Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Audient Void--My Current Lovecraft Obsession


            Lately, I've been knee deep in library books, getting equally knee deep into tales of: Arkam, The great Old Ones, weird cults, sleepy/creepy coastal New England villages, Miskatonic University, the Necronomicon, and nightmarish visions of arcane knowledge...that's right, the literary musings of HP Lovecraft.
            While you may or may not be a fan (admittedly, some of his early stuff is hack work), you can't deny the influence, on all things horror, that the guy Stephen King cites as his primary inspiration has had. With this in mind, I decided to revisit (and visit for the first time) some of the Lovecraft adapted horror cinema out there---I'm sure everyone has their favorites, but these are the ones I have in my crazy, hoarder-type, DVD, let's begin.
"Re-Animator"(1985)--Yeah, really obvious, but Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna managed to create a funny/repulsive little franchise that incorporates elements from Lovecraft's tale in all 3 installments--plus, let's be honest--Barbara Crampton!! Classics all of 'em!
"Dagon"(2001)--A creepy, frankly scary, little yarn, that, while sporting a change in venue and some character shuffling, is a pretty awesome re-creation of the fabled Innsmouth. Gordon really cooks here, serving up slimy handfuls of frog/fish goodness! Definitely check this one out--very underrated.
"In The Mouth of Madness"(1994)--While it doesn't exactly have Lovecraft's name attached, c'mon man! A variation/hybrid of several stories, this film contains a few genuinely unnerving set pieces. Probably the most overlooked film in John Carpenter's catalog (equally the fault of the unsatisfying, ambiguous ending and Sam Neill's criminal over acting...), this is probably one you'd want to skip, unless you're a diehard JC fan or have 90 or so minutes to waste...
"The Call of Cthulhu"(2005)--A black and white, silent film that is just pure genius! Andrew Leman's faithful adaptation really shines because of it's look and ambition. Superb sets on a shoestring budget, and it really captures what a film made in HP's time would have looked like. In a word--Excellent!
"The Dunwich Horror"(1970)--Psychedelic dream orgies, Dean Stockwell acting hella fucked up while looking like Harry Reems, 75% of Sandra Dee's left tit, and a guy that appears to be the Caucasian version of Grady from "Sanford & Son"--Daniel Haller's AIP released effort, if nothing else, keeps you watching! Sets and characters that typify the gothic cinema of the era (Hammer/AIP), this is one that's not to be missed! Campy and fun.
"From Beyond"(1986)--Stuart Gordon again-and he brings along a cast that's like a genre nerd's wet dream! Fire up those pineal glands, and pop this entertaining gem into your DVD deck! Adding a liberal amount to the sparse source material, this film manages to expand into a sci-fi pulp comic brought to vivid life. Ken Foree, Jeff Combs, and the amazing Ms. Crampton (who also dons a leather/latex bondage get up...just picture that for a sec...take all the time you need...) romp through this freaky, nasty, bloody story of science run amok.
"The Unnamable"(1998)--Basically a "monster kills teens fucking in a haunted house" film, director Jean-Paul Ouellette, however, manages to work in almost all of the original story's finer points. Kind of a decent popcorn film, and it creates a cool back-story only hinted at in Lovecraft's work. Check it out.
            Well, let me grab my bookmark, read some more, and pop this DVD of the "Masters of Horror" episode from Stuart Gordon into the player....

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