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Posts Tagged ‘Lovecraftian’

Sneak Peek at a Haunted House, Noir, Lovecraftian Horror mashup by Peter Guy Blacklock – an Exercise in cliché Management

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 2, 2018

The Horror of it All CategorySneak Peek at a Haunted House, Noir and Lovecraftian Horror mashup by Peter Guy Blacklock – an Exercise in cliché Management

I’ve always wanted to write my own version of the classic haunted house mystery/horror trope, one that would bring in elements of hard-boiled Noir and sanity shredding Lovecraftian Horror. I was inspired to finally write it when I happened upon an article on Wikipedia about the often-mocked and parodied first line cliché “It was a dark and stormy night“, which mentions a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose “the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels” – the first bout of which to be published uses the aforementioned opening so often employed by the Snoopy character in the Peanuts comic strip – among others. A good idea, I thought, but a much better and, it has to be said, tougher exercise would have been to write the first paragraph that rescues a clichéd opening by turning it into a potentially good one. I set myself that very task and it led to me writing the following first chapter of what, I hope, will be a novella I can publish. At the very least I will be publishing the subsequent chapters of this novella on my Patreon page as and when I write them.

Of course, these days the sub-genres of haunted house, Noir and Lovecraftian – though original once – have now become bogged down in clichés all there own. Many writers believe that clichés should always be avoided (like the veritable plague in fact) but I tend to disagree. Clichés have their place in fiction like they do in real life. Good fiction, especially genre fiction, will always be an exercise in cliché management, you can choose to never use them or you can learn to play with them – you can subvert them, use them for your own ends or use them to mess with your audience’s expectations… the world is your oyster – to paraphrase Shakespeare.

So, without further dilatoriness, here is my exercise in cliché management (titles are provisional) …

The Hell House on Haunted Hill

[or]

Justifiable Homicide

By Peter Guy Blacklock

Chapter One: There’s A Killer on the Road

It was a dark and stormy night, the cliché goes, and suddenly, as it oft continues, a shot rang out.

Of course nights are invariably dark, but this one was particularly so, and the storm that raged was uncommonly vicious – it was the right sort of night for the wrong kind of outcome. The shot ripped a red hot slug of metal through the rain swept windscreen, then it screamed past Lofty’s head, tearing a chunk of flesh and cartilage from the tip of his right ear. Lofty braked hard and the big Lincoln-Zephyr four door sedan messily skidded to a halt down the sloping muddy lane, veering toward a waterlogged ditch that lurked at the bottom of the incline as the lane took a sharp left. The big automobile only barely stopped short of the ditch.

Lofty could see nothing through the opaque fanning of fractured glass that was the holed windscreen – though the wipers kept up their frenzied metronomic flailing regardless – and the blackness through the rest of the car’s windows was almost complete, like they were mirrors on a murderer’s soul. His hand instinctively rested on the butt of the snub-nosed Colt Detective Special in his shoulder holster as he listened, alarmed and alert, but in that moment the pounding of torrential rain and the gusting wail of the wind was all that he could hear. A sharp flash and flare of lightning split the sky with a monumental crack of thunder and to his left he briefly saw the pale and sodden figure of a young woman stumbling toward him down the backwoods lane.

Winding the window down to his left, Lofty reversed and turned the Lincoln to shine the headlights down the lane and he leaned out, peering into the tempestuous downpour. The bedraggled woman, dressed in a sheer white gown entirely unsuitable for a night such as this, staggered toward the twin beams. Her distress was manifestly evident in her gaunt and distraught face. She stumbled and fell hard to her knees just short of Lofty’s car then stared wide eyed at him, big beautiful eyes pleading, with hands outstretched, begging.

“God damn it!” Lofty exclaimed under his breath. Acutely aware that another shot could come tearing his way at any moment; the big man, lean and muscular, got out of the car and bundled the slight and shivering woman up in his arms. Hunkering low he carried her slim and, he couldn’t help but notice, shapely form and got her into the expansive back seat of the Lincoln, wrapping her in the blanket that was back there.

“Hit a tree!” She said breathlessly between gasps and shivers as he got in beside her and lent forward over the front seat to close the side window there. “Tire blew out, lost control and hit a tree!”

She didn’t look like she had any injuries, except perhaps for a pair of grazed knees.  Lofty pulled a hip flask from his Jacket pocket and offered it to her. “Here, Sister,” he said, “have a snort of sour-mash, it’ll take the edge off.”

She took the flask with a half smile and a rather pouty lick of her lips. “Thanks, Gee,” she said taking a swig, “but my edges were rubbed off a long time ago.” She coolly looked at him then pointed to his bloodied ear, “What happened to you?”

