Moore on Lovecraft

Providence01-WomenofHPL-600x927  Providence04-portrait

From The Quietus, Nick Talbot , August 31st, 2014:

Towards the end of a recent interview with Alan Moore on his relationship with the writer Iain Sinclair our conversation drifted towards another topic: Moore’s upcoming Lovecraftian work Providence. A huge number of writers, including Ramsey Campbell, Colin Wilson, Steven King and Robert Bloch have contributed to the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’, the shared fictional world created by H.P. Lovecraft, in a tradition Lovecraft himself encouraged via voluminous correspondence with younger acolytes. As a result of his creative generosity, Lovecraft occupies a rare status as a writer whose vision has taken on a life of its own. While much written work suffers a reductive blow when undergoing adaptation, by respectfully borrowing elements from Lovecraft’s world, new comics, games and films contribute to its expansion, and the Cthulhu Mythos creeps further into popular culture every year.

Yet Lovecraft has rarely been judged a good writer, and many decades of critical derision – often objecting to his tendency for baroque adjectives – relegated him to the status of an eccentric hack in an already ghettoised genre. But as the Cthulhu cult became too popular to ignore, the last decade has seen a growing stream of Zeitgeist-wary cultural theorists publishing analytical works focusing on various aspects of his vast imagination, and Lovecraft is now finally taken seriously as a writer of ideas.

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Chamblin Bookmine, Part One of Seven

The following was written by the always interesting Tim Gilmore on his blog, Jax Psycho Geo.

Source: Chamblin Bookmine, Part One of Seven

But after what happened with Manson in His Own Words: The Shocking Confessions of “The Most Dangerous Man Alive,” I was too ashamed to go back.

Even years later, when I’d assumed enough time had passed, Ron would give me a deal on a stack of books for trade-in, standing behind the cash register, with his mussed white hair and thin steel-framed glasses, and he’d joke with Frank, “Uh oh, better look out, he’s doing it to us again.”

In the years in between, I missed the strange steep back staircase that ascended to the dark and cramped second floor, and I missed the incongruous juxtaposition of poetry and horror fiction up there in the dark. I remembered particular purchases, Rimbaud’s Illuminations and Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil on the poetry side, and the cheap 1970s Ballantine paperback of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear on the horror side.

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Dark Intruder: Forerunner to The Night Stalker?

Thanks to Braineater, here’s a better-than-average made-for-TV movie that seems almost like a forerunner of The Night Stalker, but in some ways is actually better than the Night Stalker (in my humble opinion). Webmaster Will Laughlin says:

Intended as the pilot for a TV series called “The Black Cloak”, Dark Intruder is one of the earliest movies to reference H.P. Lovecraft and his pantheon directly — the movie generally credited as the first real Lovecraft adaptation, Roger Corman’sThe Haunted Palace (based on “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”) came out in 1963. Dark Intruder is not based on any of Lovecraft’s stories, but it bears a strong resemblance to “Charles Dexter Ward”, and its thematic concern with the loss of identity aligns it strongly with other examples of Lovecraft’s writing, including “The Thing on the Doorstep”, “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and “The Evil Clergyman”.

Read entire review at Braineater

Weird Fiction is Thriving on the Vine

Great good news! Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have launched a very promising online journal dedicated to the examination and enjoyment of outré literature, called Weird Fiction Review. Not only does the first issue contain an interview with Neil Gaiman, I see on GalleyCat that “the journal will maintain a ‘symbiotic relationship’ with S.T. Joshi’s print journal, The Weird Fiction Review.” This is a very good thing, Joshi being one of the world’s foremost scholars of the uncanny genres.

I like the way Jeff and Ann refer to their project as “a non-denominational approach that appre­ciates Love­craft but also Kafka, Angela Carter and Clark Ash­ton Smith, Shirley Jack­son and Fritz Leiber — along with the next gen­er­a­tion of weird writ­ers and inter­na­tional weird.” That quote is also from GalleyCat, and here’s a link to the entire article.

