Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “H.P.Lovecraft

Re-Animator Trading Cards

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Reanimator – The Graphic Novel

Re-Animator_Variant-Cover-ArtCreated in 1921 by Lovecraft as a semi-parody of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Reanimator story follows the creepy doctor Herbert West on his quest to conduct freaky experiments and create terrifying zombies. The character is likely best known from the epic 1985 film version, starring Jeffrey Combs in the title role.

Now the classic H.P. Lovecraft tale of the Reanimator is being re-imagined as a new comic series later this year. The comic will be written by Keith Davidsen with art by Randy Valiente, and published by Dynamite. The new series will see West headed to New Orleans to revamp his experiments, though it sounds like he’ll run afoul of the locals. Cue the epic voodoo battles. Dynamite has dabbled with the Reanimator franchise a few times in recent years via a one-shot issue, an Army of Darkness comic crossover.

Here’s the official synopsis for the run:

In Reanimator, Dr. Herbert West heads to New Orleans to continue his life’s work: the revival of the dead by purely chemical means. To accomplish this task, he recruits Susan Greene, a young and wide-eyed pharmacologist fascinated by his macabre experiments. Initially unfazed by West’s unorthodox practices (including how he funds his research – by selling zombie brain fluid as a narcotic), Susan may regret her scientific curiosity as sinister forces – those aligned with Elder Gods and Haitian Voodoo – begin to align against the Reanimator.


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Cthulhu Beer

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At The Mountains of Madness

Ath-the-Mountains-of-Madness_Guillermo-del-ToroAs dogged as ever, Guillermo del Toro is still desperate to being us an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness? Well, he’s willing to compromise with Universal Pictures, against his better judgement, stating that he’ll make the creature feature a PG-13 horror film.

The 3-D film originally had Tom Cruise in talks to star, but also had a ballooning budget of over $120M, which was a lot considering del Toro wanted it to be R-rated. The studio killed the movie, which resulted in us being gifted with Pacific Rim, among other great stuff like the forthcoming “The Strain.”

Del Toro now has a blooming relationship with Legendary Pictures, producers behind the project, and in an interview with the WSJ reveals that At the Mountains of Madness may be back in his cards.

I said to them, that’s the movie that I would really love to do one day, and it’s still expensive, it’s still … I think that now, with the way I’ve seen PG-13 become more and more flexible, I think I could do it PG-13 now, so I’m going to explore it with [Legendary], to be as horrifying as I can, but to not be quite as graphic. There’s basically one or two scenes in the book that people don’t remember that are pretty graphic. Namely, for example, the human autopsy that the aliens do, which is a very shocking moment. But I think I can find ways of doing it.

We’ll see. It’s certainly a possibility in the future. Legendary was very close to doing it at one point, so I know they love the screenplay. So, we’ll see. Hopefully it’ll happen. It’s certainly one of the movies I would love to do.

Guillermo-del-Toro_At-the-Mountains-of-MadnessMadness is the deliberately told and increasingly chilling recollection of an Antarctic expedition’s uncanny discoveries-and their encounter with untold menace in the ruins of a lost civilization-is a milestone of macabre literature.

In this day of studio control it’s always hard to trust the filmmakers to do what’s right for the movie, but if del Toro thinks he can pull it off with a PG-13, well, I’m he’s one of the few I’m happy to believe in.

Unfortunately, it looks like this could take a back seat to Pacific Rim 2, which he briefly talks about.

I don’t want to spoil it, but I think at the end of the second movie, people will find out that the two movies stand on their own. They’re very different from each other, although hopefully bringing the same joyful giant spectacle. But the tenor of the two movies will be quite different.

Read the full interview at the Wall Street Journal link HERE


Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

Having inspired such writers as Stephen King and Robert Bloch, it could be argued that the forefather of modern horror fiction was H.P. Lovecraft. The influence of his Cthulhu mythos can be seen in films, games, music and pop culture in general. But what led an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature’s most far-reaching mythologies? What attracts even the minds of 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods? LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is a chronicle of the life, work and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today’s luminaries of dark fantasy, including John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Caitlin Kiernan and Peter Straub.