Just as coolly, Lofty pointed to the little round hole at the top of the windscreen through which the wind was now whistling. “Someone took a pot shot at me, coming down that incline.”

“That’s where my tire blew, just managed to get round this bend before careening off the road.” Her forehead furrowed slightly as she raised a concerned eyebrow. “You don’t think someone was trying t’ drill me too, do ya?”

He was pretty damn sure someone was. “We better get out o’ here.” He said as he clambered awkwardly from the back of the car to the front.

“My, but you’re a BIG galoot, aren’t ya?” she said expressively, “All strong arms an’ long legs.”

The V-12 was still loudly purring under the hood as he got back into the driver’s seat and took the hand-brake off; easing the engine on into a growl the Lincoln soon picked up speed. He punched his fist through the shattered windscreen directly in front of him so he could at least have some idea of where he was going. The left wiper finally gave up the ghost and jammed half way up.

“Wait, wait!” the young woman suddenly exclaimed. “My things, in the car… I can’t leave them here.”

He quickly glanced back at her with a steely glare that revealed a slight flash of anger.

“Everything I own is in that crate – I can’t abandon it all, someone might glom the lot and it’s all I have in the world!” she insisted, her own steel matching his.

Lofty caught a glimpse of what looked like a brand-new maroon ‘47 Ford 2-door convertible rammed into a tree and he braked suddenly, sending the blanket wrapped young woman in the back sliding forward, she slipped clean off the seat with a startled yelp.

“What am I getting?” he said tersely but the flicker of anger had entirely vacated his granite chiselled features. He had a cleft chin and high cheekbones with the kind of lazy sad eyes that had seen far too much of the world.

Sitting herself back in the seat she said, “There’s a case and vanity in the foot well on the passenger side and a pocket-book in the glove compartment… oh, and a clutch-purse, a fur stole an’ jacket, and a folio on the passenger seat too.”

He looked back at her, and with a hint of sarcasm said, “Is that all?” He guessed she was about twenty but she could have been a couple of years either side of that. She had a knowing face and an easy air, a self assurance that he liked a lot.

“Yep,” she said pertly, and not short of sass she added with ironic demure, “I’m a simple gal of modest means.”

Lofty backed the Lincoln up a little, and then eased himself over to the passenger side. The convertible’s door was already wide open so when Lofty opened his door full the two doors met. “Open your door too,“ he said to the girl, “an’ I’ll pass all your worldly goods to ya.”

Staying low the big man quickly went to her car, it still had that new-car smell, the thought intruded, and all her luggage looked pretty damn new too, “and not cheap” he mumbled as he started lifting and schlepping them to her.  Case, vanity, pocket-book, clutch, folio and then he threw the stole and jacket – white fox fur, very expensive – right in after them. “Modest means?” he said, then “Quite the doll, aren’t ya.” as he got back in the Lincoln.

“They were a gift… from a friend.” she said, “Not that I need to explain myself to you.”

“No, you’re right – ya don’t.” Doors closed, hand-brake off and they were on their way again. “I apologise.” He said, peering through the fist sized hole and the still pouring rain.

“Apology accepted.” She said. “We’re both a bit nervy that’s all. Got any butts on ya? I’m gasping.”

Three rapid flashes of lightning, accompanied by positively cataclysmic claps of thunder, bleached the whole of Essex County, if not the entire State of Massachusetts, for a brief second or two – it was all stark woods, dank marshes, unwholesome creeks, and small, isolated, barren-looking farmsteads.

“I’ve got almost a full deck in my inside pocket,” he said, negotiating a series of tight bends, “if you can reach round and get ‘em – don’t want to take my hands off the wheel at the moment.”

“Sure thing, Gee.” She said, and she did.

“Flare one up for me too, will ya, Doll?” He glanced at her with a droll but intimate grin.

“Sure thing.” She replied with a coy smile, then lit the two cigarettes simultaneously with a lighter pulled from her purse, and reached forward again to place one of them in Lofty’s mouth. “So what’s your name, Gee?” Her face was level with his now and he felt her warm breath on his cheek as she spoke.

“Robertson,” he said, drawing in on his cigarette, “Mitch Robertson – but most folk call me Lofty.”

“Lofty!” she laughed. “Your friends aren’t the most original are they?”

He laughed too, “Nope,” he said, “but that’s soldiers for ya – I got the name in the army and it stuck.”

“You a G.I.?”

“Was.” He said. “82nd Airborne Division, 505th P.I.R., Sergeant First Class.”

“Sergeant First Class!” She said, seemingly impressed. “What does P.I.R. stand for?”

“Parachute Infantry Regiment.”

