Archive for HP Lovecraft

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Out of the Aeons (1935) – HP Lovecraft and Hazel Heald

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by Paxton

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There were five stories written by a Massachusetts writer named Hazel Heald which were revised by HP Lovecraft and published. I’ll talk about one of those stories today.

The story is called Out of the Aeons and it was published in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales magazine.

Weird_Tales_April_1935

Like the Doyle story The Ring of Thoth, this story isn’t a typical “mummy story”. It begins with the discovery of a mysterious mummy on a mysterious island that mysteriously appeared in the middle of the ocean and then mysteriously disappeared soon after its discovery.

The story is written as a letter of final confession for the curator of the Cabot Museum in Boston.  The letter explains that some unbelievable and terrifying events have sprung up around the mummy and this letter he’s writing is to set down on record what actually happened as museum officials have essentially “white washed” the majority of the story with the press.

Much of the story is the curator delving into the history of the mummy.  It’s a fairly interesting and creepy sort of legend that has been culled from several banned tomes like “The Black Book” and the “Necronomicon”.  About half the story is catching the reader up to what the mummy could possibly be.  The back half of the story is essentially what happens to the mummy in the museum when the story gets out and the exhibit becomes popular.  All the nutzos come out and the situation escalates to a creepy and horrific end.

I enjoyed this short story.  I think I liked it even better than the previous Lovecraft stories I read, Herbert West, Re-animator and From Beyond.  I really need to delve into some of the Cthulhu stories.  Lovecraft’s writings have sort of the “creeping dread” atmosphere that keeps you on the edge of your seat feeling like something just isn’t “right”.  Very effective.

A few tidbits of Lovecraftian mythos make appearances in this story.  One of the characters who briefly visits the mummy is awesomely named Swami Chandraputra, which is a known alias for Randolph Carter, one of Lovecraft’s recurring characters.  There are several Dark Gods listed in this story, two of them being previously mentioned as a part of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  Lastly, the previous curator of the museum who actually discovers the mummy is named Pickman and shares this name with the painter in Lovecraft’s story Pickman’s Model.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: HP Lovecraft’s From Beyond (1986) review

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2014 by Paxton

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Well, this week has been Stuart Gordon Week. All of this week’s content has been leading up to my Fangoria Movie Friday review of Stuart’s 1986 horror classic, From Beyond.  The movie, like the previous The Re-animator, was based on an HP Lovecraft short story.

From Beyond poster

You’ve seen this week how much Fangoria was in love with the idea of this movie.  I remember it all over the magazine back in the mid 80s.  For some reason, even though I love Re-animator, I had never watched this movie.  But now I have.  And it’s not bad.

The premise is rather interesting.  A machine called “The Resonator” stimulates your pineal gland to allow you to see other dimensions which causes creepy creatures to manifest all around you.  And the more you are exposed to the effects of “The Resonator” the more it changes you.  Dr Pretorius and his assistant, Dr Tillinghast, who created the machine, turn it on and see these weird creatures appear.  Suddenly an accident occurs where Pretorius is seemingly killed and his assistant locked up in an asylum for the murder (an asylum because he’s spouting gibberish about inter dimensional creatures killing the doctor).  A beautiful psychologist, Dr McMichaels, believes the assistant is innocent and convinces him to take her to “The Resonator” to investigate the crime scene and they are accompanied by the awesome Detective Bubba Brownlee.  And lots of horror and interdimensional craziness occurs.

This movie definitely has a “by the Creators of Re-animator” vibe.  Not just because of the two principles, but the whole feel of the movie is very Re-animator-ish.  Which, of course, I like from the beginning.  Also, with like only 2 or 3 set pieces and only four principle actors, this also has a very stripped down, minimalist feel.  Like we are watching this performance as a bizarre theater production.  It absolutely feels like something you’d go see in a dark theater WAY off Broadway.  And that works in the movie’s favor.

The actors are very good too.  Jeffrey Combs is a little less crazy in this but he’s every bit as manic and interesting as he was in The Re-animator.  Barbara Crampton is great as Dr McMichaels and I still have a huge crush on her.  She doesn’t have an iconic scene in this like she did with the severed head giving her…well…head…in The Re-animator, but we do get a great scene of her in a leather dominatrix outfit.  I was very surprised by Ken Foree as Detective Brownlee.  He was AWESOME even going so far as fighting inter-dimensional creatures in nothing but a red thong.  Seriously.  It’s awesome.  The final principle was Dr Pretorius played by Ted Sorel.  He was the least interesting to me, but he played it fine.  Nothing to complain about, but nothing really to praise either.

Is this as good as The Re-animator?  No, it’s not.  However, it’s a pretty fun little flick and I’d recommend giving it a shot especially if you loved The Re-animator.

I mentioned that this movie was based on a short story of the same name.  I hadn’t read the story either, but since it was only like eight pages I went ahead and read it after I watched the movie.  It’s essentially like a prologue to the movie.  The events in the story are mostly what happens in the beginning of the movie with the machine getting turned on, the creatures showing up and Dr Tillinghast (Pretorius in the movie) getting killed and his best friend/partner taking the rap for it.  It’s not bad, but short.

