Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creature Week - Lovecraftian Beasties

As is probably obvious to anyone who reads this blog (which turns out to be more people than I expected), the creatures of Lovecraft's fiction are perhaps one of my greatest fascinations. Some are wonderfully described, while others are left almost entirely to the reader's imagination. The father of Cosmic Horror, created some of the most bizarre and frightening creatures of all time. This can also make them a bit of a challenge when taking them into the physical realm of movies. This may be why there isn't a huge list of great Lovecraft adaptions. But the influence of these creatures can certainly be seen. And if I had to pick my favorite type of monster, the other worldly Lovecraftian beast would be it.
In some ways these creatures, as varied as they can be, bridge the gaps between so many types of monsters. Alien, terrestrial, demonic, vampiric, living on the fringes of modern myth and culture. These beasts play off of all our fears, the cultural ones and the primal ones.
There is of course all of the adaptations, most rather loose, that I could list here. But they are obvious Lovecraft based works. As a fan of HPL, most are easily familiar with films like From Beyond, Dagon, and The Dunwich Horror. But the point of these daily lists has been to introduce other things to the menu, and change up the usual lineup for planning that perfect hallow's eve atmosphere.

In the Mouth of Madness
This is one of my favorite Lovecraft inspired movies. The monster count is rather low for my tastes, and so I couldn't really call it a Creature Feature. But if we are talking horror films inspired by HPL and great halloween movies, this has to be mentioned. This film also shows how the works of Lovecraft has also inspired the writings of contemporary horror giants like Stephen King.

Cast a Deadly Spell
If you are looking for a laugh or two, this would be my pick on the Lovecraft front. I have mentioned my love of film noir and detective fiction before, so I find this film to be quite a riot. With the deplorable acting of Fred Ward as a PI out to stop the great Cthulhu himself, this is one of the best films of Lovecraft monsters without actually being based on anything Lovecraft wrote. If you don't believe me, just watch this:

This movie really just gets a long-winded honorable mention. I used to rent this movie a lot when I was at home sick. Something about fun creature features. It isn't a great film by any means, but Guillermo del Toro's first major American film isn't at all horrible either. I think the bigger reason I mention it, is that del Toro has revisited this little monster movie, digging up the original footage he was forced to cut, and discarding the second unit footage the studio made him add. The definitive director's cut releases this Halloween on Blu-ray, and that is how I plan to spend my 31st.

I mentioned this book in my brief update on the book challenge. It is my pick for one of the best Lovecraft inspired works of late. Essentially it is a sequel to stories like Shadows over Innsmouth. It's fast paced, fun and furious. I am begging the author, James A. Moore, to please write more!

Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths
A short, three-issue series of stories by Alan Moore connected with Lovecraft's mythos.

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft
Perhaps one of the best series of 2009, Image's short lived series about the pulp adventures of the author were a blast to read. Finally collected in a trade paperback, they are certainly worth picking up, if for no other reason than the fantastically illustrated covers.

This is a rather well known series, especially after the movies by the aforementioned Guillermo del Toro. But Mike Mignola's books and its subsequent sequels and spinoff are a lot of fun. Pulling in elements of police procedurals, horror comics, and weird creature of the week story arcs, Hellboy took a fun gimicky concept and turned it into one of the longest running indie series of all time. If you like adventure pulps or horror comics, or if you only know Hellboy and the BPRD from the films, you should definitely check them out. Thankfully almost all the trades are still in print!

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