“A paratrooper!” Again, she seemed impressed. “You must have been in the thick of it during the war, did you see much action?”

He nodded and said, “Some – Sicily, Italy, Normandy… all the way through to Germany.”

“Damn!” She said, but sensed his demeanour turn; he had visibly tensed up at the close of her question.  She had seen enough young men back from the war in the last two years to understand. Some wanted to talk about it, but most didn’t; she had learned it was best not to push, for many were broken – inside as well as out. She changed the subject, “So, what do you do now… for a living I mean?”

“I’m a gum-shoe, but it’s not much of a living.” He said.

“You’re a button-man?” She was a lot less impressed this time and simmered a palpable hostility at the very idea that he might be a police detective.

“A Private Op.” He qualified.

“Oh, a P.I. – you must be a glutton for punishment, couldn’t leave the excitement and danger behind when you were demobbed, is that it?”

Lofty laughed, “Believe me, it’s not that exciting – it’s not like it is in the movies or some dime-novel ya know, it’s cheating husbands an’ wives mostly. What about you, what’s your story?”

“There’s not much to tell,” she said rather defensively, “I was a hostess for a while, I’ve done a bit of modelling, a bit of dancing – chorus line… tried a bit of acting, ya know, this an’ that.”

“Well, you seem to be doing alright for yourself – new car, Chanel bags and Arctic Fox furs – you must have quite the benefactor?”

“Hey!” she said, offended. “What are you implying?”

“I’m not implying anything… hell, we all have to do what we have to do to get by in this world – I’m in no position to judge anyone in those regards – think I can afford a bus like this on twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses?”

“Humph,” she said expressively, “still sounds like you’re implying something to me,” though now she was more feigning offence than taking it.

“There’s a gas station up ahead, we better stop an’ tell ‘em about your wreck back there… may be call the local Clubhouse, tell the cops that there’s some kind o’ lunatic taking pot shots at people.”

Lofty spent all of five minutes out of the car while she bit her thumb inside it. She could see him and the attendant gesticulating to each other, getting directions she presumed, but the raging storm meant she heard none of it. The attendant took his time filling the tank. There were some more gesticulations.

“Damn this godforsaken place!” said Lofty when he got back in the Lincoln, slicking his Brylcreemed black hair down. “Didn’t have a phone – hell, I doubt they even have cops out here anyway… the place is a total back water.” He sat there a moment, thinking, then said, “We’re not too far from my destination… is there any where I can take you – where were you heading? Cause I have to say, there’s not much of anything round here,” he turned to look back at her, “and I can’t figure what a big-city gal like you is doing all the way out here?”

“Ah, well… this big city gal just happens to have been born all the way out here. I was orphaned at age four and sent to distant relatives in Boston,” she said, a hint of bitterness in her soft caramel voice, “at twelve I was sent to even more distant relatives in New York, been a big-city gal ever since.”

“Go figure,” he said, “so was I, born all the way out here that is. Got drafted into the army in 1940, 23 years old and fresh out of M.U., saw the world and opened my eyes… after the war I moved to the big city myself – San Francisco. Really never thought I’d ever come back here.”

“Me neither,” she said, “but I’m here… got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Some great, great uncle I’d never heard of up an’ died and left me some kind of inheritance or bursary.”

“And you’ve gotta attend the reading of the will to receive it?”

“Yes, how’d you know?”

Lofty delved into an inside pocket, “Me too.” He said as he handed her an envelope.

She took it, it was already opened but a letter was still inside, she removed the letter and read it. “This is the same letter I got,” she said, “word for word I think, except my name in place of yours.”

Lofty asked, “Do you still have the letter you received?”

“Sure,” she said and retrieved it, her’s too was still in the envelope, which was now folded in half, she pulled it from her pocket-book then handed it to him with his own letter.

He studied the two envelopes, written in the same hand and with identical post marks indicating they originated from Ipswich, a small town about three or four miles further up the road, and both dated October the 13th, about two weeks ago. Her’s was addressed to Ms. Martha Woodstern, 118a, Rapelye Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York. The letters themselves were indeed identical, except for the names, and they were both typed – probably on the same machine – and the rather shaky signatures matched too, from a William Castle, apparently the last surviving child of the unknown great, great uncle.

“Well, Ms. Woodstern,” he said handing back her letter, “it looks like were related, if somewhat distantly.”

“And this William Castle bird, that were going to meet, if he’s our great-uncle… how old must he be?”

“He’s 87… I looked him up, spent the last couple of days back in Lynn and then Salem, at the Public Libraries and the Records Office; he’s from a rich family that has a long and complicated history, of both Scottish and English descent. How it all relates to my family tree, I have no idea.”

