|Posted by Tronyn on 2003/08/05 18:10:29|
|I thought Lovecraft would make a good topic for discussion here, since I'm sure the ratio of Lovecraft readers here is much higher than average. Discuss Lovecraft's ideas/philosophy, and also works of art/music/literature which attempt to capture Lovecraft's vision and whether they succeed or fail.
I've read the following compilations of work written in imitation of Lovecraft:
"The Disciples of Cthulu":
This contains a mixed bag. There are two incredible stories: The Terror From the Depths by Fritz Leiber and Darkness, My Name Is by Eddy C. Burglund (or some last name like that). Particularly the latter is amazing. The rest are either half-decent or abysmal.
"Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos":
A recent collection that pretty much stinks. There was one story that qualified as interesting; the rest were garbage.
"The Children of Cthulu" is another compilation that I saw for sale, but it looked so trashy that I didn't even pick it up.
I've also read "The Burrowers Beneath" by Brian Lumley, and "The Transition of Titus Crow" which follows upon it. The first book is quite good, Lumley's concept for a new type of Lovecraftian monster that inhabits the earth's core is very original and very cool. However, about 3/4 of the way through the first book, it starts to suck: it becomes like Lovecraft meets Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6, and that just sucks. An elite team of Cthulu monster eliminating specialists? BAH!!!!
The entire second book is so far over the top that, despite having some interesting ideas and being written well, it is just ridiculous. "Transition" is like Lovecraft meets H.G. Wells - something else so inappropriate it could never work.
Everyone probably agrees that John Carpenter's "The Thing" both is Lovecraftian and kicks much ass. But don't even get me started on how lame it is of id to rip monsters from that film for Doom3. "In The Mouth Of Madness" by the same director crosses Lovecraft's ideas with some Steven King style stuff, and it works out quite well. The movie is extremely, extremely over-the-top.
"Dagon" is a recent adaptation of Shadow Over Innsmouth, and is not horrible, but fails to capture the disturbingness of the story properly.
I've heard someone call the movie "Pi" Lovecraftian, and that could work on some level, but not a literal one.
There's always "The Thing That Should Not Be" back from the classic Metallica days, as well as "The Call of the Ktulu" by the same group from the same period. Both are very good.
Fields of the Nephilim apparently have a lot of Lovecraftian references in their music, but their inclusion of Sumerian mythology suggests perhaps they were suckers for the hoaxed Necronomicon which stated that Lovecraft's mythos was an adaptation of Sumerian mythology.
And in one song by Joy Division:
"An abyss that laughs at creation
A circus complete with all fools
Foundations that lasted the ages
Then ripped apart at their roots
Beyond all this good is the terror
The grip of a mercenary hand
When savagery turns for good reason
There's no turning back, no last stand"
That's probably enough blabbing by me for now, I'm sure others will have plenty to say.
PS: Also, last time I was at the bookstore I noticed that Penguin Classics had issued a book in their series entitled "The Call of Cthulu and Other Stories" by H.P. Lovecraft. Imagine Lovecraft finally being accepted as a canonical writer, alongside the likes of Dostoyevsky and other "real" and respected authors. Perhaps English profs won't be able to sneer so confidently at his work now...
Never Read Lovecraft
#1 posted by nitin
on 2003/08/05 21:08:16
so I'm interested in how 'the thing' is lovecraftian?
#2 posted by Vondur
on 2003/08/06 01:37:46
Yes, HPL is the source of inspiration for me. Some of the maps i made were influenced by his novels. I like his archaic style of writing, it helps to sink into the dark atmosphere.
The most impressive things for me are 'At The Mountains Of Madness' and 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'.
Recently, i discovered that there are his followers like Clark Ashton Smith, so i started hunting for their books as well. Got CAS' first book called "The Black Diamonds" but haven't read it yet. Only thing i know he wrote in in the age of 15 :)
As for the movies based on HPL's books, i haven't seen a quality one. That Dagon movie is funny, but not scary. Probably because i imagined absolutely different/scarier things when reading the original.
But i'm interested in the upcoming game 'The Call of Cthulu'. Screenies are rather nice there.
There are times when i'm strongly into the HPL mood, and then the new qsp map can be spawned suddenly....