H. P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) — known as H. P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction.

Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in his family home at 194 (later 454) Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the only child of Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman of jewelry and precious metals, and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft. In 1893, when Lovecraft was three, his father became acutely psychotic in a Chicago hotel room while on a business trip. The elder Lovecraft was taken back to Providence and placed in Butler Hospital, where he remained until his death in 1898.

Lovecraft was a prodigy, reciting poetry at the age of three and writing complete poems by six. His grandfather encouraged his reading, providing him with classics such as The Arabian Nights, and children’s versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey. His grandfather also stirred the boy’s interest in the weird by telling him his own original tales of Gothic horror. Beginning in his early life, Lovecraft is believed to have suffered from night terrors, a rare parasomnia disorder; he believed himself to be assaulted at night by horrific “night gaunts.” Much of his later work is thought to have been directly inspired by these terrors.

Lovecraft wrote some fiction as a youth but, from 1908 until 1913, his output was primarily poetry. During that time, he lived a hermit’s existence, having almost no contact with anyone but his mother. This changed when he wrote a letter to The Argosy, a pulp magazine, complaining about the insipidness of the love stories of one of the publication’s popular writers, Fred Jackson. The ensuing debate in the magazine’s letters column caught the eye of Edward F. Dass, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), who invited Lovecraft to join them in 1914. The UAPA reinvigorated Lovecraft and incited him to contribute many poems and essays.

In 1917, at the prodding of correspondents, he returned to fiction with more polished stories, such as The Tomb and  Dagon. The latter was his first professionally-published work, appearing in W. Paul Cook’s The Vagrant (November, 1919) and Weird Tales in 1923. Around that time, he began to build up a huge network of correspondents. His lengthy and frequent missives would make him one of the great letter writers of the century. Among his correspondents were Robert Bloch, and Robert E. Howard.

Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed “cosmicism”  or “cosmic horror”, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind. As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is best known for his Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.

For most of the 20th century, the definitive editions (specifically At the Mountains of Madness and Other NovelsDagon and Other Macabre TalesThe Dunwich Horror and Others, and The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions) of his prose fiction were published by Arkham House, a publisher originally started with the intent of publishing the work of Lovecraft, but which has since published a considerable amount of other literature as well. Penguin Classics has at present issued three volumes of Lovecraft’s works: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, and most recently The Dreams in the Witch Hose and Other Weird Stories. In 2005 the prestigious Library of America canonized Lovecraft with a volume of his stories edited by Peter Straub, and Random House’s Modern Library line have issued the “definitive edition” of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness (also including Supernatural Horror in Literature).

Despite his best writing efforts, however, he grew ever poorer. He was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt. He was also deeply affected by his former correspondent Robert E. Howard’s suicide. In 1936, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the intestine, and he also suffered from malnutrition. He lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, 1937, in Providence.

Although Lovecraft’s readership was limited during his lifetime, 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 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.” King has even made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King’s own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. His stories have also been adapted into plays, films and games.

For more extensive information on Lovecraft, visit the excellent H. P. Lovecraft Archive HERE.


Guillermo Del Toro – Interview at Comic Con

Excellent Comic Con interview with Guillermo Del Toro. Courtesy of DEADLINE.

Del Toro is back at Comic-Con after completing the robots vs monsters saga Pacific Rim financed by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. While it won’t be released until July 12, 2013, some in the industry have seen the early visuals and said they are stunning and they predict Del Toro will make a stirring return that was informed by his setbacks.

DEADLINE: You are finally here with a movie you directed. Describe your road here.