“If he’s 87?” She exclaimed. “How old was great, great Uncle Wilbur when he died?”

“He was 109 by all accounts.”

“Damn, talk about charmed lives.”

“Like I said, they’re rich. Have been for centuries – old Wilbur’s father, in the 1830’s, paid to have an old Scottish baronial castle moved stone by stone across the Atlantic and rebuilt here, on the site of some deserted colonial village with its cemetery and an old abandoned mine that  he’d managed to acquire – caused a hell of a stir… but young William still lives in that castle to this day. That’s where we’re heading now, Castle House.”

Martha laughed dryly, “So William Castle actually lives in a castle, and I was born to humble farm stock who’d worked themselves to death trying to feed me…  where’s the connection?”

“I’m not sure, couldn’t find a connection to me either.” Lofty pondered “It makes me wonder how many more prospective distant relatives are on their way to this Last Will and Testament reading?”

After a moment’s silence Martha asked, “How much further is it?”

“Not far up this road there‘s a turn off to the right, we take that and it loops back through the woods and salt-marshes to where Castle House is, toward the coast. It should take about fifteen or twenty minutes.” Lofty eased the Lincoln’s V12 back into a growl and they set off from the gas station.

Castle House was actually an early 16th century Tower House and courtyard, a particularly big one, with two 17th century towers at alternate corners of the massive keep-like house. It sat at the top of a long low hill with an old graveyard sloping down the right side toward the marshes and a ruined church and village sloping down the left to the woods. Lofty kept getting glimpses of it through the hole in the windscreen as he drove up toward it. After another flash of lightning and burst of thunder, he said.  “Looks like a backdrop from a Universal monster movie; all we need is Bella Lugosi or Boris Karloff and an overly melodramatic musical score.”

“Gives me the creeps!” said Martha in the back, it was not the sort of castle she had imagined; it was all bleak and foreboding and reminded her of nightmares that plagued her in childhood. She suddenly wanted Lofty to turn the car around. “Something doesn’t feel right about this whole setup,” she warned, “the letters… a great, great uncle that neither of us has ever heard of – it has to be a joke or a con, a scam of some sort… or a trap – someone has already tried to kill us!”

Lofty laughed dismissively. “These rubes are rich and I’ve got the jump on them, we both stand to carve a substantial chunk of sugar from inside that pile. I at least want to see how the cards fall before I consider checking out of this particular house game.”

She said no more and he didn’t turn the car around. He thought about telling her what the gas-station attendant had told him, a nervous little man who wasn’t – Lofty suspected – entirely compos mentis. “It be a Hell house,” he had said, “a Hell house on a haunted hill! You don’t wanna go up there – often times people drive up there, but very few of them seem to come back down!”

Of course, he didn’t tell her – that fool of an attendant was speaking nonsense and he figured she was jumpy enough as it was. So they continued following the road, snaking up the hill to the forbidding gatehouse that fronted the walled courtyard of Castle House.

Chapter Two: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, will be coming soon.

As stated earlier, you will be able read forthcoming chapters on my Patreon site (if you subscribe) HERE, or you can wait for it to be published in ebook form when it’s finished. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated on all my articles, stories and publications – or follow me on Twitter HERE.

The Horror of it All… enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

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Copyright © 2018 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Untamed (2016), A Mexican Tentacle Sex Monster Movie!

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 2, 2018

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Untamed (Amat Escalante, Mexico. 2016), A Mexican Tentacle Sex Monster Movie!

Fair Warning: this article discusses a film which features an explicit tentacle sex monster, if this concept makes you uncomfortable in any way THEN YOU ARE ADVISED THAT CONTINUING TO READ FROM THIS POINT FORWARD IS TO UNNECESSARILY INFLICT PSYCHIC DISTRESS UPON YOURSELF! Perhaps you could look at pictures of kittens in baskets instead, as this is clearly not the film for you.

The Untamed (2016)

For those made of sterner stuff, let us begin as the film does with an asteroid in space. Then we immediately cut to a naked woman – aroused? post-coital? disappointed? – with a tentacle being suggestively withdrawn from her pubic region. We do not see that to which the tentacle is attached. The story folds out from this point onwards, bringing in well drawn characters and letting us get to know them, their secrets and sins, all beautifullly acted in a low key, naturalistic fashion. The tentacled thing is being studied by the scientist who happened across it, it is a lodger in his home and various people visit it there throughout the film but not for the purpose of furthering scientific knowledge. We only begin to see it clearly three quarters of the way through the 98 minute running time where puppetry and CGI are to used to spectacular effect, one scene in particular reminding this reviewer of the great Hokusai‘s extraordinary wood-block printed design, ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’. It is however, never made clear what the being is, or what its purpose may be, though we learn the Lovecraftian fashion of its arrival leading to another eye-popping scene by which even Bosch himself would find himself impressed. This tentacled being – presumably The Untamed of the title, though it could equally apply to our initial female protagonist – can, like Satan give both great pleasure and great pain, although whether it knows the difference we never discover.

