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Archive for April, 2016

Guy Fawkes – from Religious Terrorist to the Face of Anonymous Protest (Part Two)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 24, 2016

Babble CategoryGuy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent – To blow up the King and Parli’ment.

Having dealt with the history of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot in Part One, I will now turn my attention to how this turn-of-the 17th century English fanatical religious terrorist, wannabe-assassin and potential mass-murderer become the 21st Century’s face of world-wide protest, anarchy and anonymity? There are numerous reasons of course but principle among them are an annual national bonfire night used for the burning of effigies of hated figures,  a 19th century historical romance, a late 20th century cult comic book, a 21st century super-hero movie and a loose collective of anonymous activists, hacktivists, anarchists and protest movements.

What is Guy Fawkes Day (or Night) – is it Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night?

In the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, King James I’s Council allowed the celebration of its thwarting and the saving of the King by the lighting of bonfires without any danger or  disorder. The Observance of 5th November Act 1605, also known as the Thanksgiving Act, was passed in Parliament on the 23rd of January 1606 and it made the celebrations a public annual thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. Needless to say Gunpowder Treason Day (as it was at first known) provided Protestant preachers an ideal occasion to deliver anti-Catholic sermons to their parishioners but also it was used as an excuse for sanctioned public festive drinking and processions as well as for the lighting of bonfires and small explosives. Another, more sensible, tradition was started because of the Gunpowder plot (and is still carried out today) – that of searching the cellars of Parliament by the Yeoman of the Guard before its ceremonial opening.

Bonfire Night at Windsor Castle in 1776

Bonfire Night at Windsor Castle in 1776

In 1626, at the age of 17 and while still an undergraduate at Christ’s College – Cambridge, John Milton wrote his epic poem In Quintum Novembris (On the Fifth of November) about the Gunpowder Plot and featuring Satan as a character – foreshadowing his later, and much more accomplished, Paradise Lost. The name Guy Fawkes does not appear in its verses and in fact, in this highly mytholigised version of the then recent historical events, it is Satan himself who calls a cabal of devils, including the Pope, to carry out the evil plot fated to end in failure and with the God of Protestantism laughing at the futility of the Catholic evildoers. Though essentially a school exercise in Latin the work was first published in a collection of his Latin verse printed in 1645.

By the time of the English Civil War (1642–1651), Gunpowder Treason Day was still being being celebrated but increasingly it was being referred to as simply Bonfire Night. Effigies of hated figures started appearing (usually of Guy Fawkes or the Pope), they were paraded around local areas in masked procession before being set on top of a large bonfire and ceremoniously burnt with the pyre. Not surprisingly, during the English Interregnum (1649-60, the years between the execution of Charles I and the restoration of the monarchy with Charles II) the now less formal annual day of thanks became more a celebration of the saving of parliamentary government and of Protestantism than of the saving of a monarch.

Three-score barrels of powder below – To prove old England’s overthrow;

After the Restoration, Charles II tried to return the celebrations of the 5th to a more formal monarchist purpose but the people of the land were inexorably drawn to the more diverse and anarchistic (but still very much anti-Catholic) elements of the fire festival. Bans on bonfires and fireworks tried to quell the often raucous festivities and on numerous occasions militias were called in to suppress the more boisterous of the commoners’ excesses. When James II (the last Catholic monarch of England) came to the throne in 1685 the attempts to suppress anti-Catholic sentiment moved to the fore-front – but still to little avail.

As the years (and centuries) rolled on Bonfire Night (always its common name) survived various bans of bonfires and fireworks – and many attempts to quell the mayhem caused by commoners, often relishing the anonymity provided by the wearing of a mask, who increasingly saw the event as a release valve for relieving tension and bringing a little chaotic freedom by railing against the often heavily imposed order of the day. By the 18th Century Gunpowder Treason Day had, officially at least,  become Guy Fawkes Day with the custom of burning masked effigies of Fawkes and other notorious personalities and perceived enemies of the people  (now all increasingly referred to as Guys) remaining a focus of the celebrations.

A masked Guy being paraded on Guy Fawkes Night, 1868.

A masked Guy being paraded on Guy Fawkes Night, 1868.