#3 posted by Tronyn on 2003/08/06 02:48:35
Yes there are a few Lovecraft "followers" that are actually very good (though most are poor). Another good source of Lovecraft-like work can be found among those he names as influences - particularly Algernon Blackwood, whose stories surpass Lovecraft's for atmosphere but lack the overall philosophy.
I have to agree that "Mountains" and "Shadow" (over innsmouth, not out of time) are definately Lovecraft's best long work. His other novellas - Shadow out of Time, Dream Quest, Case of Charles Dexter - aren't really as good. "The Dreams in the Witch House" is probably my favourite for how disturbing it is, and then there's always From Beyond, which seems to capture his general philosophy in a few short pages.
Nitin: Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness is a story about a research team in the Antarctic that finds the remains of a city impossibly old - hundreds of millions of years, so old that humans or even organic life as we know it couldn't have built them. The setting (Antarctic), concept (research team discovers something alien) and idea that there is an older race than men somewhere on earth bears much resemblance to The Thing. Not only that, but the monster - The Thing itself - bears much resemblance to Lovecraft's description of monsters who morph and change form as they move - Shoggoths for example, are described in the story as having things like temporary eyes, being shape-shifting and etc. Though the Thing's abilites are explained through DNA sampling and imitation (much like the T-1000 in Terminator 2), the horrible crosses between man, beast, alien with morphing qualities are very similar to some of the monsters Lovecraft describes.
However, The Thing is, I believe, based on a story written in the 1950s entitled "Who Goes There" by some author whom I forget. Interestingly enough, apparently the guy who directed Blade 2 (decent action movie, decent budget) has got a film version of AtMoM coming up at some point in the future.
Why Do I Need A Title For A Post?
#4 posted by Vermeulen on 2003/08/06 06:42:33
I was hoping you would mention From Beyond.
But saying music or games is based off of lovecraft is just ridiculus.
The lovecraft game in the works will just basicly be another FPS, walk around and shoot things, with a basic storyline envolving some lovecraft creature such as Lor or Azathoth. That is not really the lovecraft philosophy.
And i have no idea how lovecraft inspired music works... I guess it just tells a basic lovecraft type story?
I hope your kidding about blade2 being a decent action movie...
Also, if you want the highest ratio of lovecraft readers, I would suggest go to 2d Art forums.
Good logo to use for this topic btw.
#5 posted by nitin
on 2003/08/06 08:25:03
I know it's off topic but anyway.
I like it as an action flick. It's not pretentious like many other films ( in the genre in fact I dont think it gives a toss about story at all), the fight scenes are cool and there's some genuine gothicy atmosphere throughout the movie. Plus there's a decent amount of different fight scenes too, which is good (hello wachowski brothers!).
#6 posted by Vermeulen on 2003/08/06 09:15:04
I don't really want to turn this into a discussion about blade2...but...
First of all the fight scenes were not better than the first, and either was the style or the story, they all were a part of the sequal equation.
Basicly what they did, was just twist the story line again, make the main character(s) team up with the enemy, and fight a new villian (you might say this is just descriping blade2, but this is the same for: Xmen2, Fast and Furious 2, Men in Black 2, etc)
#7 posted by R.P.G.
on 2003/08/06 09:28:02
However, The Thing is, I believe, based on a story written in the 1950s entitled "Who Goes There" by some author whom I forget.
Shamelessly ripped from IMDb: "This was based on the classic short story "Who Goes There?" by Don A. Stuart. The credits on this film list the author by his real name, the acclaimed science fiction editor/writer John W. Campbell, Jr."
Also, "Who Goes There?" was first made into a movie in 1951 in the movie The Thing From Another World.
And with regards to works based off Lovecraft stories, I should say that the game Blood (and subsequently Blood 2, as well) has many Lovecraftian references. Some of the locals are pretty obvious (Miskatonic Station, Pickman's Used Books, etc.), and the game takes place sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, right when other Lovecraft stories do. Also, the idea of a controlling and evil god (Tchernobog) resonates with Lovecraft.
And I doubt many of you have taken notice of any of the derivative Blair Witch works, but the back story involves (once again) an evil and controlling god named Heciotomix, and there are several different planes of existence that the characters enter to fulfill various quests. This is the part where I plug the Blair Witch Volume 1 game as a fun and interesting action/adventure/horror game that you all should buy or download.
#8 posted by [Vigil]
on 2003/08/06 11:05:19
I don't really want to turn this into a discussion about blade2
Too late! But let's not get carried away.
