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Showing posts from October, 2013

The Call of Cthulhu

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2005
Dir. Andrew Leman

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." H.P. Lovecraft

First published in Weird Tales in 1922, Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu concerns Francis Wayland Thurston, a young man who is attempting to piece together the circumstances of his great-uncle's death. While looking through the dead man’s possessions he finds a weird manuscript pertaining to an ancient and alien slumbering deity and the despicable acts of it…

The People Under the Stairs

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The People Under the Stairs is an atmospheric and tightly coiled horror film with themes that remain relevant and a dark sense of unease that is still incredibly palpable, unravelling as a compendium of recurring themes and motifs that run throughout much of Wes Craven’s work; race, class, familial strife, generational conflict and the idea of man-made monsters all swirl together in an unhinged and feverishly claustrophobic tale.

With its myriad allusions to the likes of “Hansel and Gretel”, the film unfurls as a nightmarish urban fairytale complete with mutilated innocents imprisoned by wicked parental figures...

To read my full review, and for a chance to win a copy of the film on Blu-ray, head over to Exquisite Terror.

While you’re there, why not pick up an issue or two of Exquisite Terror the periodical. It’s really rather good.

The Resurrected

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Guest post by Christine Hadden

One of the biggest issues that H.P. Lovecraft fans have is the lack of acceptable translation to film of his work. Many films teeter on the edge of the dark precipice of his brilliant stories, but fail to capture the weird yet exceptional storytelling and sinister themes the author is so famous for. The Resurrected (1992), aka Shatterbrain, while certainly not a celebrated film, is one of the most faithful adaptations of a Lovecraft story. Based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, this low-budget, direct-to-video release has the distinction of being directed by the late, great Dan O'Bannon (Alien, Return of the Living Dead) and though apparently it got edited without O'Bannon, it still remains a relatively close conversion from story to film.

Charles Dexter Ward (Chris Sarandon, reason enough to see the film) has alienated his new wife by occupying his time first in the family's carriage house, and then an old family estate well removed from…

Re-Animator

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1985
Dir. Stuart Gordon

When the eccentric Herbert West arrives at Miskatonic University, Arkham, he and a fellow medical student become embroiled in strange experiments to reanimate dead tissue. With horrific consequences. Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story Herbert West – Reanimator, Stuart Gordon’s film is perhaps one of the most successful adaptations of the author’s work, and it triggered a resurgence of cinematic interest in the work of Lovecraft throughout the 80s and 90s. The film is an outrageous blend of splattery special effects, pseudo-sci-fi concepts, comic violence, pitch black humour and vivid horror. At times it boasts a similar madcap tone to Sam Raimi’s earlier splat-stick classic, Evil Dead, as Dr West’s (a manic Jeffrey Combs) increasingly desperate and ludicrous attempts to reanimate corpses reach feverish intensity.

The idea to make Re-Animator stemmed from Gordon’s belief that there were not enough Frankensteinian stories. He believed pop-culture had become s…

Cool Air

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Guest post by Aaron Duenas

It should be said that I'm not an expert on H.P. Lovecraft by any means, but, like every horror buff, I know of, enjoy, and appreciate his work for being so far ahead of its time, and essentially paving the way for many horror authors whose works have affected pop culture, literature, and cinema. I went into this film, and I'm approaching this review, mainly as a fan of director Albert Pyun, who recently retired due to health problems. He's a filmmaker who's primarily worked in the straight-to-video market. Some of his more notable films include Cyborg (a favorite of mine), The Sword and the Sorcerer, and Vicious Lips. So when I found out that Pyun directed a Lovecraft adaptation, to say that I was curious would be an understatement.

Cool Air, which was apparently produced back in 2006 but sat on the shelf for seven years before being released in 2013, is based on Lovecraft's short story of the same name. There have been other adaptations …

My Amityville Horror

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The terrifying paranormal events that allegedly took place in 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, inspired Jay Anson’s 1977 book The Amityville Horror: A True Story and the 1979 film The Amityville Horror - and its seemingly unending barrage of sequels and remakes. Over the years the validity of the alleged occurrences has been the centre of intense debate and scrutiny, with the Lutz family branded opportunistic frauds. Prominent figures involved in the investigations, from journalists and parapsychologists, to news producers and psychologists, have since weighed in with their opinions, accusations and theories regarding the family and what they claim happened in the house.