The 19th Century saw the overtly anti-Catholic aspect of the annual fire festival finally begin to wane, by 1826 British Catholics were allowed to vote again and had been awarded greater civil rights.  The focus of the 5th shifted more resolutely to a rebellious vilifying of unpopular celebrity or political figures of the day.  And, though organised civil celebrations continued in many villages, towns and cities throughout this period, people also started to have smaller family and friends type celebrations with their own small-scale bonfires (with or without Guys) and the celebratory firing of bought or home-made fireworks. In the run-up to the big night it became common for, often masked, groups of children to roam the streets with there own little effigies ready for the burning, collecting pennies to fund their personal bonfire and fireworks blow-outs. To this day, in the days between Halloween and Bonfire Night, you still get children hanging around outside pubs asking all comers (and usually asking again all leavers) “Penny for the Guy, Mister (or Missus)?” – while proudly displaying their own particular attempt at constructing a barely recognizable humanoid Guy.

As the national anti-Catholic sentiment declined so softened the popular attitudes to Gay Fawkes himself. Despite the fact he sought to overthrow one intolerant religious monarchy and replace it with a another, even more intolerant one, he was increasingly seen in a more sympathetic light. A romantacised rebel supporting the plight of the common people rather than a fanatical and religiously intolerant terrorist. This might largely be due to the publication of the 1840 historical romance Guy Fawkes by William Harrison Ainsworth which cast Fawkes as an adventurous, but tragic, hero who was honour bound to embark on a doomed course of events. Between 1840 and 1878 the hugely popular tale – mixing fictional and Gothic elements in with the historical – was published twice as a serial and seven times as a novel, one of which was a 3-volume set illustrated by George Cruikshank. Almost immediately, versions of Ainsworth’s novel were adapted as stage plays and the now more acceptable character of Guy Fawkes, with the more “commoner-friendly” elements of the Gunpowder plot, even started appearing in pantomimes with the likes of Harlequin and Pantaloon, and went on to numerous appearances in penny dreadfuls and children’s adventure books.

By God’s providence he was catch’d – With a dark lantern and burning match.

Guy Fawkes effigies and collectors, all masked, 1903, by John Benjamin Stone.

Guy Fawkes effigies and collectors, all masked, 1903, by John Benjamin Stone.

Into the 20th century pyrotechnic manufacturers cottoned on quickly to a growing mass market for their goods and their advertisements started to refer to the night of the 5th as Fireworks Night – marking yet another old and popular festival or holiday being co-opted (and sanitised) by the greed of modern commercialisation – even to the point of large numbers of cheap cardboard or paper Guy Fawkes masks being sold to children or “gifted for free” with children’s comics. The softened and more populist characterisation of Guy Fawkes also started appearing in a different kind of light show – the movies. He was depicted on film as early as 1913, played by Caleb Porter in the silent British movie Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot directed by Ernest G. Batley, and then again in 1923, played by Matheson Lang in another silent picture Guy Fawkes directed by Maurice Elvey. The latter an adaptation of Ainsworth’s influential 1840 novel. Guy Fawkes made regular appearances on British TV in dramas and dramatised scenes for historical documentaries as well as often turning up (in parody) on comedy sketch shows and children’s TV shows. Somewhat bizarrely, the only other movie depiction of Guy Fawkes in the 20th century (that I could find on the IMDB) was played by Bill Maynard in the historical comedy Carry on Henry directed by Gerald Thomas in 1971.

Although a well known and recognisable character in Britain for hundreds of years, Guy Fawkes – as an historical and then fictional figure – barely registered a blip on the cultural RADAR screens of even the ex-colonies let alone the rest of the world. Or at least that’s the way it was until a slow burning fuse was lit by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd in 1982 when the British anthology comic Warrior started the troubled and protracted publication of the pair’s black-and-white cult comic strip V for Vendetta.  Unfortunately Warrior was cancelled in 1985, two episodes short of publishing the complete Moore and Lloyd strip. The mantle was taken up by DC Comics in 1988 with the publication of a ten-issue series that reprinted the Warrior stories in colour and continued the series to completion. Within two years the tale was reprinted in graphic-novel format, in the US by the DC Vertigo imprint and in the UK by Titan Books. In 1999 The Comics Journal ran a poll on “The Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the 20th Century” and V for Vendetta reached 83rd place.

