLJE Films

It’s quite impressive. An audience member watches, mouth agape, trying to understand and take everything in until the credits roll, and they stumble out of the theater. It is only hours later that the questions start appearing, that the insanity fades enough to see the flimsiness of the actual movie. The synopsis above is short, but it is apt. That is all the film approaches and confronts.

Despite introducing several characters and their associated, assumed, plot points the film has no interest in following its own blueprint. The dots laid out are not connected. And by the pure gonzo efforts of the original Lovecraft story, Stanley, and Cage is enough for the audience to never notice or care.

Speaking of Cage, Nicolas Cage is in full ‘Nicolas Cage’ mode here. He eats up so much dialogue and scenery with such frenetic energy, his force is enough to distract and amaze on its own. Let’s just say that after watching this I have not been able to stop myself from muttering “AL-PAC-A!” from time to time with a grin.

Color Out of Space
Credit: RLJE Films / Spectrevision / XYZ Films / Ace Pictures

It is not Cage alone, though. Stanley brings the same effects/visuals from his early work, and the same energy of the man who hid in the jungle after being fired from a film. Add to this the occasional Tommy Chong, as well as the Lovecraft source material, and you have a wild tapestry of shifting stimulation that the audience is blasted with such a sensory experience that it makes no difference if the story itself makes sense or pays off any setups. It just is. It is colors, it is madness, it is cinematic dadaism.

So, see it in a theater if you can. If you can’t, watch it on the biggest screen you can, in the dark, volume up, and let the experience just happen. Don’t use logic, don’t use the rational part of observation, simply marvel in what flashes across the screen. 

Simply let this film happen.

More Stories
Alamo Drafthouse Rolls out “King-Size Summer” Programming Leading Up to ‘It: Chapter Two’