In the first Horror 101 post I listed ten films the average horror fan may not have seen but should. In this “lesson” I’ll discuss writer HP Lovecraft.
What does a horror writer from the 20′s and 30′s have to do with horror films today? In the case of Lovecraft, a lot. I have not written much about his life and works here, that’s what Wikipedia is for. He wrote about horrific creatures/gods/aliens which often were insane…. or worse.
His works, primarily short stories with some novellas, have inspired many films. Some are direct adaptations such as “Re-Animator,” “Die, Monster, Die!” and a couple of episodes of the 1970s television show, “Night Gallery.” An interesting low-budget Lovecraft adaptation recently released is “The Call of Cthulhu,” A modern movie, but shot as a silent film, it’s worth watching as an oddball entry. Check out a clip below…
Other films, while not direct adaptations, borrow heavily from his visions of otherworldly and other dimensional horrors. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (one of your ten films assignment from before!) takes the idea from Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” of a group of scientists/explorers discovering an alien race beneath the Antarctic and also borrows visually from Lovecraftian monsters. Carpenter later followed with his “In the Mouth of Madness,” which has nothing to do with the Antarctic story, but does have many visuals as well as a title inspired by HP.
Compare this interpretation of a Lovecraft “Old One” to the titular “Thing” in the final scenes (not pictured here to prevent ‘spoilers’):
Most of you have probably watched the wonderful Evil Dead movies. The Necromonicon is a book in the films that is the culprit for bridging the world of the Deadites to ours. Well, HP came up with the Necromonicon in his stories as a book written by a “mad Arab” and detailing unspeakable things.
Speaking of that book, the nightmarish artist HR Giger has a set of paintings entitled Necromonicon which include some work you may be familiar with. Take a look:
So, hit Barnes and Noble, Amazon or the library and read up on some Lovecraft. Make sure one of the stories is “At the Mountains of Madness”, as Guillermo del Toro has long been hoping to direct the seminal work and has said that it’s his top project once he finishes the two Hobbit movies.
Until next time, go watch a horror movie!