You people should try The Call of Cthulhu RPG, too, by none other than Sandy Petersen.
#9 posted by R.P.G.
on 2003/08/06 12:26:36
You people should try The Call of Cthulhu RPG, too, by none other than Sandy Petersen.
...Who created possibly the worst levels ever released with a commercial game.
#10 posted by starbuck
on 2003/08/06 13:03:25
thats something for his cv, though
#11 posted by Tronyn on 2003/08/06 17:14:54
If you've read any previews of The Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth, you'd know that they're incorporating a lot more than "run around and shoot things gameplay." One preview states that entering the game, you have already lost, simply be being in a world where the Old Ones exist. There are other things like the sanity-meter, something that measures the player's sanity, and gameplay is affected accordingly. Also, the player will apparently spend a good deal of time doing research and talking to NPCs, as opposed to simply blowing away monsters. The Lovecraft philosophy - that humanity is entirely irrelevant, and not only that, but also screwed over completely - should be present in the game.
And Blade2 was a good action film.
#12 posted by Scragbait on 2003/08/06 17:43:39
I've been interested in the new game for awhile. I hope it has good atmosphere and isn't frustratingly difficult (which spoils immersion.)
How is cthulhu pronounced? Sch-thul-who?
#13 posted by Scragbait on 2003/08/06 17:44:50
I also bought a used compilation of his stories. I have only finished a few.
It's pronounced Kuh-THOO-lu, if I remember what my old copy of the RPG said.
Sandy Petersons Maps
#15 posted by scar3crow on 2003/08/07 01:00:58
were ugly, but very fun to play... and their odd blend of ugliness and randomness in my opinion added to the otherworldly feel that is Doom. hell shouldnt be structured.
same goes for Quake, he did the 4th episode which is the Elder world, which really shouldnt make much sense... he made good use of lighting and some neat tricks in his maps.
in a way i think he was the best mapper, in that his maps didnt look just like anyone elses... and it really did help create the sense of an otherworld.
#16 posted by Tronyn on 2003/08/07 02:32:35
Though episode two I think is the best (I guess Romero is good for something), I don't hate E4 nearly as much as everyone else. Who can despise The Elder God Shrine or the Palace of Hate? or what about the surreal coolness of Azure Agony?
I am not denying that Peterson's style gets very weird and features useless architecture often, but there is much good to be seen in E4.
#17 posted by Shambler
on 2003/08/07 18:33:12
...was the shittest by a considerable margin. E1, E2, and E3 all have their distinct and invidual charm (I prefer E1 for the mapping, but E3 for the theme), while E4 is vague and haphazard. Never-the-less I do find a few maps appealing - E4M5 has some cool design features, the donut of E4M4 is really rather cool, and there's other odd little features dotted around (shrines, graveyards). I also understand where people are getting at with the atmosphere, it is even more dislocated than Quake in general* - unfortunately that is not adequately supported with refined mapping - once can make something that is fucked up but also well made (Elek's "Darkness" I think has captured the spirit of E4 well, but with much better mapping).
* This is also noticably in the gameplay, full of odd traps, mad spawning monsters (E4M3!), excessive power-ups etc, which I think works well enough to add character.
#18 posted by Shambler
on 2003/08/07 18:34:09
....I think I have just managed to argue against myself that the margin of shitness was not nearly as considerable as I first stated.
knows lots about Lovecraft, but he seems to have disappeared, gone on vacation or soemthing.
I am thinking about doing a lovecraft Page at my site.
I have read a few of his stories and love them.
#20 posted by Kell
on 2003/08/12 16:52:58
I have not disappeared, I just didn't want to rehash the same old stuff I've posted before.
The matter of Lovecraft in movies is always a troublesome one. R.P.G. linked me to a site a while ago ( http://www.gizmology.net/lovecraft/movies/critique.htm
) where an author drew the distinction between Lovecraft
movies and Lovecraftian
movies; the former being those that are specifically based, and often titled, after some component of the Mythos e.g. Dagon, Necronomocon ( a passable TV movie triplet in the Tales From The Crypt mould ) and Cthulhu Mansion. The latter are those that have a more implicit connection to the mythos, yet capture its essence e.g. The Thing and Alien. The former tend to be rather cheesy, as though the movie makers simply cannot accept the mythos as anything more than 'rag-tag band of characters set upon by tentacled horror' and often contain painfully stilted scenes of explanatory dialogue, paraphrsing chunks of the mythos, or Vincent Price hamming it up as some tin pot occultist. The latter are generally superior and deal with tensions of mood and time rather than action.