Buy the V for Vendetta graphic novel at Amazon.com

V wearing a stylised Guy Fawkes mask and costume in the comic book V for Vendetta.

Set in the late 1990s, V for Vendetta depicts a dystopian and post-apocalyptic near-future Britain ruled as a police state by a fascist regime (and is heavily indebted to George Orwell’s 1984). The titular protagonist, V, is a masked vigilante, anarchist and revolutionary dressed in a stylised Guy Fawkes costume. Starting on Bonfire Night, 1997, the story follows his elaborate, theatrical and explosive campaign to murder his former captors who experimented on him, bring down the fascist government that allowed it, and convince the people to take back the power and rule themselves… all while training a young protégé, Eve, and all by the Bonfire Night of 1998. Aswell as continuing the re-invention of the fictional Guy Fawkes character started by Ainsworth in 1840, it repackages and updates the whole story of the people’s revolutionary into a dark, politically and intellectually astute, Batman-like super-hero story fit for mass consumption and world wide appeal. All that was needed was a slick, glossy big-budget movie adaptation. It came in 2006.

Directed by James McTeigue, written and produced by The Wachowski siblings and starring Hugo Weaving as V, with Natalie Portman as Eve and Stephen Rea as Finch, the detective leading the investigation into V’s activities… oh, and Clive Ashborn as Guy Fawkes himself – seen in the (not exactly accurate) opening sequences looking back at the historical character. Although still set in Britain, Warner Brothers‘ movie of V for Vendetta transposes the timeline to the late 2020s and in many ways Americanises the political conflict by switching it from a very British narrative of anarchism against fascism to a more American style conflict of liberalism against right-wing neo-conservatism. The anarchistic and morally ambivalent aspects of V’s character are toned down to make him a more acceptable hero figure for American audiences. It was less a criticism of Thatcherite politics in early 80s Britain and more a criticism of the Bush-era politics of America in the early 2000s. That said, it is still a largely faithful adaptation of Moore and Lloyd’s comic book and although Moore disowned all connections with it (as he has done with all big screen adaptations of his work) Lloyd embraced it saying, “if you enjoyed the original and can accept an adaptation that is different to its source material but equally as powerful, then you’ll be as impressed as I was with it”. The film renewed interest in Moore and Lloyd’s original story, and sales of the graphic novel – now available in hardback – rose dramatically in the USA.

Buy the movie V for Vendetta (2006) Blu-Ray

A scene from the movie V for Vendetta (2006)

The movie, like the comic book before it, initially met with a very mixed critical reception and its controversial story line dealing with themes of anarchism, terrorism, totalitarianism, religious and racial intolerance and homophobia has proved problematic for many sociopolitical groups. right-wing groups complained of its apparent promotion of anarchism and terrorism while anarchist groups complained that it had watered down the original’s political message for the sake of commercial Hollywood violence and flashy special effects. But over time the movie, like the comic, has become a popular favourite and it too has achieved a certain level of cult status. In 2008 Empire magazine named the film the 418th greatest movie of all time.

Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring – Holla boys, Holla boys, BURN ‘im ‘n’ sing!

Members of the group Anonymous wearing Guy Fawkes masks at a protest against the Church of Scientology in London, 2008.

Members of the group Anonymous wearing Guy Fawkes masks at a protest against the Church of Scientology in London, 2008.

The movie V for Vendetta was released in the USA on the 17th of March, 2006. Merchandising and promotional items included replicas of the Guy Fawkes mask used in the movie. Within a month these stylised Guy Fawkes masks based on David Lloyd’s original design (or close approximations to it) started to be worn by protesters in demonstrations. On the 17th of April that year, outside the New York City offices of Warner Brothers and DC Comics, the odd spectacle arose of anarchist freegan demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks – protesting the perceived misrepresentation of the Anarchist movement in the movie – being met with by a counter demonstration of libertarians wearing Guy Fawkes masks (possibly supplied by Warner Brothers themselves) – protesting the protesters.