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” by Hokusai (1814).

The pacing is slower than much genre fare, perhas due to its arthouse leanings but the story is fascinating and well told, beautifully shot and acted, covering such diverse subjects as loneliness, closeted homosexuality, psychedelia, domestic violence, addiction, existentialism and perhaps the film’s true subject is familial expectations, dynamics and conflict. For those with eyes to see, it is worth it purely for the two tremendous scenes previously mentioned. Perhaps it would not be an honour sought out by the film maker but fans of Japanese tentacle porn will surely find in this their favourite non-porn film ever. This is a film that takes a Lovecraftian idea places that there is no evidence Lovecraft ever went – or even dreamed of – himself.

Watch the trailer here:

Original Title: La región salvaje! [The Wild Region!]
Runtime: 98 min – Colour – Spanish Language.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 6/10 (Pretty Good) – slow, but extremely well made and acted, this movie is probably not for everyone. An erotic Lovecraftian kitchen-sink drama that is well worth a watch for those who are broadminded enough to appreciate it.

Buy The Untamed on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Untamed 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 © 2018 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Void (2016/2017)

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 13, 2017

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Void (Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie, Canada. 2016/2017)

The Void

Theatrical poster for The Void.

Originally crowd-funded on Indiegogo, this movie is a horror, mystery, sci-fi homage to classic pre-CGI creature features, especially those of John Carpenter. It has loads of allusions to various Lovecraft tropes including strange cultists, reanimated dead, alien evils older than time and weird portals to regions beyond the stars. First shown at the 2016 Fantastic Fest and then later at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, it was given a wider theatrical release in 2017.

James (Evan Stern) flees from an isolated farmhouse and escapes into the woods. A screaming woman tries to follow James, but she is shot and callously set on fire by Vincent (Daniel Fathers) and his mute son Simon (Mik Byskov), both of whom also came out of the farmhouse. A short time later Deputy Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) comes across a bloody and incoherent James crawling down a rural road and delivers him to the nearest medical facility; a half-burned-out, understaffed hospital which is about to close – and also happens to be where the good Deputy’s estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) works as a nurse. The only other staff at the hospital are Doctor Powell (Kenneth Welsh), Nurse Beverly (Stephanie Belding) and intern Kim (Ellen Wong). In the waiting room is an old man, Ben (James Millington), with his heavily pregnant granddaughter Maggie (Grace Munro) and, in one of the rooms, there is a young patient called Cliff (Matt Kennedy).

The hospital descends rapidly into chaos as Beverly seemingly goes crazy, pealing her own skin off and killing Cliff, forcing Deputy Carter to shoot her dead. A State Trooper (Art Hindle) then arrives, investigating an apparent occult mass murder back at the farmhouse, looking for James. Strange, otherworldly horns then sound ominously and the hospital is surrounded by hooded, knife wielding, cultists seemingly intent on making sure that no one leaves alive – just as Vincent and Simon burst into the hospital, also on the hunt for James.

void cultists

Cultists from The Void!

Things just get stranger, more weird and more violent from there on in, so prepare yourself for a gruesome roller-coaster ride to a place far worse than hell itself as Deputy Carter tries to make sense of what is happening. All while sorting the good guys from the bad, dealing with in-fighting, more murders, unusual visions, the dead that will not lay and the sanity defying appearances of hideous slithering entities and other cosmic horrors… oh, and don’t forget the cultists.

Content Warning: very violent, with plenty of blood and gore – enough even for the most ardent fan of grotesque body-horror.

Watch the trailer here:

The Void – Taglines: A New Dimension in Evil | There is a Hell. This is worse

Runtime: 90 min – Colour – English.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 7.5/10 (Good to Very Good) – a great attempt at a good old-fashioned (80s) style practical-effects driven action packed horror. A bit weak regards characters and dialogue but a very entertaining and bloody slice of creepy and intense Lovecraftian shenanigans none the less.