There are plenty of other 'survival' movies that ostensibly contain Lovecraftian elements - Pitch Black ( whos sinuous nocturnal creatures can only be Night Gaunts :) ), Phantoms, Deep Rising, Leviathan, Sphere etc. etc. Whether or not they are Lovecraftian depends more on what surrounds the creatures than the creatures themselves. With most movies, as with other media, Lovecraftian themes or elements crop up all the time but alongside other stuff like action and high tech.
One of the most Lovecraftian films I've seen recently is the Australian classic Picnic At Hanging Rock. There's not a tentacle or blasphemous tome in sight, but the atmosphere and suggestion of something primal and hungry tugging at the characters' stiff, aristocratic and repressed world is overwhelming. It's commonly understood now that the best way to depict a monster/ghost/entity in a movie is subtly and sparingly, because what the audience sees is not as scary as what they think
they see; Ridley Scott realised this and cut most of the Alien out of his movie. You could view Picnic At Hanging Rock as the ultimate extension of this - the creature movie where there is no creature. There are other ways to view it too.
With regards other writers, some of the best stuff I've read is published by Chaosium ( the publishers of the COC RPG ). Stories are collected, edited and introduced by Robert M. Price, who also includes a few of his own works, and divided by subject matter. Each anthology is focused on one of the key entities of the mythos, such as Azathoth or The Necronomicon, and the stories span many years, authors and interpretations. Price has some of the best comprehension and erudition of the mythos ever and really helps to connect it all together.
The only Lumley I've read were his short story compilations. Interestingly enough, the stuff I enjoyed most were his shorts not based directly on Lovecraft, collected together in Fruiting Bodies And Other Fungi. Cool stuff. His treatment of the familiar mythos always struck me as a tad amatuerish and literal.
As for Lovecraft being granted literary credibility, in one introduction I read ( possibly one of Price's ) it mentioned that Jorge Louise Borge had dedicated a short story of his, published in an American magazine, to H.P. Lovecraft. I think many writers probably do regard Lovecraft as important; it's his association with schlock horror by critics and even readers that seems to be the problem.
BTW Tronyn, the Nephilim are anything but suckers. It sounds like you have neither the mind nor soul to appreciate Carl's music, lyrics or beliefs. The hoax Necronomicon doesn't state that Lovecraft was explicitly
basing his mythos on Sumerian mythology. Lovecraft didn't base any of his ideas explicitly on anything; there are elements of hindu, hebrew and egyptian in the names and deities of the mythos, but his intention was not to create a pantheon that directly imitated any one of those ( which is what most generic fantasy/scif-fi does ). The book simply draws parallels with Lovecraft, the magical system of Aleister Crowley and Sumerian mythology, the contrast being against the more common and in fact more historically recent ideas of good/evil dualism. And considering it's a hoax, the effect Carl achieved by drawing on it for inspiration is as genuine as it gets. But to say any more would, I fear, be pearls before swine.
It Wasn't I
#21 posted by R.P.G.
on 2003/08/12 17:36:17
R.P.G. linked me to a site a while ago ( http://www.gizmology.net/lovecraft... )
As much as I would like to be associated with something useful, I'm afraid that I cannot honestly take credit for having shown you that site.
#22 posted by R.P.G.
on 2003/08/12 17:37:02
#23 posted by Kell
on 2003/08/12 18:06:11
ok, maybe it was a different site. Or a different R.P.G. Or a different me? Spooky.
#24 posted by Kell
on 2003/08/12 22:03:29
A comic book that has a fair amount of Lovecraft influence is the Hellboy series ( by Mike Mignola, who also did an Aliens graphic novel, Salvation ).
The long-awaited AvP movie is apparently to be set in present day Antarctica, where a research team discover ancient monuments beneath the icecap.
And I got this in my inbox recently: http://www.applelust.com/oped/editorials/archives/monks_030801.shtml
- Kthulhu Fhtagn
It Is Time
#25 posted by R.P.G.
on 2003/08/12 22:14:22
I think now would be a good time to insert this lovely drawing by biff:
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