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Friday, September 30, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft is turning in his grave

I've always been a voracious reader. Admittedly not always the kind of material that would have helped me to pass more tests but still, a reader nonetheless. My passion has always been for pulp horror fiction. Stuff like Night of The Crabs by Guy N. Smith whose use of the middle initial N. distinguishes him from the writer Guy Smith, born 20 years after Guy N. Smith. Mr. N. Smith is best known for writing stories of crabs, enhanced to enormous size after consuming radioactive waste, who then proceeded to terrorise English seaside towns and for me, as a then twelve or thirteen year old, being loaned a copy of The Origin of The Crabs with the explicit detailing of dismemberment-by-pincer came at a time when I was already afraid to enter the water thanks to Spielberg's Jaws, so to think that I now needed to be wary of crabs too meant for less than enjoyable spells being dragged around rock pools on holiday. Then there were the likes of Shaun Hutson (Slugs) James Herbert (Rats, Cats) Stephen King (Cars, Clowns, and Dogs) meant that you could find horror just about everywhere. A personal favourite was the British author, Brian Lumley. Lumley is most famous in the pulp horror genre for his series of Necroscope books where the main character, Harry Keogh, uses a talent to speak to dead people to increase his own potential and thwart a vampire invasion from a parallel universe. But Lumley's passion also extended to writing about the Cthulhu Mythos, a fictional universe created by H.P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft was a horror writer who scared his readers with tales of Old Gods, and Cosmic Horror. Forgetting the present and submerging yourself in the text could take you to ancient polar cities, filled with a sense of impending doom at their rediscovery, or to be horrified by fish-people hybrids (again with the aquatic horror). The stories were designed to be read by adults but after the likes of Hutson and Smith these weird tales galvanised my young imagination in a way that Stoker, Shelley and Poe had never been able to. They are still a go-to on my Kindle and when I tire of whatever novel I'm currently reading it's rewarding to slip back into the world Lovecraft created.

As far as movie adaptations of his work go, well there have been some but the ones I've seen have mostly been of the not-that-good variety. Re-animator and From Beyond were ok-ish horrors designed to take money from teenage 80's audiences. Dagon was a film which, had it had a decent budget, might have done some justice to the Shadow over Innesmouth story, but apart from these it's been thin on the ground. Even Guillermo Del Torro seems to have shelved his desire to make At The Mountains of Madness. So imagine my surprise to find an animated movie Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom. 

I don't mind that Dracula has been used to help kids to count. I can live with the fact that zombies were, cleverly, ripped from their voodoo roots to symbolise the greed culture that has engulfed first world societies. I can even handle the need to shamelessly drag classic movies into the world of reboots and re-imaginings as the originals will always be there. But I do draw the line at making the Cthulhu Mythos a kids playground. In what appears to be an attempt at doing a Tim Burton cartoon without getting the man himself involved, the producers have tried to take the Frankenweenie animation style and turn Lovecraft's work into a place for youngsters to ooh and aah about Shoggoth and tentacled horror. Lovecraft's visions are not something I would want seven and eight year olds delving into and I can only imagine the sleepless nights small children would have.