Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lovecraft: fear of the unknown

Finally, the excellent documentary by Frank H. Woodward entitled Lovecraft: fear of the unknown is out on DVD. I have been waiting to see this since I first heard about it a year ago. The film gives you what you would expect: the facts of Lovecraft's life and his influences. But more to the point it give you interviews with Authors and Filmmakers who have been influenced by Lovecraft, including Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, Peter Straub, and my personal favorite, Guillermo del Toro.
I was particularly interested in Guillermo del Toro's take on Lovecraft since he is set (one day) to direct At the Mountains of Madness, a film I am sure is going to be so awesome that I already nominate it for "Best film of the Year" for whatever year he gets around to making it.

These Artists are not shy about expressing their love for Lovecraft, nor do they shy away from the more troubling aspects of his life including his xenophobia and anti-Semitism, issues that Lovecraft detractors love to bring up and Lovecraft fans continuously have to deal with. There is little "defending" of Lovecraft here, except pointing out the obvious fact that he was a product of his time. The film also delves into Lovecraft's involvement with "amateur journalism," which introduced him to a whole new world of like-minded individuals (reminds me of our blogging community) and his relationship with his Jewish wife, Sonia H. Greene. Interspersed throughout this timeline are in depth examinations of Lovecraft's work, including Dagon, The Outsider, Herbert West: Reanimator, The Rats in the Walls, and At the Mountains of Madness.
Add to this a collection of Lovecraft inspired art by the likes of Lee Moyer and Tom Sullivan and you have a pretty complete primer on all things Lovecraft.
I find myself, with great regularity, falling into what I call my "Lovecraft Obsessive Phase." For a good amount of time I will read, devour, buy all things Lovecraft until I find that I have to pull myself out before I lose all sanity. For me reading Lovecraft is like having a terrible fever. The hallucinations are fun but when you start to feel better you go "what the hell was I thinking?" But I love the crazy guy.
By the way, one of the best parts of the film is a section where all of the talking heads argue on how to pronounce Cthulhu. I am still not sure how to say it.


Shoshanah Marohn said...

It seems like Lovecraft is enjoying a real revival. Suddenly- I have no idea when it happened- Lovecraft is very cool. It's cool to enjoy reading Lovecraft. I remember when I first read Lovecraft stories, I lived in Pueblo in this house that was sort of falling apart, and the more I read, the more I suspected the basement sucking us under, our neighbors being bastards and aliens and otherworldly things. Everything took on a Lovecraftian essence. He really usurps your life, that guy. I love it.

Franco Macabro said...

Im a real Lovecraft nut, Ive read most of his stories and love the atmosphere they have. Dementia...things to awful to describe or mention...the unknown...the terrors of the universe...dimensional doors...I mean the guy was all over the place, but he effectively explored many themes that humans really have no idea about. Which I loved. He dived into the unknow, where true horror resides.

So Im dying to see this one, thanks for reminding me its finally out! Im getting this as soon as humanly possible! Thanks for the review!

By the way, if you are interested in experiencing Lovecraft...I highly recommend you get the X-Box game Call of Cthulhu:Dark Corners of the Earth. Sooo creeeepy, so Lovecraftian! I recently played this game (and finished it!) and I loved every second of it. A Lovecraft fan would love to dive deep into that game.