Buy The Void on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Void 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 © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

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Lovecraftian Book Review: Shoggoths and Sundown Towns – Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (2016)

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 10, 2017

The Lovecraftian CategoryShoggoths and Sundown Towns – Lovecraft Country (Matt Ruff, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016)

First off: I assume that if you’re reading this then you’re a fan of H. P. Lovecraft, but whether you are or not I strongly advise that you procure and binge on this book, it is an all-round treat and surely one of the best ever Lovecraft stories not actually written by Lovecraft himself. It is a fun and funny romp through many of Lovecraft’s themes and ideas, deliciously refuting his unashamed racism by featuring a large, well-drawn cast of highly individual and wholly capable African American characters. The central, over-arching tale – each chapter is a story that could stand alone – focuses on a 1950s African American family, along with their friends and associates, who find themselves pitted against a classic Lovecraftian trope: an evil cult whose unscrupulous intention to achieve great occult power may endanger the whole of humanity!

Cover of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Cover of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff… nice antiquing there by the graphic artist.

Each chapter is based around a separate family member or friend, describing their particular experience of it all as the plot dashes forwards, with all of these aspects ultimately uniting in the grand finale. The protagonist tying all of this together is Atticus Turner, a name which some have conjectured is a portmanteau of the principled defence lawyer Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mocking Bird and the very real, bold and defiant enslaved African American, Nat Turner, who led an uprising of enslaved and free black people against the inhumane authorities in Virginia in 1831.

Author Matt Ruff

Author Matt Ruff.

This seems apposite as he demonstrates many of their central qualities along with some that are his alone, including being a veteran of the Korean War and an avid science fiction fan. This latter attribute leads to some wonderful exchanges with his similarly enthusiastic uncle and baffled father which surely mirror the experiences of any passionate fan of speculative fiction. Interestingly, some of the most successful chapters centre on female characters. This is not least because the writer has taken care to outfit them with strong, distinctive identities and allowed them proactive agency and personal motivations that can sometimes be over looked in the writing of characters of the female persuasion – in both genre and literary fiction. It’s almost as if this particular author thinks women are real people, which again feels rather wonderful as women feature very little in canonical Lovecraft. The fact that people of colour and women share centre stage in defiance of Lovecraft’s repressive approach may have the fan boys yipping about legitimacy – but that’s just what they do, isn’t it?

The author of this gripping yarn is the critically acclaimed cult novelist, Matt Ruff, a well-regarded American writer covering diverse areas of genre fiction including sci-fi, post-cyberpunk, speculative and alternate history. His fifth book The Mirage dealt sensitively with Muslim culture and characters.

Influential horror writer H. P. Lovecraft in 1933

1933 photo of influential (and undeniable racist) horror writer H. P. Lovecraft

And so Ruff’s premise tackles Lovecraft’s notorious racism head on. This notoriety recently lead to the World Fantasy Awards replacing the bust of Lovecraft they’d used as the trophy for winners with an innocuous (and rather uninspired) statuette of a tree, finally understanding that any winner who happened to be a person of colour didn’t want the face of an infamous racist staring at them from their mantelpiece. Ruff’s confident explorations of both sundown towns – where black people were (and sometines still are) subject to legal summary execution after dusk (cf. Trayvon Martin) – and shoggoths are equally disturbing.

Most of the action in Lovecraft Country doesn’t take place either there (New England) or in Jim Crow Country either but in Chicago, yet there is still plenty of racial abuse and aggravation to go around. This randomly ranges from traffic cops pushing their petty weight around to people of colour being unable to buy houses in certain areas to the afore mentioned summary execution as punishment for the unforgivable crime of breathing while black.

The cultists – the Order of the Ancient Dawn – do not hide their intentions and prejudices behind white hoods, instead their money and power shields them. Caleb Braithewhite, the main antagonist, is apparently not an avowed racist, even standing up to bigotry to some degree. However, with an impunity born of a life time of unquestioned privilege, he also reflexively uses all of the advantages society has afforded him as a wealthy, upper class white man against our cast of every day characters who just happen to be black, in order to expedite getting what he wants. This vividly illustrates that latent and systemic racism, the kind purveyed by people who don’t consider themselves racist, also warps, damages and destroys the lives of people of colour, just as the more blatant burning crosses and lynching variety does. Caleb himself is actually a bit of a weak point, he’s not a very good bad guy, if you see what I mean.

Ruff confronts and writes well of that moment familiar to many a genre reader when a writer you adore makes plain their racist, misogynistic or homophobic opinions and a part of you dies a little in response, creating an ambivalence about whether enjoying their work is to tacitly endorse hatred. What does it mean to consume the output of someone whose moral compass points to true bigotry?  Is it hypocritical to value the work of someone whose views you fundamentally disagree with, that you know to be wrong? And how much more potent is that dilemma when you, the reader, are a member of the designated and despised demographic upon whom much venom is spewed simply for being what you are? Are you betraying yourself and your background if you read and enjoy the non-prejudiced parts anyway? The worst kind of unashamed vile racism is the great sin that taints Lovecraft’s work and I cannot imagine how it must feel to be a Lovecraft fan and a person of colour reading the Lovecraft poem, ‘On The Creation of the [N-word]’ The fact that Lovecraft Country itself – in which that particular poem is discussed – is a sharp retort and a clever clap-back to HPL’s retrogressive opinions is yet another point in its favour.