Eric Walter’s recent documentary is interesting because it features a subject who has remained silent about the whole debacle since his involuntary involvement in it as a child. Daniel Lutz was 10 when he moved to 112 Ocean Drive, and what becomes obvious from the outset of My Amityville Horror is that, regardless of wh…

Lord of Tears

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2013
Dir. Lawrie Brewster

After the death of his estranged mother, school teacher James Findlay returns to his childhood home, a lonely mansion in the Scottish Highlands, in an attempt to lay the ghosts of his past to rest. Tormented since a boy by dreams of a strange and terrifying entity – a figure dressed in Victorian attire, with elongated limbs, sharp talons and an owl head - James faces a descent into madness and his only hope is to banish the evil presence that haunts him. With the help of a mysterious young woman he begins to uncover the chilling truth behind his immortal stalker…

Set in the remote Highlands of Scotland, and inspired by the unsettling and bleak tales of H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen and the creepy Slender Man mythology, Lord of Tears is a gothic chiller that slowly unfurls in an immensely atmospheric and nightmarish manner. Writer Sarah Daly and director Brewster seamlessly fuse together an array of influences – the aforementioned Lovecraftian mythos and Sle…

The Haunted Palace

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1963
Dir. Roger Corman

While it takes its name from a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, The Haunted Palace is actually an adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. It’s still regarded as one of the titles in Corman’s Poe cycle, not only because of its title, but because of its shared aesthetic; a gloomily literate script, unyieldingly grim atmosphere, preoccupation with death and mourning, and a household plagued by its dark secrets. There is also the presence of one Vincent Price, a stalwart of Corman’s Poe adaptations. While the director had actually been keen to move away from Poe adaptations, he was persuaded not to buck the trend by producers, as their Poe films had been immensely successful. A compromise was reached - the film would be an adaptation of Lovecraft, but would take its title from a poem by Poe. It successfully entwines the themes and sensibilities of both writers and emerges as one of the best horror films made by Corman at this time.

Lovecraft’s story c…

Dagon

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2001
Dir. Stuart Gordon

Despite its title, Gordon’s film is not an adaptation of Lovecraft’s short story of the same name. While it certainly borrows elements and themes from it, Dagon is an adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Lovecraft’s 1936 novella which tells of a Miskatonic University student’s fateful visit to the titular dilapidated coastal town to study the architecture and weird folklore. While there, he encounters hostility from the bizarre locals who are revealed to be amphibious mutants; the result of an ancient pact between the towns forefathers and a race of sea dwelling creatures known as the Deep Ones…

Gordon had planned to direct an adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth back in the 80s, but funding constantly evaded him. When his friend and collaborator Brian Yuzna founded the Spanish production company Fantastic Factory in the early 2000s, Gordon was finally able to realise his project. Dagon is a no nonsense, old-fashioned feeling horror flick that hits the …

The Dunwich Horror

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1970
Dir. Daniel Haller

When she becomes acquainted with softly spoken oddball Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell), little does perky student Nancy Wagner realise that he plans to use her in a ghastly ritual to summon forth the Old Ones; ancient entities slumbering in another dimension, waiting until the stars are right so they can return to earth. And mate.

Based on Lovecraft’s story of the same name (written in 1928, published in 1929), this was Daniel Haller’s second adaption of the author’s work, following on from Die Monster Die. Lovecraft’s story concerns Wilbur Whateley, the son of a half-witted albino mother and ‘unknown father’ and the strange events that surround his hometown of Dunwich. Wilbur is instructed in the ways of the occult by his fiendish grandfather and eventually attempts to acquire a copy of The Necronomicon to help him summon the Old Ones. Cattle, and people, go missing in the surrounding area and there’s talk of something hiding in the Whateley house, growing s…

Castle Freak

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1992
Dir. Stuart Gordon

Not so much loosely based on HP Lovecraft’s The Outsider (written in 1921, published in 1926) as it is deeply inspired by it, Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak tells of troubled couple John and Susan (Jeffrey Combs! Barbara Crampton!) and their blind daughter who travel to Italy to sell off an ancient castle John inherited from his aunt. Not long after they arrive, things start to go bump in the night and strange events occur, not least the daughter's claims that she is visited in the night by a stealthy prowler. When the mutilated bodies of the housekeeper and a local prostitute are discovered it becomes clear that the castle houses a secret inhabitant…

Stuart Gordon is no stranger to the macabre visions of Lovecraft having adapted Herbert West – Reanimator, From Beyond, Dreams in the Witch House and The Shadow Over Innsmouth for the screen. With Castle Freak he didn’t so much adapt The Outsider as take its central themes – and one specific moment – to flesh o…