But Ann and Jeff VanderMeer didn’t stop there. They have a new book out. You know those old, weird/horror/sci-fi anthologies I like to talk about in my Bill’s Bookshelf series? Most of those books are from the 1960s or 70s, but here’s a brand new collection that carries on the tradition and brings it into the 21st Century. It’s called The Weird: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Stories. This ambitious labor of love  boasts over one hundred years of weird fiction collected in a single volume, representing  more than 20 nationalities, with seven new translations. Check out the table of contents.

Apparently, when Weird Tales magazine decided to replace Ann VanderMeer as editor, the magazine’s loss was our gain. Ann & Jeff’s book-life is flourishing like the verdant foliage of Ambergris.

Bill’s Bookshelf Number 3: The Ghouls

The Ghouls

Edited by Peter Haining

Published in 1971 by Stein and Day

They pulled out all the stops on this one: Introduction by Vincent Price, Afterword by Christopher Lee, Dedication to Boris Karloff, quote from Alfred Hitchcock leading into the Editor’s Foreword, all designed with the “classic horror movie fan” in mind.

The inside flap tells us that “Peter Haining has collected the stories on which eighteen of the very best horror films were based.”

This is only partly true. You would be hard-pressed, for example, to find anyone who considers Monster of Terror (1965, known in the United States as Die, Monster, Die) a good movie, much less a great movie. It’s based on a story called “The Colour Out of Space” by that paranoid old recluse H. P. Lovecraft. You can read more about the film at Scott Ashlin’s blog, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting.

Several films have been based on The Phantom of the Opera, some good, some terrible. Regarding the inclusion of The Phantom of the Opera in The Ghouls anthology, Mark Hodgson of Black Hole Reviews tells us, “At this point Haining cheats a little, presenting a specially abridged version of Gaston Leroux’ book. But this is a good way to enjoy the story and avoid the overlong sub-plots of opera house politics and romantic rivalry.” and “This condensed version seems to have been trimmed to give us the passages that were translated to the screen for Lon Chaney’s brilliant work.”

I’ve become a big fan of Nikolai Gogol, but I had forgotten that the classic Italian horror film Black Sunday (1960), starring Barbara Steele, was inspired by Gogol’s short story, The Viy. The movie, directed by Maria Bava, has almost nothing to do with Gogol’s story, but both film and story are classics in their own way. 

I didn’t like the beginning Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Feathertop,” on which the movie Puritan Passions (1923) is based, because it starts out too cutesy, like a whimsical fairy tale, with a witch lighting her pipe by magic. But actually, there is a great scene later in the story. The witch has brought a scarecrow to life. The scarecrow, whose name is Feathertop, appears human to everyone who looks at him, but there is a scene in which he is courting a young lady, and he looks in the mirror and sees himself as he really is – a scarecrow – and I thought it was quite a chilling scene. I haven’t seen the movie so I don’t know how the filmmakers handled it.

“The Magician” (1908), by Somerset Maugham, is one of my favorite stories in the book. It’s a simple story involving a young lady who meets a “dabbler in the Black Arts” named Oliver Haddo (the character was based on real-life occultist Aleister Crowley). The bulk of the story is filled with richly atmospheric hallucinatory imagery and I can see why Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer wanted to bring it to the silver screen in 1926. Unfortunately, this seems to be lost film. There is documentation that the movie was made, but no prints have been found.

At this point, I would like to turn the report over to Mark Hodgson of Black Hole Reviews. Enjoy.

Creepy Cut-Up, sort of

Astral Weeks columnist Ed Park finds that horror story quotes take on a life of their own (via the Los Angeles Times).

While assembling my notes for a review of the Library of America anthology “American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny” (Library of America, two volumes, edited by Peter Straub: “From Poe to the Pulps,” 746 pp., $35; “From the 1940s to Now,” 714 pp., $35), I noticed a peculiar thing. The quotes that I had quarried seemed to assemble themselves into a sort of ur-story, a template of the unheimlich. As I stitched together sentences from the works of writers as varied as F. Scott Fitzgerald and H.P. Lovecraft, John Cheever and Kelly Link, something about the common gambits and rhythms, across nearly two centuries, sent a chill through me. The following text has been constructed entirely from sentences found in “American Fantastic Tales.” Each is numbered and identified at the very end.

Read it at The Los Angeles Times