Let’s look at some of the more choice moments of this movie.

title card Jeffrey Combs
There’s the title card on the left and on the right, the opening shot of the movie which is a cozy image of one Jeffrey Combs, wrapped in a warm fuzzy sweater, biting down on a #2 pencil and drinking from a (vintage!) Coke can as he focuses all of his concentration on typing into that ancient computer that probably runs on a combination of steam and gasoline.

old computers old computer monitor
Here’s more old as the Bible computer machines.  It looks like something Doc Brown would have in his basement.  Check out the monitor colors on the right.  Green background with blue writing?  We honestly didn’t care about our retinas in the 80s, did we?

Barbara Crampton
Here’s the psychologist Dr McMichaels played by the lovely Barbara Crampton. Those giant 80s glasses are so f**king adorable.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Fangoria #59 – HP Lovecraft’s From Beyond (1986)

Posted in Fangoria, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, magazine, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by Paxton

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I mentioned this week is Stuart Gordon Week.Today’s image is the cover to Fangoria #59 from 1986 featuring a story on Stuart Gordon’s second HP Lovecraft adaptation, From Beyond.  Which, as I revealed to you, is going to be my review for Fangoria Movie Friday this week.  This particular issue of Fangoria is one of my favorites and sharp eyed readers should notice that this particular issue’s logo should look familiar (hint: you’ll see it again on Friday).

As always, click to see it on Flickr, BIGGER.

Fangoria 59


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2014: Fangoria Scream Great #39 – From Beyond (1987)

Posted in Fangoria, Genres, horror, magazine, monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2014 by Paxton

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Starting today every post is going to be about the movie I’m going to review on Friday.  And that movie is to be Stuart Gordon’s second Lovecraft adaptation, From Beyond, from 1986.  Fangoria was kind of in love with this movie and featured it on covers and in multiple featured articles during the film’s production.  Not surprising since Gordon’s previous movie, The Re-animator, was a huge surprise horror hit. Plus Gordon was bringing along his two Re-animator stars, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, along to star in the new movie.

Here’s Fangoria’s Scream Greats Poster #39 featuring an image from HP Lovecraft’s From Beyond. This poster was from Fangoria #64 (1987).

Scream Greats #23


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: The Re-animator (1985)

Posted in 80s, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about the 1985 cult horror film classic, Re-animator starring Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.

The Reanimator

I have seen this movie previously. I watched it numerous times during my Fangoria “horror” phase. In the late 80s-early 90s I was a “gore hound”. I loved splatter films. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead. All of them. Fangoria was my favorite magazine and it clued me in on many other awesome horror movies that were out for me to rent on the burgeoning VHS rental market.  This was one I discovered in the pages of that awesome magazine.

Re-animator is based on the original Lovecraft short story, Herbert West – Reanimator.  It’s not a direct adaptation, though.  The movie takes many of the characters and some of the situations and re-imagines them a bit.  While the Lovecraft story is sort of an homage to the original Shelley Frankenstein, the movie is a parody of both the Lovecraft and Shelley stories.  It takes the elements of horror and the macabre from Lovecraft’s story and infuses much dark humor into the situations.

Some might think that this movie doesn’t fit into the traditional “zombie” genre.  Herbert West is re-animating the dead, so his creations are, in effect, zombies.  Though maybe not the mindless brain-eating zombies popularized by Night of the Living Dead and Return of the Living Dead.  You could probably also throw this movie into the “mad scientist” genre.

The plot revolves around Herbert West.  Newly arrived at the Miskatonic University medical school.  He rents a room from Dan Cain, student and boyfriend to Megan, the daughter of the medical school dean.  Things start going awry when Dan discovers that Herbert is performing medical experiments with a brand new serum he’s invented for bringing the dead back to life.  Dan and Megan are drawn into Herbert’s deadly machinations as the bodies not only begin to fall, but continue to rise up again.

Herbert West - Jeffrey Combs

I can see the elements of Lovecraft’s story that were re-imagined as I watch this movie.  Herbert constantly wanting fresher dead bodies, Dean Halsey becoming a zombie and being institutionalized and reanimating a head separate from the body.  Now that I’ve read the story it’s cool to see this in the movie I know so well.  The story in this movie covers roughly the first two parts of Lovecraft’s story.

As the movie started, I was sort of surprised at how blatantly the score rips off Herrmann’s Psycho score with the violins.  And, for what is essentially a B-grade horror movie, the effects hold up fairly well.  And while the acting is understandably, not great, the performance of Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West is nothing short of awesome.  He plays the role with such earnest seriousness it makes the craziness all around him seem that much more crazy.

This film is sort of famous for the “head” scene later in the movie (you should know what I mean).  And it’s every bit as awesomely weird and crazy as I remembered.  So, yes, this film still holds up pretty well for me.  I enjoyed watching it again.  The film did well enough that it got like three sequels.  I haven’t watched any of them.

However, the title of the first sequel should clue you into how much of a Frankenstein parody this series really is; Bride of Re-animator.


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