As with many Lovecraft tales, whether print or visual, there is as everyday nondescript beginning that sets the framework and this story does not disappoint. Our average writer takes up residence in a run-of-the-mill boardinghouse, run by the requisite nosy house lady. She plants the seed about the man upstairs and while Randolph goes about his business I think to myself that such a faithful reconstruction of the story may or may not do a service to the original written word as the master constructed it. There lies here an uneasiness that has nothing to do with the actual story unfolding in front of me. But that may be a tale for another day!
When Randolph survives a near fatal heart attack via the help of the man upstairs, elderly Dr. Munoz, we find he is made up of mystery and stories that seem antiquated even by his lifespan. We also learn that he keeps his room quite cold with what must very well be the first ever air conditioner. As the kind doctor converses about life, time, and loves lost there is something obviously unusual here. That is all forgotten when his machine breaks and is need of repair and Doctor Munoz elicits the help of Randolph to find a repairman as quickly as possible. As with many things in life the help was too late and we discover the depth of the doctor’s secret and it send one’s thoughts spinning off into conjecture about human will and the fine line of existence!
That’s the thing about such a faithful reconstruction of Lovecraft, it possesses such implicit after-story and the fact that the original was a short work by Lovecraft makes this almost quaint in its impact with the back story or after-story. It would actually fit in well with Rod Serling as a Twilight Zone episode. And in that comparison, I think for me, it shows that my Lovecraft esteem is not as reverent as many. Perhaps the fact that Rod Serling who obviously took some inspiration from the master of macabre in his career and the fact that he comes quickly to mind shows that either I am not an adequate aficionado for the author, or that this was indeed a relatively tepid on-screen re-telling of the original story. Either way, it was thought provoking, though not very compelling. Perhaps that is curse of a modern viewer such as myself. If I had been a fan earlier in the century, I may have been riveted, but alas it was a different time.
I hope the extra time Dr Munoz enjoyed was worth the pursuit of it!
Better luck Next Time.