Another no-budget Lovecraft adaptation, and, if you can get past the
tacky digital photography, a pretty strong one.
This film was inspired by two H.P. Lovecraft tales,
“Pickman’s Model” (1927) and “The Haunter of the Dark” (1935). The first
is a straightforward tale about an art dealer terrified by the horrific
paintings of a talented artist named Pickman--who, it transpires, paints
from life rather than imagination. The second concerns a writer who
finds himself drawn to an unearthly cathedral housing a particularly
The writer, co-producer, director and editor of this
2009 project was Robert Cappelletto, who previously made the sci fi
short “To Oblivion.” As for PICKMAN’S MUSE, it’s already won several
awards at various festivals, including the prestigious Oregon-based H.P.
Lovecraft Film Festival.
Pickman is a painter steadily losing interest in his
art. He finds inspiration only after studying a weird cathedral visible
from his apartment window. Pickman paints the building and tries to sell
the result, but his dealer believes it’s an imitation of a painting by a
serial killer/artist named Goodie--who claims, from his current post in
a mental hospital, that he painted from life, not imagination.
As for Pickman, he’s inexorably drawn toward the
cathedral he glimpsed, and in its depths he finds a box he unwisely
opens. From there he finds himself back in his apartment, where an
unseen presence awaits him, promising “there’s so much more to see” if
he’ll just sign his name. This he does on one of his paintings. A bit
later the landlady and her daughter unexpectedly turn up, and are
horrified by one of Pickman’s just-finished paintings.
Pickman pays a visit to Goodie in the mental hospital
to inquire “what they want from me.” Goodie encourages him to continue
painting, which Pickman does…but he also invites a young woman to his
apartment with the intention of scooping out her eyeballs!
The scope and subject matter of H.P. Lovecraft’s
“Pickman’s Model” and “The Haunter of The Dark” are extremely ambitious
for a no-budget production like PICKMAN’S MUSE.
Director/screenwriter/cinematographer Robert Cappelletto didn’t entirely
rise to the challenge, but did a pretty good job nonetheless.
His film (cheap digital photography aside) is a
handsome-looking production with many striking images. Wisely, we’re
never actually shown the horrific pictures Pickman paints, which is
entirely appropriate (there’s no way to visually convey the sense of
unspeakable horror they’re supposed to contain), while the overall
atmosphere of languid, muted terror (there are lots of dissolves) is
The serial killer angle is, I feel, a misstep in an
otherwise thoroughly Lovecraftian film, which in its best moments
captures a hint of the cosmic horror Lovecraft communicated so
brilliantly. The largely amateur cast isn’t terribly inspiring overall,
and the music score is a bit over-insistent for my tastes, but there are
enough good things in PICKMAN’S MUSE to warrant a definite
Director/Screenwriter/Cinematographer/Editor: Robert Cappelletto
Producers: Robert Cappelletto, Eddie Morillon
Cast: Barret Walz, Maurice McNicholas, Tom Lodewyck, Joyce Porter, Mike
Dobray, Edy Cullen, Steve Leamy, Jeff Yaezel, Eddie Morillon, Terrence
E. Ward, Jeff Christian, Mark Weidling, Fredrick Stone