DEL TORO: Two years in New Zealand on The Hobbit, a year in L.A. and Canada developingMountains. Luckily, during the year of Mountains, I started on Pacific Rim and when people ask me why I have four or five things in development, here’s the answer. Paraphrasing John Lennon, a career is what happens when you’re making other plans. I once had a gap between Mimic and Devil’s Backbone of four years and haven’t had that long a gap until now. It is four years since Hellboy II. In 1998, my father was kidnapped for 72 days, I had to emigrate to Texas, and start over. I was recuperating from a bad experience on Mimic and luckily I found Pedro Almodovar, who basically supported me in doing Devil’s Backbone, which I consider my first movie in many ways. To me, this second four-year gap, finding Thomas Tull, John Jashni and Warners, was vital for me to continue. Pacific Rimhas given me an injection of life that I very much needed. I am reinvigorated, and at the most basic existential level, I needed this. I needed to have as good as an experience as this was. I came back from The Hobbit and met the Legendary guys and the experience was life changing. Thomas wanted me to read Travis Beacham’s pitch they had for Pacific Rim and I instantly saw the world.

DEADLINE: What did you see?

DEL TORO: This is a medium that requires large investment, and as a storyteller on this scale, there are only five guys who can write their own ticket; James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Chris Nolan and Michael Bay. The rest of us, we can only do certain things and they are mostly linear. If you are good at doing a comedy, the industry and the audience sees you only doing that comedy. This was a huge opportunity for me to step beyond where I was. And it was huge for me because I am a such a fan of robots and Kaiju, since I was a kid.

DEADLINE: You mean those cheesy, dubbed Japanese monsters…

DEL TORO: Speak for yourself. How about those fantastic Japanese monster movies? When I was a real young kid, 10 or maybe younger, I wanted to see a movie called The War of the Gargantuas. It was opening and I knew it was designed originally to be a companions piece to Frankenstein Conquers the World. I had to see it and I took the bus to the other side of town, because a movie like that doesn’t open in the A or B circuit, it opened in the Z theaters. It was and old, rundown 2000 seat movie palace, and as I was sitting there enjoying the movie, somebody from the balcony throws a big empty glass…full of pee. It lands on my head. This is how much I love Kaiju; I finished the movie. And then I came out, with a There’s Something About Mary kind of hairdo, and I rode the bus back and nobody sat next to me. Japanese properties were probably cheap to acquire, so the theaters in Mexico were inundated with these films. I saw them all. And it instantly came back to me with Pacific Rim. I pitched scenes to Thomas and Jon, and they said, you have to direct it. I said I can’t, I have Mountains. I came on as producer and in a month, we had done a teaser trailer we animated, we had had silhouettes for 40 robots and some of the monsters and we were doing clay models. I did the Bible for the movie, and found myself feeling, damn, what lucky director is going to play in this world with all these toys?Mountains looked like it was going to happen. Until what I call that Black Friday, and then it wasn’t. I called Thomas and said, I’ll come on board Monday, if you are willing to really ready to take the step into pre-production. And it happened so fast. I’ve never worked as hard on a movie, to hit the budget number. We came in under budget, and under schedule. Hellboy took 135 days, the sequel 132 days. We did this in 103 days.

DEADLINE: You got close on The Hobbit, closer on Mountains. From an outside perspective, it feels like you were at the altar twice, and each time the girl didn’t show up. How’d you feel?

DEL TORO: I don’t know if I would characterize it quite that way. I am a writer of at least the first Hobbit film. The one that really hurt most was Mountains, because it was really abrupt. It was devastating. We were scouting, on the border of Alaska, in the glaciers in a helicopter. And I get the call, you gotta come back for a meeting on Friday. I said, eh…why do we need to meet?

DEADLINE: After I wrote about the film being halted because the studio would not make a $150 million film and give you the right for it to be an R rated movie, numerous studio execs said they would have done the same thing, even though they wanted to see the movie. It’s hard to make your money back on a big budget R film. Do you regret not being more flexible?

DEL TORO: No. But you’re guilty of a lot of my problems, not on Mountains, but you were the one whose article said I was busy till 2015, when in my mind, I’m unemployed and go movie to movie.

DEADLINE: Well, that was an editor at my former workplace, Daily Variety, trying to be clever. But what you say is true. But should you have caved on the rating and been willing to do Mountains at PG-13?

