Blu-ray Review: Color Out of Space

STUDIO: RLJ Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Richard Stanley | CAST: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine  Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Tommy Chong, Julian Hilliard
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 25, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $13.99, Blu-ray $14.99
BONUSES: featurette, deleted scenes
SPECS: NR | 111 min. | Science fiction horror drama | 2.39:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

Twenty-three years after he was dismissed from directing The Island of Dr. Moreau with Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer after a few days of shooting,  filmmaker Richard Stanley makes an impressive  return from career purgatory with Color Out Of Space.

Based on the 1927 short story by H.P. Lovecraft (Re-Animator), Color Out of Space shows the South African filmmaker behind such cult faves as Hardware (1990) and Dust Devil (1992) has still got it in terms of exotic storytelling with a penchant for outrageousness.

Grafting horror, science fiction, family drama and environmental dread into one out-there smorgasbord, Color Out of Space showcases Nicolas Cage (Vengeance: A Love Story) as Nathan Gardner, an eccentric society drop-out who has moved with his family to a remote New England farm once owned by his parents to raise alpacas. We’re not kidding.

Wife Joely Richardson (Red Sparrow), a realtor struggling after recent cancer surgery, shares the house with along with a Wicca-worshipping daughter (Madeleine  Arthur, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), a pothead teenage son (Brendan Meyer, The OA) and an inquisitive but lost-in-the-clouds younger kid (Julian Hilliard, The Haunting of Hill House). Add Tommy Chong (Killer Bong) as a stoned-out (what else?) hermit living nearby and you have quite a crew.

After a meteor lands on the premises, strange things start to happen. Electronic signals interrupt phones, distortions disrupt the TV, drinking water looks and tastes funky, insects morph into monstrosities and the animals turn terrifying. Then, Richard and company become affected by the meteorite’s presence and the tainted drinking water, and all hell breaks loose.

The first half of Color Out of Space begins as a slow-burn terror tale, playing creepy and steady for its first half. Some of this section is meandering, but it is also subtly unhinged, hinting at the stunning nightmarish incidents yet to come in the film’s latter half.

Even if he’s playing it relatively straight, it’s become difficult to take Nicolas Cage seriously as a no-nonsense family patriarch: With cinematic breadcrumbs of inner turmoil spread along the way, you just sense he’s going to get combustible at some point. And in Color Out of Space, Cage goes haywire as tensions mount—eventually leaving Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining in the dust with his maniac-on-the-warpath antics. Appropriately grotesque flesh-popping special effects a la John Carpenter’s The Thing work well along with Cage’s surreal unruliness.

As uneven as Color Out of Space is at times, it serves as a good example of what Richard Stanley can deliver in a relatively inexpensive genre piece when allowed to work unencumbered by tight oversight. Terrific reviews, a much-discussed limited theatrical run and lots of enthusiasm by horror hounds will only help Stanley move on to his next project, a new version of the Lovecraft story The Dunwich Horror.

Buy or Rent Color Out of Space

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.