Monday, September 13, 2010

Dollar Bin Horror Spotlight:The Stories of H.P. Lovecraft,Part I

By Eric Polk of

Today I'm going to began a multi-part series featuring the stories of undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of the modern-day horror tale, one H.P.Lovecraft. Lovecraft's guiding literary principle was what he termed "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror", the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. As early as the 1940s, Lovecraft had developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of humanity-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.

Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to  author Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft — as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century — has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."

So without further aideu, I shall review three of his short tales as published in The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories.

A simple seven-page story about a man who, after escaping from a prisoner ship, winds up inexplicably caught in a black ooze which he theorizes was once the ocean floor. After waiting three days for the floor to dry, he stumbles upon a mound at the edge of canyon. After making a descent, he discover a monolith containing odd hieroglyphics.Eventually, a creature, fishlike in appearance emerges and bow to worship at its altar, driving the man insane.

From this story begets movies like Creature from the Black Lagoon and Humanoids from the Deep. I attempted to place myself as I might have been had it been the early 1920's  when I read this. The results:I would have probably laughed, but would be checking my windows on occassion. 8/10

The Statement of Randolph Carter-
The statement is this. Randolph attempts to explain the disappearance of an occults who had certain books he did not wish Randolph to see. From these books, the occultist believes doors exists between this world and underworld. So, naturally, the occultist investigates. And , naturally, the results are what you'd expect. Not one of Lovecraft's better efforts. 4/10

The Late Arthur Jerymn and his Family-
Arthur Jermyn is described as having a very unusual appearance, and supposedly the worst in the line descended from Sir Wade Jermyn. Arthur becomes a scholar, eventually visiting the Belgian Congo on a research expedition, where he heard tales of a stone city of white apes and a stuffed white ape goddess body, which had since gone missing. Returning to a trading post, Arthur talks to a Belgian agent who offers to obtain and ship the goddess' body to him. Arthur accepts his offer and returns to England. The secret of him and his family is disturbing to say to the least. Very intense story. 8/10

Part II will be avaliable next week in which I review Celephasis, Nyaralthotep,and,The Picture in the House.


Mr. Gable said...

I hope you check out Herbert West: Re-Animator.

Eric Polk said...

Sure will.It's in the book.

Will Errickson said...

The problem with some of these Penguin collections is that they put a bunch of lesser-quality HPL stories in with a couple great ones. Still, all of his stuff is pretty much worth reading.

Chris Saunders said...

I'm seriously looking forward to the reviews on Celephaïs and Nyaralthotep, as well as the inevitable ones for The Rats in the Walls and The Shadow over Innsmouth, which have always been some of my favorites...

(Sorry if I'm providing spoilers... I grabbed my copy of the book and peeked ahead in the table of contents...)

Cheesemeister said...

Without Lovecraft, many of today's horror authors would not have been inspired to begin their own journey into the blasphemous realms of terror. It's a shame that he died before realizing just how influential his work was.

Darius Whiteplume said...

If you have not seen it, check out "The Call of Cthulhu" (2005) on NF streaming. It is made in the style of a silent film, and is pretty well done.