Late in September of 2006 a minor Internet meme of a stick-figure known as “Epic Fail Guy” (or EFG) started appearing on the online message-board and image-board 4chan. Very soon EFG was wearing a V for Vendetta style Guy Fawkes mask – presumably because Guy Fawkes failed in carrying out the Gunpowder Plot (an epic fail indeed) – and the internet meme started to get more traction and spread out of its 4chan confines. Anonymous, the ad-hoc group of Internet users who are often associated with various hacktivist operations, also has its origins in 4chan, which launched in late 2003 as an anonymous online community that doesn’t require registration and where all users not choosing to use a nickname are displayed as “Anonymous” – and thus perpetuating the notion that users of the site are part of a group called Anonymous – not a single person but a collective (or hive) of users.

In January 2008 the online (or cyberspace) collective known as Anonymous, started using the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask in its first offline, or real world (meatspace), operation Project Chanology – a series of protests directed against the Church of Scientology. The use of these masks by Anonymous was ostensibly a reference to EFG, they were using it to suggest that Scientology was an epic fail, but it seems more likely that there was a much more practical purpose – preventing the famously litigious and snap-happy scam “Church” from photographing faces and identifying individuals. As the protests continued, more and more protesters started using the masks and it soon became a symbolic “face” for the anonymous group online as well as in the real world. Alan Moore, a self professed anarchist, said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2008, “I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.”

Buy a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask on Amazon.com

A protestor wearing a V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask.

The V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask was adopted by many more protest groups in the following years. In Britain, on 23 May 2009, a group protesting the MPs’ expenses scandal exploded a fake barrel of gunpowder outside Parliament while wearing the masks. The mask became very popular internationally with the Occupy Movement that evolved from the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. It appeared in Poland in January 2012 during protests against the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a multinational treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. In June 2012 demonstrators wore the mask in Mumbai, India, protesting against the Indian Government’s censorship of the Internet and in 2013 a number of Persian Gulf states were forced to impose (an ultimately futile) ban on the sale of the mask as it started appearing in demonstrations that were part of the ongoing “Arab Spring” movement. It has been used in numerous anti-government protests in countries as diverse as Thailand, Egypt or Turkey and Brazil or Venezuela.

I think we can best sum up this article with the words of the mask’s designer, David Lloyd:

“The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I’m happy with people using it, it seems quite unique, an icon of popular culture being used this way. My feeling is the Anonymous group needed an all-purpose image to hide their identity and also symbolise that they stand for individualism – V for Vendetta is a story about one person against the system.”

Buy a Guy Fawkes Mask on Amazon.com

Buy William Harrison Ainsworth’s Guy Fawkes novel at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta graphic novel at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta movie on DVD at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta movie on Blu-ray at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk

Buy the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask at Amazon.com or at Amazon.co.uk.

Brought to you by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: Re-Animator (1985)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 22, 2016

 The Lovecraftian CategoryRe-Animator (Stuart Gordon, USA. 1985)

An adaptation of (the first two parts of) H. P. Lovecraft‘s short story Herbert West – Reanimator but updated to a more contemporary setting and infused throughout with some very campy and decidedly black humour. All the actors involved play it entirely straight and the dry jokes are delivered so dead-pan that it just makes this movie even funnier.

UK movie poster for Re-Animator (1985)

UK movie poster for Re-Animator (1985)

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a very intense, dedicated and some-what weird medical student who comes to the Miskatonic University in New England in order to further his studies after an unfortunate incident at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, resulting in a(n un)dead professor, caused him to leave there rather unceremoniously.

West rents a room and basement space (for his experiments) from fellow student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) who eagerly takes him in for the extra income and despite his girl-friend Megan Halsey (Barbara Crampton)’s reservations that West is too “creepy” for a house-mate. Soon after, Dan’s pet cat Rufus goes missing so he and Megan search the house top to bottom and finally find its corpse in West’s refrigerator… along with some mysterious vials of strangely glowing green liquid. Dan later confronts West about the dead cat and West explains that the cat was already dead when he found it but didn’t want Dan or Megan finding it in such a condition so he refrigerated it till he could break the bad news to them gently.

