“Color Out of Space,” apparently, is blindingly bright and magnificently malevolent. In this bonkers yet weirdly beautiful science fiction-horror hybrid (directed, with retro panache, by the great Richard Stanley), the light is a throbbing lilac and blood is Schiaparelli pink. And if I tell you that Nicolas Cage’s eyeballs will turn into ultraviolet high-beams, then you’ll know immediately if you’re in or out.
Lovers of aberrant, gooey B-movies will be all in. Cage plays Nathan, a gentleman farmer who can show you how to whip up a cassoulet or milk an alpaca. Nathan’s main preoccupations are lingering daddy issues and a stalled sex life resulting from the recent illness of his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson). But just as that particular dry spell is breaking, a meteorite crashes into their front yard, its crater releasing poisonous, multihued energy that alters DNA in disgustingly inventive ways. And when Theresa’s body begins a seeming attempt to suck the youngest of their three children back into the womb, an increasingly unhinged Nathan becomes convinced that only family solidarity will save them.
Based on a 1929 short story by H.P. Lovecraft, “Color Out of Space” has more going on than just the squishy satisfactions of its old-school creature effects (reminiscent of Rob Bottin’s ingenious work on John Carpenter’s “The Thing”). Using shape-shifting as a messy metaphor for sickness and childhood trauma, Stanley and Cage leap so far over the psychological top that they never come back to earth. By the end, my own eyeballs hadn’t changed color, but they must have looked like pinwheels.
Color Out of Space
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 51 minutes.