Having heaped all of that praise upon it, however, this is where I kill the buzz by pointing out that the book is not perfect. Although the characters are sensitively portrayed and the central idea of ‘who cares about tentacle monsters and blind albino penguins when I live in a society devoted to degrading, abusing and dehumanising me for every minute of my entire goddamn life?’ is a particularly effective one, it is not entirely successfully explored. The book has generally been well received but there are some lingering criticisms. Some felt it had nothing new to say on the issue of race, some felt exploring racism through the work of a notorious racist was in questionable taste.

A Shoggoth by Nottsuo

The existence of a shoggoth – as depicted here by Nottsuo – is not something you would take in your stride.

My personal criticism is this: in his eagerness to counteract Lovecraft’s position of reactionary hatred, which is a perfectly laudable aim, Ruff has created not characters but Platonic ideals of humanity, paragons almost totally without flaw, who are altogether too pat, too good, too perfect and in that they lose something of the messiness of what it means to be human. Perhaps this is a consequence of the idea that all victims are righteous? Atticus and his family and friends are all brave and clever and never confused or even slightly overawed by bizarre happenings, no one ever splutters, ‘Huh?’ or ‘What!?’ or ‘Wow!’ they merely take it all in their stride. For example, I’d be rather taken aback to accidentally discover – and reluctant to unquestioningly jump straight into – an interplanetary portal whether or not I was an astronomy enthusiast like Hippolyta who finds herself in such a situation which of course she deals with handily, remaining as they all do ever insouciant. They all drip with savoir faire and aplomb, never showing fear, cowardice or doubt. They lack any major character flaws and they never seek to turn situations to their advantage or in fact claim anything more than what they’re owed when others might well seek to leverage the situation. These incorruptible exmplars of humanity at its most faultless therefore lack the speck of authenticity that would have made them leap off the page and into a permanent place in the reader’s affections. Because of this they came off as a little pious and that is never a good look; it is an attitude that is also a trifle dull. It certainly put this reader off a little bit and I found myself longing for one of these goodie-goodies to come down with a severe case of self-interest or become even a teeny bit corrupted by the power they wielded so conscientiously. But no such luck.

Incidentally, there is no mention of Cthulhu – which is strange as that particular great old one has turned into a real media whore these days – and even the shoggoths are all off stage but people seem to forget that they mostly were in Lovecraft’s work too. And of course it would be difficult to plausibly remain preternaturally calm in the face of a gargantuan octopus god from beyond the stars, thereby breaking character.

The director of the amazing film, Get Out, Jordan Peele is to team up with JJ Abrams to make Lovecraft Country into an HBO TV show and I think the book’s episodic format should translate wonderfully, I very much look forward to seeing this novel transferred to the small screen which I think will suit the nature of the material better than a movie would. Prestige TV here we come!

[side note: Jordan Peele has said that the classic and much underrated horror movie ‘Tales From The Hood’ helped inspire ‘Get Out.’ TFTH also features a cast of black characters battling supernatural as well as racist horror, linking it to Lovecraft Country; if you haven’t seen it already, you really should seek it out.]

Of all the post-Lovecraft Lovecraftian material I’ve wolfed down over the years and, reader, that is a LOT, this book has come closest of all to matching the eerie dread Lovecraft so successfully strove to infect us with. The fact that the cause of that dread is the inescapable racism of people and society, rather than a monster the size of a house or a deadly, infectious colour says a lot. In the end, Matt Ruff has achieved something special and rare with this hugely enjoyable caper through Lovecraft’s mindscape that really has a unique perspective and something meaningful to say.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 9/10 (Extremely Good) – If you only read one Lovecraftesque novel about a 1950s African American family battling an evil cult this week, make it Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.

Buy Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff at Amazon.com
Buy Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff at Amazon.co.uk

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

More Lovecraftian stuff…

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 © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Lovecraftian Book Review: Whispers From The Abyss (Volume 2, 2015)

Posted by Harbinger451 on September 21, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Horrors That Were & Shall Be (Various Authors, Edited by Kat Rocha, 01Publishing, 2015)

This is the second volume in 01Publishing‘s series, Whispers From the Abyss (see here for review of first volume), collecting together twenty-six short stories inspired by the work of the great H.P.Lovecraft.  I’m pleased to be able to report that this is another great collection and, thanks to the sterling work of the editor Kat Rocha, the high standard of writing established in the first volume has been carried over, creating another treat for Lovecraft fans everywhere.

cover

Cover of Whispers From The Abyss Volume 2: The Horrors That Were & Shall Be (2015)

There are so many good stories within that they cannot all be covered here as they very much deserve but I’ll list several of my personal favourites which just so happen to be the final three stories and among the best.