Dan then asks West to explain the green liquid and West tells him that it is the result of his ongoing experiments to find a cure for death itself. Dan, of course, is sceptical so West proves the efficacy of his “reagent” by injecting it into the dead cat. Rufus is reanimated and immediately goes crazy – attacking them both – so they kill the cat a second time. Both shocked and exited by this event Dan agrees to assist West in his experiments and the pair decide to try to perfect the reagent by experimenting on corpses stored in the University’s morgue. The chaos resulting from this experiment causes the medical school’s Dean Halsey (Robert Sampson), Megan’s father, to stumble into the pair in the morgue but the Dean is killed by a reanimated corpse – which West re-kills with a bone-saw.

Realising the Dean’s corpse is the freshest they’re likely to get, West injects it with the reagent and it too is reanimated… but it too behaves violently toward them. When police and security officers arrive and subdue Halsey, West and Dan – to explain the scene of carnage – claim that the Dean simply went crazy and attacked both them and the corpses in the morgue. The reanimated Dean is strapped into a straight-jacket and taken away – put into the care of his brain specialist colleague Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). After lobotomising Halsey, Dr. Hill soon realises that the Dean is in fact dead and reanimated. Realising that West must be onto something with his research, which the doctor had earlier scoffed at, Hill determines to get West’s secrets for himself.

Little does Hill realise quite how unhinged Herbert West was becoming with each increasingly disastrous and chaotic experiment. Hill tries to blackmail West into handing over his secrets, West plays along just long enough to decapitate Hill with a shovel… and then West wonders how his reagent will work with body parts…

Content Warning: be prepared for very dark humour with very gruesome and bloody scenes… also some nudity and a particularly controversial depiction of a sexual assault (that gives new meaning to the phrase “giving head”).

Watch the trailer here:

Re-Animator – Tagline: Herbert West Has A Very Good Head On His Shoulders… And Another One In A Dish On His Desk
Runtime: 86 min (unrated) / 95 min (R-rated) / 106 min (extended cut) – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 9/10
(Extremely Good) – this might be schlock, but it is schlock of the highest order – a very funny and gory horror comedy. Jeffrey Combs‘ performance is particularly brilliant and it cements in place the foundation for his (as well as director Stuart Gordon‘s and producer Brian Yuzna‘s) prominent position in Lovecraftian cinema history.

Buy Re-Animator on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Re-Animator on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 17, 2016

 The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Dunwich Horror (Daniel Haller, USA. 1970)

A contemporary and not entirely faithful adaptation of Lovecraft’s short story of the same name with some 70s counter-culture and Crowley-esque occult-ness added for good measure… oh – and a young Dean Stockwell hamming it up to the max!

The Dunwich Horror Movie Poster

The Dunwich Horror Movie Poster

The enigmatic young warlock Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell) is twin to a monstrous entity locked in the attic of his family’s Dunwich farm-house. The pair were born to Lavinia Whateley (Joanne Moore Jordan) who was driven insane by the trauma of the birth and (presumably) by their conceiving – since the father of the “brothers” was Yog Sothoth, an Outer God summoned briefly by Lavinia’s own father Old Whateley (Sam Jaffe) twenty-five years earlier.

Wilbur wants to get his hands on a copy of the Necronomicon and a virgin so he can perform a ritual to open the trans-dimensional door that will let the Old Ones, heralded by Yog Sothoth himself, through to this world and bring about their dominion over humanity. At the Miskatonic University in Arkham he finds both the eldritch tome he’s looking for and a suitable young virgin, Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee). He successfully ensnares Nancy but the book proves to be a bigger problem as a suspicious Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley) refuses to “lend” it to him.

After getting Nancy ensconced, drugged and mesmerised at his Dunwich home Wilbur sets out to steal the Necronomicon. Meanwhile, Dr Armitage sets out to rescue Nancy from the warlock’s influence and then slowly realises it will fall to him to prevent any magical skullduggery from coming to fruition.

Pedagogic nit-picking: everyone in this movie pronounces the town’s name as “Dun-witch” when in fact it should be pronounced “Dun-itch”.

