Category Archives: HP Lovecraft
“I am she that liveth and was dead,
I am alive forevermore
and have the keys of Hell and death.”
I get chills every time I hear that tagline. It’s a downright crime that many horror fans might not know where its from and might not have even seen this early 1990s Italian horror film. The film in question is Dark Waters, from writer/director Mariano Baino and its one of the best horror movies you’ve never heard of.
Joss Whedon’s triumphant summer of Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers follows a line of thought that leads all the way back to the good old “Buffyverse”. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about the inversion of horror conventions. A diminutive blonde cheerleader is chased down a dark alley by a monster… only to pause, turn, raise an eyebrow, pull out a sharp object, and invert the monster’s conventions directly. In that vein, Angel takes the question in another direction: he *is* the monster, fighting other monsters, trying to make up for more than a century of chasing blonde cheerleaders down dark alleys.
Obviously, Buffy isn’t invincible. Lots of things can challenge Buffy: high school politics, standardized tests, the Patriarchy as represented by the Watchers. Eventually, these are overcome by the use of force, the support of friends, and a firm belief in one’s self. Angel uses a similar approach, though he is also conveniently immortal, and consequently emotionally insulated by 200 years of insight into the human condition. What is horror to a vampire?
This is obviously a question Joss Whedon asked again and again, but in the fifteenth episode of season 5 of Angel, “A Hole in the World”, he may have found the definitive answer.
Find out more after the jump!
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Arkham Asylum. Now that’s a name that provokes fear and terror for many. Officially named the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, the hospital/prison is where many of Gotham City’s, and the DC Comics universe’s, most dangerous deranged criminals are incarcerated. From a minor reference in one comic book, it has become so much bigger, most recently with two huge selling videogames and what looks to be a major plotline in one of this summer’s surefire blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises.
You want to know why it’s so hard to adapt H.P. Lovecraft stories to film?
It’s simple: the concepts of Lovecraft’s stories are too big for most people to see and believe.
If you read a story like “The Call of Cthulu” and create in your own mind a vision of R’lyeh (where dead Cthulu waits dreaming), that vision is likely to be far more terrifying than anything that Hollywood could give form to. Buildings and hallways with impossible angles in a slime-covered city risen from the bottom of the ocean tend to be hard to bring to life on a budget, even with CGI.
There is one film, however, that did Lovecraft right. If not literally, then certainly in keeping with the spirit of the material.
It’s a film that deserves your attention, and a space in your collection.
From the outset, I wish to claim, with no small significance, that this piece is less a review, bound in reflective passages of indiscriminatory minutiae and personal indulgences, then it is a paen of prose for that scribbler of things bizarre, mutable, and altogether otherworldly, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Here you will find not the voice of the balanced, or dare I claim, sane, writer, but rather the utmost praise and . . .
I’m going to let you in on something. One of my biggest fears is that one day I’ll come across something supernatural. A zombie, a vampire, a werewolf, ghost. Whatever. One day I’m going to come across one of these spooky things that are only supposed to exist on the page or the screen or in our nightmares and I’ll tell you and you won’t believe me. I’ll tell you that somebody I met didn’t cast a reflection or that I saw something walking the halls of my house, only to see it dissolve and you won’t buy it. You’ll say I’m seeing things or accuse me of playing a bad joke. Or you’ll think something worse. You’ll think I’ve gone mad, lost touch with reality.
But what happens if my reality and yours don’t match up.
My first exposure to H.P. Lovecraft didn’t come from his stories, but rather a cartoon that aired back in the 1980s called The Real Ghostbusters. This was, of course, an animated series based on the popular film about a band of ghost-hunters-for-hire operating out of an old firehall in New York City.
There’s nothing quite like the overwhelmingly frightening realization that there are more things unknown in our universe than there are things known. There’s nothing as affecting as the times where we sit alone, quietly in the dark, and begin to wonder about all the irrational, nameless, strange and ancient forces that must surely influence our short-lived existence. And, of course, there’s no better time to shed light on those dark truths than now, this first week of October.
Let the investigation begin, then, with the horror, fantasy and science fiction writer, H.P. Lovecraft. But first, let me set the stage for you.
You may not know the name Frances Bay, but you definitely would recognize the actress who passed away in Los Angeles last Thursday at the age of 92. Some may know her from her work in Happy Gilmore or on Happy Days (those are the first two career mentions the L.A. Times cite); others may remember her as the woman Jerry steals a marble rye from in a classic episode of Seinfeld. But for geeks like myself (and likely my Biff Bam Pop pals David Ward and Ian Rogers), Ms. Bay will have a place in my heart for two specific roles.
The first is her appearance as Mrs. Pickman in John Carpenter’s hugely underappreciated 1995 film In The Mouth of Madness, where she plays the owner of a small hotel in the town of Hobb’s End. The second is her role as Mrs. Tremond/Chalfont in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks – acting alongside Lynch’s son Austin, she added a serious creepiness to the series as an inhabitant of the mysterious Black Lodge.
You can check out footage from her more popular appearances below, including her Seinfeld appearance. Rest in peace, Frances Bay.
Neonomicon: Issues 1–4
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Jacen Burrows
In 1927, HP Lovecraft published a long essay entitled “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, which contains the well-known quote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Fine words, indeed. Many works of horror explore this concept, preying on our fears, to name just a few, of the dark, otherness, death, betrayal, violence, and sex. This taxonomy is by no means complete, but the last is of particular significance when considering both Lovecraft and Moore and Burrows’s latest foray into territories Lovecraftian, Neonomicon.