Echoes in Porcleain by Konstantine Paradias is highly original, looking at the longer-term consequences of the famous R’lyeh from an angle I’ve never encountered before, having something meaningful to say about refugees which obviously has contemporary resonance.

Shadows of the Darkest Jade by Sarah Hans again comes from a unique angle, nicely building up the story to a classically Lovecraft denouement.

The Dreadful Machine by Martin James Hunter is particularly well written with the author having total control of the material, revealing a little at a time as the story moves on, hinting at what’s to come to good effect.  It’s a fittingly excellent way to close this splendid collection.

A few honorable mentions, all of them funny: Nyarlathotep’s Way by Tom Pinchuk; Notebook Concerning The Class Struggle in Dunwich, Found In The Ruins of a Construction Site by Kevin Wetmore; Kickstarter by Richard Lee Byers.

This volume presents a very particular problem for me as a critic.  My review of the first volume was itself criticised for being, if anything, too positive.  But as the material in both volumes is generally excellent, there is genuinely nothing negative to say and so it is out of my hands.  I am therefore left in the critically difficult position of having nothing negative to say – critically difficult as people love to read reviews that demolish their subject (the best ever example of this is of course by Dorothy Parker who famously wrote: ‘This is not a book to be cast aside lightly – it should be thrown with great force!’). And once again, the only, extremely minor critique I can offer is that I’m not terribly impressed by the cover, it is by no means bad, it’s simply not as superlative as the contents.  I’d like to suggest that as many of the stories have a contemporary setting, a similarly modern cover might do the volume more justice and perhaps make it stand out as it very much deserves to.

So congratulations again to 01Publishing and Kat Rocha, here’s hoping there will be a third volume in the series and that it will continue in the original, well written and satisfying vein very clearly established by the first two.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 8/10 (Very Good) – another highly recommend volume. If you don’t long to see R’lyeh rise from the dark depths after reading this – there’s something wrong with you.

Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 2 at Amazon.com
Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 2 at Amazon.co.uk

Also

Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 1 at Amazon.com
Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 1 at Amazon.co.uk

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

More Lovecraftian stuff…

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

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Lovecraftian Book Review: Whispers From The Abyss (Volume 1, 2013)

Posted by Harbinger451 on September 3, 2016

 The Lovecraftian CategoryWhispers From The Abyss (Various Authors, Edited by Kat Rocha, 01Publishing, 2013)

Has all your reading of H.P.Lovecraft’s entire works left you hungry for more? Good news, fellow Lovecraft fans (Lovecraftians? Necronomicomrades? Cthulhunatics?) – I have the solution! This truly excellent collection of short stories inspired by Lovecraft’s fiction explores all areas of his canon, from the good ol’ Cthulhu Mythos to the more obscure corners of that very unique mind’s body of work.

cover

Cover of Lovecraftian anthology “Whispers From The Abyss” (2013)

Although some of the stories are more successful than others, even the less well realised ones are full of good ideas and the standard of writing never wavers from the highly professional. Of course, none of them achieve the same sense of creeping dread and tearing open of the seams of reality that Lovecraft does, but that is rather like saying, ‘You don’t play the guitar as well as Jimmy Hendrix, do you?’

Particular standouts among the thirty three stories presented include my favourite, The Decorative Water Feature of Nameless Dread by James Brogden which has a wonderfully English slant and is very funny (shout-out to Radio 4!), The Jar of Aten-Hor by Kat Rocha which gets inside the idea of obsession and the final story in the collection, a long one called Death Wore Greasepaint by Josh Finney which comes at the Cthulhu Mythos from an original and very well-realised angle that is highly enjoyable.

I searched hard to find a criticism, the only one is extremely minor and barely worth mentioning at all – but I will anyway as that’s a critic’s job: a volume this good deserves a better cover.

There is a second volume of this collection which is reviewed HERE, but I heartily encourage 01Publishing to keep going with this series, especially if they can maintain the high standard that they have set for themselves with this initial collection.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 8/10 (Very Good) – highly recommend. I devoured it like Cthulhu swallowing a world and you most certainly will too.

Buy Whispers From The Abyss at Amazon.com
Buy Whispers From The Abyss at Amazon.co.uk

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

More Lovecraftian stuff…

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

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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

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

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

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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

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

 
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