Transcending Time and Space: H.P. Lovecraft Lives On – Bookmans – Written by Paul Lee
There was an amazing, deluxe, leather bound book that arrived in our store called H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction that collected his short fiction and it inspired this blog. Lovecraft is synonymous with the top-notch horror and has been for the last 80 years. Any horror writer worth their salt has read Lovecraft’s work and been influenced by his creepy tales of the occult and mythology with it’s cosmic monsters and occult books that threaten the existence of mankind. People like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker and a host of others have looked to Lovecraft as the master of the 20th Century short horror tales.
Originally I discovered Lovecraft’s tales when I was in middle school after I ordered a small collection of his stories entitled The Shadow Over Innsmouth and Other Tales of Horror. At thirteen I was already a big fan of horror movies and horror literature but nothing quite struck me like Lovecraft’s writing. His prose had a certain Edgar Allan Poe (who is also a literary hero of mine) cadence to it and in spite of its lofty language, conveyed scary images of monsters and demons that left room for imagination. The scenarios that Lovecraft’s protagonists faced were truly bizarre and unsettling. I can’t say that I was ever really scared but there was always a strange and thrilling element to Lovecraft’s work.
Another appeal of Lovecraft was that many of his stories took place in New England and around my hometown of Boston as well as Providence, Rhode Island and North of Boston around Gloucester (a seaport town steeped in it’s own creepy tales) which is located on the coast and has some amazing beaches and seafood. Lovecraft was a xenophobe, class elitist and had a fear of the ocean.
Lovecraft’s stories ran the gamut from humanoid monsters who were mutated versions of people to malevolent aliens who were in league with evil gods hell-bent on destroying humanity. H.P. created his own mythology based on a fictional book called the Necronomicon that was purported to contain some of the most evil spells and incantations known to humanity. Lovecraft encouraged other writers of his generation to use his Necronomicon mythos (also known as the Cthulhu Mythos) and many writers have written their own stories based around it including Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.
The Cthulhu Mythos derives its name from one of Lovecraft’s main nemesis of humanity, the giant tentacled horror who was known as Cthulhu (which is so well know my spell check accepts it as a real word), and who far surpassed any Christian devil or demon with his malevolent and godly powers.
In addition to Lovecraft’s influence on literature, his work influenced countless horror movies. Many directors have tried to make films based on Lovecraft’s stories but few have succeeded in encompassing his vast imagination. The first movie based on one of the writer’s stories was Die Monster Die (1965) starring Boris Karloff and was based on the story The Colour Out Of Space about an estate in New England that was victim of a meteor crash of which the radiation had a grisly mutating effect on the family who lived there. While the movie takes a lot of liberties with Lovecraft’s tale, it’s still a fun Technicolor romp into pulp-horror territory.
One of the few movies that I’ve found faithful to Lovecraft’s work is The Call of Cthulhu (2005), a 50 minute silent film that’s influenced by Director F.W. Murnau’s work Nosferatu. The movie was created by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (H.P.L.H.S.), a collective of true Lovecraft fanatics made up of artists, actors and other creators. H.P.L.H.S. also made The Whisperer In The Darkness, a movie that looks like it was produced in the 1930’s and is also faithful to the short story of the same name.
Such as John Carpenter’s The Thing (1981) and In the Mouth of Madness (1985), Director Stuart Gordon unleashed Reanimator, a tale of resurrection and zombies through medical means that had little to do with the classic Lovecraft tale of the same name. Gordon also directed Dagon which was closer to the Author’s work The Shadow Over Innsmouth about a town of mutated fish/human hybrids with a lust for chaos.
The cult following of H.P. Lovecraft has created organizations and hordes of fans that span the globe. Every year in Providence, Rhode Island there’s a convention called the NecronomiCon that takes place for four days every August and features weird fiction, art, academia and festivities. These are hardcore Lovecraft freaks! There are walking tours of the city that highlight where Lovecraft lived as well as the areas that inspired some of his writing.
It’s amazing that almost 80 years after his death H.P. Lovecraft’s horror fiction is still as vital and influential as it’s ever been. His work has been produced by numerous publishers and continues to sell out of our store every time they come in.