Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Where's H.P.????

An amazing number of modern horror writers pay tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, the man who blended elements of science fiction, horror, and nihilism to give us a world where we are helpless and insignificant before forces we can never hope to and shouldn't even try to understand. In the world of Lovecraft the Old Ones wait until the stars are right to return from their exile and reclaim this universe. Cthulhu will rise from his slumber beneath the sea, from the sunken city of Ryleh, and with his resurrection, Yog-Sototh, Shub-Niggurath, Hastur, and the other dieties will return to revel in Chaos reborn.

Great stuff. The mythos has penetrated popular culture through the writings of Robert Bloch, Brian Lumley. Ramsey Campbell, August Derleth, Stephen King, Paul F. Wilson, and many others. It has even penetrated the pages of comic books...Batman's Arkham Asylum is a direct tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, the name Arkham being taken from a town created by Lovecraft.

With all this being said, why have we had no films that have been true to the original source? Where is a major studio production of "Call of Cthulhu", or Lovecraft's "At The Mountains of Madness"? The best we've been able to do is pull elements of Lovecraft and tack them to horror stories for effect. Carpenter's "At The Mouth of Madness" immediately comes to mind. "Hellboy" had strong mythos elements in it. Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" trilogy was a loving tribute to the master. HBO produced a film noir tribute to Lovecraft entitled: "Cast A Deadly Spell", which was more an urban fantasy than anything else, but fun.

But for all that, attempts at filming Lovecraft's works have been miserable failures. Just rent such titles as "The Dunwich Horror", "From Beyond" "Die Monster Die", "The Haunted Palace", and "Dagon". And don't get me started on any of the drecht produced by Stuart Gordon. The best Lovecraft title produced so far is "The Resurrected", which is an interpretation of "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward".

So what is it? Why can't Hollywood get it right. Obviously Lovecraft has a following, not just among fans but among people who write and create film. In the past I would have acknowledged that special effects made "Call of Cthulhu" or "At the Mountains of Madness" unreachable for most filmmakers. But with digital effects, that's just no longer true. If they can bring "Lord of the Rings" to the screen, they can do ANYTHING.

So HOLLYWOOD, I'm over here waving my arms, give us a terrifying, well-produced version of "Dunwich Horror". Spielberg, how about taking on "At The Mountains of Madness", you're a natural for the project. Raimi, now that Spiderman has given you all the freedom you want, why not do "Call of Cthulhu"?

Hey, I'm only asking.

And if you haven't read Lovecraft...go read. Enjoy. Discover. Also, you might find a few of these links of value: bless wikipedia)
The Lovecraft Archives
Role-play gamers might want to check this out
And a magazine with Lovecraftian flavor, DARK WISDOM


Fab said...

Ah something new to discover! Good good good.

Bruce said...

Actually there is a series of DVDs of Lovecraft Short films that I highyly recomend. Actually the newest one the reviewe jsut got posted

End of the article has links to to of the other DVD reviews.

avery said...

I rented the 2006 "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" from the video store a few months ago. It was horrible. I thought I was watching Mystery Science Theater, but instead of the dude and the robot making cracks and laughing, it was me. Terrible. I recommend renting it only if you feel like laughing -- and don't mind watching the absolute destruction of a classic.

Hageltoast said...

I'd love to see lovecraft get the full works in a big budget movie! It'd either be brilliant or really really cheesy, either way good fun!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Fab..if I may, I suggest getting a nice safe collection of Lovecraft to start. Maybe something that at least includes "Call of Cthulhu", "Cool Air", "Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "Colour Out Of Space".

Bruce, I just checked that out. I've actually gotten some of those independent little films. Some were better than others. I enjoyed the silent version of Call of Cthulhu that was released, but I think it still needs a more powerful narrative and unifying thread.

Avery I saw that. It was horrible. You know one film which wasn't too horrible was a segment in the Showtime Masters of Horror series. Someone, probably Stuart Gordon did "Dreams in the Witch House". Not a great dramatization, but not a bad one either. Some chilling moments.

Hageltoast, I'm with you. The only concern I would have or the only advice I could offer to the director: Use the special effects to your advantage, but don't give me a special effects film.

Paul Levinson said...

Delightful blog! Always happy to discover another science fiction blog, and this one is excellent!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Lovecraft is hugely popular, but filmmakers can't seem to transfer it properly.