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The Unimaginable Horror of H. P. Lovecraft

post by: Jessica

When I first discovered the work of H.P. Lovecraft, I was in my second year of university and I did not know what I was getting myself into. I remember my first few reads of his short stories, I felt they were daunting and at times confusing. I would finish a story and wonder, “what the hell did I just read? And why do I feel like I want to sleep with the light on?.” At the time, I did not truly appreciate the craftsmanship of his horror literature. Then again I was a student focusing on my studies and barely had time to read anything for pleasure and when I did, I wanted something light and quick to read and at the time Lovecraft was not it. However, years later having been done school and returning back to reading for enjoyment, I was able to pick up Lovecraft again. This time around I had time to really sit with his short stories or novellas like The Mountain of Madness, Dagon, Herbert West; Reanimator, From Beyond, The Unnameable and so much more. I would steep myself in an atmosphere of dread by reading his tales accompanied by the eerie music by Midnight Syndicate. And that was where my appreciation for Lovecraft’s brand of unimaginable cosmic horror came to fruition.

I am a fan of atmospheric horror literature and films. I enjoy anything that allows my imagination to run wild and It is how I usually scare myself. One of the many reasons why it took me so long to get into the horror genre was because I was always scaring the crap out of myself.I love the concept of the Elder Gods, cultists, and the unspeakable horrors that drives the protagonist mad. Lovecraft created a world that under the surface is truly frightening. That you did not want to go after what went “bump in the night”and hat is was better to never know, then to face an unimaginable evil that saw your human existence as inconsequential. What was also amazing about this world was that Lovecraft really left it open to your imagination. This allowed for many people who are fans of his work to interpret his horrific creations any way they want. People even expand on his universe with their own short stories or novellas to really give us a feel of what it is like to live in a Lovecraftian inspired world.

Now, I am not always a fan of movie adaptions of books or stories I enjoy, though sometimes they are done very well. Other times, they ignite a fiery rage in me because they make a good book look so bad. But with the work of Lovecraft I feel the opposite; I love seeing the various adaptations and interpretations done by writers and directors to try and bring his tales to the silver screen. It is one of the reasons why I enjoy John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy. The Thing, Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness all carry a very Lovecraftian atmosphere to them. He is able to depict Lovecraft’s themes of dread, fear, isolation, disbelief, horror and inevitable madness. Out of the three of them, In the Mouth of Madness is the most Lovecraftian. Trent’s descent into madness as he comes to grips with the reality of the horrors around him is the same journey many other protagonists in a Lovecraft story take or fall victim to. The concept of cold, disinterested Ancients or Elder Gods influencing humanity from a cosmic beyond bringing chaos and destruction is truly terrifying.

Other directors have attempted to replicate the same type of horror through the concept of building dread or an unimaginable taking over the world. Stuart Gordon has brought to the screen his interpretations of ReAnimator, From Beyond and Dagon. In 2016s, The Void, by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, is a supernatural horror film that combines the cosmic horror of Lovecraft with the body horror of John Carpenter to give the audience an undefinable terror. I adore this film and really anything that has a Lovecraftian horror vibe to it. These are just some of my favorite Lovecraftian adapted or inspired films. I know there have been others who have attempted to bring Lovecraft’s horror to the screen, but sadly some of them come off quite cheesy like The Dunwich Horror. Such a great story but movie... not so much. However, I want to keep encouraging writers and filmmakers to do what they can to capture the essence of this cosmic horror. It is a wonderful and creative form of atmospheric horror and I say the more the better!

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