Content Warning: some nudity, sexual situations and orgiastic scenes.

Watch the trailer here:

The Dunwich Horror – Tagline: A few years ago in Dunwich a half-witted girl bore illegitimate twins. One of them was almost human!
Runtime: 90 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 7.5/10
(Good to Very Good) – an underrated (by most) cheesy 70s horror but a minor classic of Lovecraftian cinema that is very entertaining, even if the ending is a bit rushed. Much better than the director’s previous Lovecraftian effort – Die, Monster Die (1965). Stockwell steals the show!

Buy The Dunwich Horror (1970) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Dunwich Horror (1970) on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

Posted in The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

We made a Promo Video for our upcoming free H. P. Lovecraft eBook

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 13, 2016

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryPromo Video for our upcoming free H. P. Lovecraft eBook.

The first volume of our free Dark Matter series of ebooks is proving to take quite some time to compile and format. It collects all of H. P. Lovecraft’s creepy cultish fiction with a good spattering of his relevant essays, poetry, letters and his only sketch of Cthulhu. This eBook will also take a look at the legacy of his Cthulhu Mythos – an epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror – which inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world. It will have 144 of Lovecraft’s weird works; including ALL of his extant tales, with his juvenilia, his collaborative and his revision works. It will also include selected examples of those poetical and non-fiction works that we think will be of interest not only to fans of his fiction and Mythos in particular – but also to fans of horror and weird fiction in general.

Anyway – to the main point of this post. We thought a little promo video would serve well to drum up some interest in the aforementioned e-book… and, without further ado (except, put your headphones on people – the soundtrack will knock your socks off),  here it is:

Made using entirely free software with the addition of some open-source sound files from freesound.org. All the graphics were made using the open-source vector graphics editor Inkscape. The Cthulhu illustration was created using the GNU Image Manipulation Program GIMP. These graphics and images were then incorporated into video format using Microsoft’s Movie Maker.

The soundtrack featured in the video was made using the free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds Audacity. This soundtrack includes a special guest appearance by Bloop the mysterious ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu quote “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” was voiced by Harbinger451 himself… here it is in isolation:

For a break down of who was responsible for each individual sound used in the soundtrack see the credits at the end of the video… but also presented here for your convenience:

Video Credits

Video Credits

Details of the free ebook Dark Matter Vol 1: The Weird Tales of H. P. Lovecraft can be found HERE – including a full list of its contents.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


451 ePublishing Haus

Posted in 451 ePublishing Haus, Free for All, The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 12, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryCurse of the Crimson Altar (Vernon Sewell, UK. 1968)

AKA: The Crimson Cult (USA) | The Crimson Altar (USA poster title)

Very loosely based on Lovecraft’s short story The Dreams in the Witch-House – and we do mean loosely, the only connections we could see are the facts that there are dreams and they are indeed experienced in a witch-house. This was the last film featuring Boris Karloff to be released during his lifetime.

Poster for Curse of the Crimson Altar

Poster for Curse of the Crimson Altar

Set in contemporary England an antiques dealer, Mark Eden (Robert Manning), searching for his missing brother is led to a large and Gothic country house occupied by J. D. Morley (Christopher Lee) and Eve (Virginia Wetherell) his niece – descendants of the infamous Black Witch of Greymarsh Lavinia Morley (Barbara Steele) who was burned at the stake by the local villagers three hundred years earlier. The obligatory creepy butler, named Elder, is played very well by the excellently doomy Michael Gough while an elderly Karloff appears as the dour and forbidding wheel-chair bound expert on witchcraft, Professor Marsh.

The drug induced dream sequences have to be seen to be believed – they’re both trippy and kitsch and some of the costumes are in turn awesome (the green/blue skinned Lavinia’s regalia), sinister (the animal-masked jurors) and sometimes hilarious (the PVC bondage-esque blacksmith/torturer’s outfit for example).

Content Warning: There are some brief scenes of mild nudity… and the sight of the middle-aged Eden letching and pawing at the lovely young Eve in the supposed romantic angle of the story is quite literally stomach churning.

