(August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937)
(August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937)
The Keeper of the Pit
Butt, I digest. Spooking of gibbous moons, August heat or snow, today (August 20th) marks the birthday of 1 of America’s most enduring horror writers, the redoubtable H.P. Lovecraft. Spurned by serious critics, beloved of pro horror writers from Bloch to King, Lovecraft has yet to be filmed by Horrorweird, uh, Hollywood with the cosmic dread he so deserves. In fact, most of the sinematic product debased on H.P. (scum would say those initials stood for Heap Pulpy!) have either so far botched, or even ignored his scarefully constructed Cthulhu Mythos, that it can be safe to say without digging too deep that said sad movies surely have ole Howard Phillips revolting in his grave! Before I start with my Pnak o’ tic-king people off, let’s list the Horrorweird Lovecraft product chronologi-killy by coffin up some titles!
1963: Midway through his Poe cycle at AIP, director Roger Corman mixed Poe’s commercial pull with HPL’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward & concocted an odd brew indead. Uh, deed. Heavy on fog & loaded with cheap-o mutant make-up, THE HAUNTED PALACE boasts a fine horror cast: Vincent Price Arkhams it up nicely, Lon Chaney, Jr. bloats about looking like Dan Blocker (the monster sez maybe Lon thought Corman was shooting HOSS OF USHER), & Debra Paget does some fancy dangling over an unspeakably foul Pit. Hey, even though Corman’s Elder beast looks pretty ghouled in THAT pit, ole Deb can come to this Pit anyslime, uh, time. Allow me to be her dangling particiPANT!
1965: Director Daniel Haller left the Corman/Poe set duties long enuff to turn HPL’s The Colour Out of Space into a ghouled-looking but empty vehicle of the crashing kind for AIP called DIE, MONSTER, DIE! Fellow Pencilneckgeekian, I mean, Pennsylvanian Nick Adams wants to plow Susan Farmer, but family Elder Boris Karloff doesn’t carrot all for the idea & wood rather he’d leaf. Something from one of dose meateater Showers is turning relatives into shambling kooks, & it’s only a matter of slime before we learn what lurks in the greenhouse is not that witch AIP wanted us at the time to believe: lamely, er, namely Boris Karloff in his first monster role in years. Karloff was appropriately too Elderly to do the catwalk stuntwork, & that’s putting it wheelchair-itably!
1966: Carol Lynley, Gig Young & Oliver Reed star in the nondescriPIT THE SHUDDERED ROOM, about which the less said the deader. Truly a SLUGgothic!
1970: Corman produced & Haller directed a goofy cast with THE DUNWICH HORROR, witch ALMOST makes it as Lovecraft. Sandra Dee spends a lot of time with the Necronomicon nestled in her lap, witch of curse cultist Dean Stockwell wants to view from a closer dangle. The elements of madness, unseen monstrosity & small-town closer-dangle-mindedness might have worked a bit better without kissing covens scenes witch come off hippy dippy. Then again, that was the youth market at the time, so what the Sebek, they throw in a rip-out from ROSEMARY’S BOO-BOO for witch later prints have no womb. All in all, though, particularly on the strength of the Les Baxter soundtrack witch the ole Keep can hum at the drop of the bat, this baby works better as Lovecraft than the rest of the stuff Hollywood tries to fetus!
1985: Fifteen years later seems like an eons-long gap, but Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR remains the most graph-yecch Lovecraft horror flick, with the axe-scent on remains. Precious little Lovecraft, but it does give new meaning to giving head (and boy is Barb Crampton’s face AlhazRED!).
1986: Stuart Gordon remain-ed with Lovecraft’s material, however short, with FROM BEYOND. Again, hard on the graph-yecchs, & yet as far as conjuring bizarre Lovecraftian critters goes, this knocks all the udders to Witches Hollow (& to the goddess Barb Crampton the Keeper’s glands gladly pikneel!).
1987: Lovecraft’s remains revolted from the late Empire for a Transworld trip with THE CURSE. Shot by Italo horrormeisters & director David Keith downhome South in the ghouled ole U.S.A., this meateateric descent flick is everything AIP’s virgin version of The Colour Out of Space should have been. There’s axe-ually development of fear with loathing here as a farm family watches first their crops, then their loved ones turn into alien sludge. Timely, cornsidering the drought witch hit rural America this year of 1988. Slimely, in that rather than getting browner and drier, things got sheenier and greenier. Mudder of fact, this whole movie looks green from frame one. Even the tomatoes look green (Ah, but stink how they taste once they get Innsmouth!).
1988: Like every HPL-debased product here, why should the direek-to-video THE UNNAMEABLE rate with more than a schlock paragraph? Answer: it shouldn’t. No reekcognizable names (at this point in slime, anyway) in this one, & yet one can’t help but pun-der, can these guys take an 8-page HPL story witch amounted to little more than a gust of wind from devoid & make a more faithful to the source (or even a more horrific) PITure than did big names like Haller, Corman & Gordon? Of curse they can’t, but they give it the old college try, & I do mean college. After breezing through those 8 pages, our boys at Miskatonic U. engage in some drippy patter with the loco-eds, bet who can stay in the loco haunted Hoss, uh, house the longest, & instead tread the waters of space and time furiously and as fast as they Zann. Hey, college kids in horror flicks always get into sects and violins.". There IS gore, there IS a decent (of typical Lovecraft relatives) monster, but most of this film seems to do its beast not killing monsters, jest space and time. The dePITion of Miskatonic U. is even more Yuggoth the mark than Corman’s, & about 80 descent, uh, % of this meateater mess is jest FRIDAY THE 13TH-type hung, er, young guys hunging out with campuss cuties wading through the grade sheets to see if they HACK it. Then again, Heap Pulpy Lovecraft knew the value of hacking THINGS out, too, so who knows? Perhaps, were HPL working this year of 1988 as a Horrorweird writer of tombs he too might be filling hideous voids of time, slime & space with scum, uh, comely co-eds who want to Marsh into Obed, & who say things like “No R’lyeh! Yer jest Tcho-Tcho much!”
So there ya have it, the scumplete HPLovecraft filmography, hex-cluding various episodes of NIGHT GALLERY & the cartoon GHOSTBUSTERS. As far as true grue Lovecraftian glop “from beyond” ghouls, uh, goes, it’s sleazy to smell without spooking too far that Horrorweird has yet to nail down anyTHING much of Lovecraft but the barest of bones. So, until the ole Keep finishes his casting call for THE DUMB WITCH HORROR, surely to, Ry'leh, be shockin' schlock full of mystery and tear-her (blouse off), this is it for HPL PITure product as yet unleashed. Hope Yuggoth off on it!
Whoa, the monster’s Wright! Whatever his farm's worth, the monster hopes none of dose meateater showers falls (gibbous moon, gibbous moon!) down on him. Time to ghoul inside, listen to scum rock & ghoul. Letch see, what the Sebek would be ex-Poe-riate?
Well, of curse, it’s the last Page of this review! Of curse, what deader, er, better choice to play HPL revolting in his grave than to give this a spin. We didn’t Plant it this way, but here it is, make no Jones about it! The one, the bonely “Dead Zeppelin” and one of their gravest hits!
Da dumb da dumb dumb dumbdumbdawitch da dumb-dumb dumb dumb dadadadumbdumb!
“Got Cthulhu Lotta Love!”
(Originally published in Temple of Schlock #11, September 1988)