Lovecraftian terrors

Late last year, I joined a bunch of other Lovecraftian fan at NYC’s annual Lovecraft Festival, Arkham Asylum. A handful of actors narrated his stories with extreme levels of panic and creepiness, inside a darkened church. This is undoubtedly the best way to immerse oneself in his terrible tales. Everything feels so much more real and rich when trained voice actors are telling them to you.

Who is H.P.Lovecraft? He was a horror writer from the early 20th century who lived in Rhode Island and wrote fantastical horror stories based around New England. He died as just another penniless artist, but appreciation for his work has grown ever since. It was (and still is) quite unique. Stephen King cites Lovecraft as his earliest influence, and in turn Lovecraft cites Poe (another of my favourites). Most people probably don’t know Lovecraft by name, but references to his work have seeped into our culture everywhere. Metallica made a couple of songs about his Cthulhu character. The Evil Dead movies feature his Necronomicon book. The Cabin in the Woods (movie) offers a surprise appearance of his Elder Gods. Even last year’s movie, The Shape of Water, has ties to his more fishy yarns.

We call him a horror writer, but it’s probably fair to say that he reinvented the whole genre, moving away from axe murderers and wolfmen to tales that make us focus on the worst kind of fear – that of the unknown. He created a whole mythos about huge, ancient, tentacled gods who are trying to take over earth and whose mere gaze would turn most humans insane. It’s the kind of mythos that makes us question our place in the universe and to doubt what lies beneath the surface of everything that we think we know. It’s pretty catchy. His stories weave a sense of growing dread before climaxing at a final reveal of something otherworldly. There’s been somewhat of a rebirth in Lovecraftian interest among the board gaming community, with popular titles like Arkham Horror, which is where I first became aware of him.

This festival was put on by the same radio theatre group that performed the Edgar Allan Poe festival. Their skills and creative talents are perfect for re-enacting the dark fables of these gargantuan scribes. For a nice intro to Lovecraft, and my favourite story of his, try The Nameless City. “And with strange aeons, even death may die.”


– Collected Stories –

– Random images –

– Metallica song –

– The Cabin in the Woods –

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