Watch the trailer here:

Curse of the Crimson Altar – Tagline: What obscene prayer or human sacrifice can satisfy the Devil-God?
Runtime: 89 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 6/10
(Pretty Good) – benefits from a strong cast, a terrific setting and a some-what psychedelic sixties vibe but is otherwise pretty lacklustre… especially the rather perfunctory ending.

Buy Curse of the Crimson Altar on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Curse of the Crimson Altar on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 8, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryDie, Monster, Die! (Daniel Haller, UK/USA. 1965)

AKA: Monster of Terror (UK) | Colour Out of Space (USA working title) | The House at the End of the World (UK working title)

Loosely based on Lovecraft’s short story The Colour Out of Space (and possibly conflating some elements of The Dunwich Horror – the Witley family history having similarities to the Whateley’s – along with some other Lovecraftian tropes) this movie directed by Daniel Haller transposes the action to a small country village named Arkham in contemporary England.

Die, Monster, Die! - lobby card

Die, Monster, Die! – lobby card

Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) is an American scientist come to visit his girl-friend Susan Witley (Suzan Farmer) at her family’s estate at the invitation of her mother, Letitia (Freda Jackson). On arrival at the village Reinhart is treated with suspicion as soon as it becomes known that he’s looking for the Witley Estate, where none of the villagers will go, and is forced to make his own way on foot across the heath to the house.

While on the heath he passes a huge crater surrounded by a large area of scorched earth and the dessicated remains of burnt vegetation. Moving on he comes to the forbidding grounds of the Witley house – liberally posted with “No Trespassing” signs and guarded by at least one man-trap – persevering on he finally gets to the house itself where he is confronted by Susan’s father Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff) and bluntly told to leave – but, of course, he doesn’t – especially when Susan appears immediately and greets him with welcoming and open arms.

Cue lots of mysterious shenanigans involving weird illnesses, unearthly noises, missing and dying servants, a family history of sorcery, a locked and glowing green-house with mutated plant life leading to a glowing potting shed full of strange mutated creatures of indeterminate origin… and, lets not forget, the large luminescent meteorite in the cellar radiating the purest green.

Lovecraftian trivia; Reinhart finds a book in Witley’s library entitled “Cult of the Outer Ones” – a passage from which reads, “Cursed is the ground where the Dark Forces live, new and strangely bodied… he who tampers there will be destroyed…”

Watch the trailer here:

Die, Monster, Die! Tagline: Can you face the ULTIMATE in DIABOLISM!… can you face PURE TERROR!
Runtime: 80 min – Colour – English.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 5/10 (Mediocre)
– for the most part an interesting blend of Gothic and Science Fiction horrors but unfortunately it really gets into the realms of the ridiculous toward the end.

Buy Die, Monster, Die! on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy Die, Monster, Die! on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

Posted in The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Universal Truth #2. Knowledge is Power

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 5, 2016

The Priory CategoryKnowledge is Power.

Know your friends, know your enemies, know your environment and know your limitations!

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a total lack of knowledge is far more dangerous. They also say that ignorance is bliss, but that’s because the ignorant don’t know what’s coming… better to know what’s coming so you can prepare for and, if at all possible, avoid or at least mitigate it. The more you know about the people and the world around you, the more prepared you are for any given situation and the more power you have to deal with it.

Knowledge is the psychological result of perception and experience as well as the result of learning and reasoning. It can be the (technical) know-how and skill required to do something as well as the sum of actual information that a person (or body of persons) possess.
The possession of knowledge gives you the power to use it. It is undeniable that one’s potential and abilities are improved by knowledge, and through that one’s reputation, influence and authority (and therefore one’s power) are increased.

Statue of Ferdowsi (940–1020 CE) in Ferdowsi Square in Tehran

Statue of Ferdowsi (940–1020 CE) in Ferdowsi Square in Tehran

“A wise man is strong, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.”
The earliest written reference that links knowledge and power is from the Biblical Book of Proverbs 24:5. In its original Hebrew (circa 1st millennium BCE) it reads “גֶּבֶר-חָכָם בַּעוֹז; וְאִישׁ-דַּעַת, מְאַמֶּץ-כֹּחַ”.
The English translation given above is from the King James Version, 1611.

