Last year, over the summer, I had finished listening to an audiobook I had downloaded on Medieval History. It was a series of University level lectures on not only the progression of history through what is oft coined as the “Medieval Period”, including elements of the Classical Era and early Rennaissance. Long story short, it was a long series to listen to. A good series, mind you, but astoundingly long. However, I was starting a work placement that involved very tedious work but not a great deal of mental focus, so I was in need of something new to listen to.
For years before that, I had been apprised of the broad strokes of Lovecraft literature, and had even looked into the Call of Cthulu game as well as watched an anime that less borrowed and more satirically mugged Lovecraft lore for the premise of its Slice o’ Life series (don’t get me wrong, though: it’s probably in the top 5 of my favourite anime of all time). So, with this abundance of spare time and a free credit on Audible, I downloaded the Necronomicon as written by HP Lovecraft. I plugged in my brain and was whisked away into realms of madness, paranoia and the impossible; and I loved it.
A few weeks back, again at another job that provided little mental stimulation, I had finished listening to two separate University level lectures on Philosophy as well as the History of Imperial China. One was a much longer listen than the other, but in dire need of something to change the tone and pace (you can probably predict where this is going), I tuned up the Necronomicon once again and was whisked away so on and so forth.
As someone who likes to think of themselves as an author of some meager talent, one of the things I spend the greatest amount of time marvelling at is how words are strung together in detailed, yet complexly vague suggestions of ideas. There’s a vast array of descriptive words that are used to convey the most unclear depictions of what is actually transpiring. It’s shockingly brilliant, though I’m certainly not the first to make this observation. What I might actually be the first to observe, as matter of fact, is how uncannily well a children’s animated movie gets to portraying, not so much the literal representation of Lovecraft’s work, rather the sensation of someone who has come into close contact with the Eldar Ones.
Indeed, I watched (or rather was subjected to) Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, a movie of such outstandingly atrocious quality and writing that I can’t help but feel that my own sanity has been completely shattered. Somewhere in the curious amalgamation of ham-handed plot progression, janky acting, poor direction choices and astoundingly bad animation choices, the movie tickled a queer sensation in me that actually, at the end of it all, made me almost respect the deranged nature of the production.
In its own odd way, the schism created within me by watching this movie has almost put into a sort of literal sense the sensation of living within one of Lovecraft’s works. Everything about the movie, as soon as it started up, screamed to me to ignore what my friends’ had put on their TV and to return to much more important work (beating Super Mario 64 for the umpteenth-million time). But, as it went on, my curiosity was aroused despite something within my very core begging me to look away. Then came the bizarre obsession with what was happening: how everything seemed only a little off and unfamiliar, but all the more compelling to analyse for those very reasons; up to the very conclusion of this nameless thing and my elation at how I knew that somewhere deep within me, something precious had died.
The whole thing is almost a farce of what makes a good movie, but it tries so earnestly and sincerely that it’s charming in its own way. The main character’s mother is actually his mother IRL, you’re introduced to Cthulu within minutes of the movie, visuals literally phase through other props and set pieces in the corners of the screen, and all the while the two biggest name actors on the cast list are relegated to support characters that have less than five minutes of screen time (they killed Christopher Plummer and Ron Perlman! How could they bring in these two amazing actors and absolutely murder their reputations?!).
But most curiously was that the writers were familiar enough with the works to understand what the references they were making, but not understand that the medium and setting simply does not translate over into a format that most parents would find acceptable for their children. What’s perhaps the biggest success of the Cthulu mythos is the way that no single story (or poem, in some cases) ends in a way that produces anything resembling favourable results for the poor bastards stuck in the story. The ends of the story are death, or irreplaceable insanity, for those who stray too close to the cosmic sleepers. It has been written so well and compellingly that Lovecraft’s ideals have influenced modern horror writers to such a degree that aspects of his work are in everything that has followed. Like Stephen King, once Lovecraft published his works, there would be no eluding his influence if you wished to write truly compelling horror.
Perhaps, in a way, this blog is also a by-product of the half deranged ramblings of someone who has come to know something that no mortal should understand. Not unlike in the stories, this movie is a truly blasphemous and malignant thing; a kind of creeping anxiety that lurks in my mind that will have long-reaching consequences (they made a sequel?! Whose funding this shit?), and I fear that I shall never know true peace while I know such prodigious and singular minds as those who unleashed this madness upon the world are still out there: plotting, scheming, sleeping…