“Your power comes from your knowledge”.
The Persian poet Ferdowsi wrote this as “توانا بود هر که دانا بود” in his epic Farsi poem Shahnameh (Letter of Kings, circa 1st millennium CE) which tells the mainly mythical, and to some extent historical, past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century. It is an important text to adherents of Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the pre-Islamic Iranian empires from around 600BCE to 650CE.

“Knowledge is Power.”
Although often credited to Francis Bacon it seems the first written variation of this (perhaps now clichéd) phrase appeared in Arabic as “Knowledge is power and it can command obedience”. These words were attributed to Imam Ali (599-661 CE) within the 10th century collection of his sayings The Nahj al-Balagha by Sharif Razi (970-1015 CE).

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), artist unknown.

Thomas Hobbes (1588 – 1679), artist unknown.

It is also the standard English translation of the Latin phrase “scientia potentia est” which was first penned by Thomas Hobbes in part one, De Homine, of his Latin rewriting of Leviathan in 1668. It did not appear in his earlier English version of 1651.
The nearest Bacon came to writing anything similar was in a passage referring to God, “knowledge itself is (His) power”, in his own Latin work Meditationes Sacrae (1597) in which it appears as “ipsa scientia potestas est”.

“Forewarned is forearmed.”
(English Proverb, circa 17th century CE)
Knowledge or intelligence achieved in advance of an event or eventuality allows for proper preparation, and therefore the power, to deal with and overcome that (or similar) event or eventuality. That’s why intelligence and information gathering is vital to any endeavour or pursuit.

“Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power.”
From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Old Age that was included in the collection Society and Solitude (1870).
Knowledge comes from observing everything you come across and learning from it – look and learn. See what works and what doesn’t then repeat what works and perfect it – practise makes perfect.

“Knowledge is power, geographical knowledge is world power.”
“Wissen ist Macht, geographisches Wissen ist Weltmacht” became a popular phrase in Germany after the 1871 unification and was often used to support efforts for a German colonial empire after 1880. After the disaster of World War One proponents of this geopolitical concept hoped that the Machtergreifung (the Nazi seizure of power) in 1933 would lead to an increased role for Germany as a world power.
It certainly seemed, for a while, that this would be so. Ironic, then, that it was the British mastery of knowledge (through secret technologies (like radar) and superior intelligence and information gathering) that played a major part in the Nazi regime’s defeat by the Allies in World War Two.
The modern German electronic warfare unit, Bundeswehr Bataillon Elektronische Kampfführung 932, in Frankenberg uses the already mentioned Latin phrase “Scientia potentia est” as its motto.

“Be prepared.”
The motto of the Scout movement since 1907 “which means you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body … by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.” Robert Baden-Powell.

John Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton (1834 – 1902)

John Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton (1834 – 1902)

“Through Knowledge, Power.”
The motto of the fictional Druids (an order of historians, philosophers, magic-users, teachers and researchers) in Terry Brooks very successful Shannara series of fantasy novels (1977 onwards) reiterates that power is achieved through knowledge and demonstrates how prevalent the notion has become in modern popular culture.

Is there such a thing as too much, or even dangerous, knowledge?
Lets consider knowledge in terms of the previous Universal Truth “Moderation is the key to Happiness”.
It would suggest that too much knowledge must be a bad or negative thing – this may seem counter-intuitive… but is it?
If we accept that great, or absolute, knowledge has the potential to lead to great, or absolute, power – then we are forced to now consider the oft repeated phrase…

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
With these words – originally spoken by John Dalberg, 1st Baron Acton, in 1887 – we are given the vice that an excess of knowledge will lead to – corruption… so maybe it is possible to know too much.

“I want, once and for all, not to know many things. Wisdom requires moderation in knowledge as in other things.”
This Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) quote supports the notion that too much knowledge can be a bad thing. We need Wisdom to temper our thirst for knowledge and it is with Wisdom that we must use (or choose not to use) the knowledge (and power) that we do have. Nuclear technologies and weapons being the prime example (among many) of potentialy dangerous knowledge and power that require wisdom in deciding their use.

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