DEL TORO: I don’t regret it. Look at Prometheus. There’s an R rated horror movie that doesn’t have big name stars. We had Tom Cruise, and Jim Cameron producing. But I completely understand why they did it and I can’t argue, I can’t say they were wrong and I was right to take that position. I could never have their job because I would approve Mountains and many others, but I understand. I’ve been here 20 years and I don’t go for the altar reference because I never go into these things feeling it’s unthinkable they might not happen. But it still hurt like a motherfucker. You’ve got hundreds of drawings, dozens of paintings, storyboarded sequences, animatics, ILM did a test that was phenomenal and proved to me that everything we wanted to do was actually possible. It hurts always for the director because there is a movie you see in your head, and you want people to see it. [Del Toro’s manager Gary Ungar stops by our table to give him a carefully bubble wrapped package. He unfolds it, and it is a leather-bound brown journal, the pages filled with elaborate sketches of his Hellboy character. The pen and ink drawings look like paintings, and the handwritten notes beautifully scrawled in the filmmaker’s hand are so perfectly crafted that the book looks like a movie prop out of Indiana Jones or The Da Vinci Code].

DEADLINE: That is magnificent. Are you a closet calligrapher?

DEL TORO: This was on loan to the Seattle Science Fiction Museum. It’s just my notebook on Hellboy and some different stuff. These are all my drawings, and I just got it back. I’m an obsessive compulsive, what can I say.

DEADLINE: Will you still make At The Mountains of Madness, especially if Pacific Rim puts you near the category of those five directors you mentioned who can write their own tickets on big buck films?

DEL TORO: I want to see Prometheusfirst [there are plot similarities]. To me,Pacific Rim is a catalyst for so many things. You learn your craft little by little, and you do it publicly. You make mistakes in front of an audience. Make a wrong casting or editorial decision, and it’s all out in the open, like crashing a car in slow motion, publicly. Everybody can see your head bounce, your spine snap, and they comment on every single fracture. You’re giving interviews, or reading opinions. “Look at the way his wrist snapped! He’s never going to walk again the way his spine just broke!” You learn your craft that way and it’s rare that you can calculate or control it. You get lucky sometimes. I desire to direct big crazy movies and small crazy movies, and on Pan’s Labyrinth I was able to do that with some degree of control. Pacific Rim is the first time I have been able to articulate something that is purely entertaining, big and bold in this large format. I was incredibly aware of every choice, both creatively and fiscally. I stayed under budget and wanted that to be part of the experience. To be as bold and big as possible, but within the parameters I had agreed to. The narrative comes first, but I was a producer on this as well.

DEADLINE: At Disney’s Comic-Con panel, early The Lone Ranger footage was stylish and impressive, but the first connotation of that film is budget struggles. Unless you’re making a sequel, it seems very hard to create new tent poles. How much has pressure increased when you are creating something completely new?

DEL TORO: When you are producer and director, you are basically making a vow to be able to whistle and keep the tune. I’m aware of how much each extra costs, that I have to give up two cars to get four extras for five days. I have to pre-plan so if I say a sequence will take three days, it takes three days. I had the partnership of guys who believed in creating something new. They were not asking for a re-launch or a sequel. Finding a partner like this who shares not only in the financials but fully in the creative dream is a blessing that doesn’t happen often. But as to your question, I don’t believe any experience is bad and I’m not trying to sound wide-eyed or naïve. I don’t know if I could have done Pacific Rimwithout having prepped The Hobbit and especially Mountains because we got so close. It was a warm up for prepping movies that size, fiscally and technically. My contact with ILM started on Mountains, all the creative heads that came intoPacific Rim were guys who wanted to do Mountains. They knew what I wanted to try, that it was a new way of trying effects. The core of my creative team of designers moved from Mountains on a Friday to Pacific Rim on Monday. That tough experience allowed me to do this. To me, it’s harder to recuperate from success than failure. You can get a little lost in analyzing your success too much. Our culture prepares you on how to overcome failure. Look down, soldier on, figure it out. No one tells you how to avoid the trappings of success. That you figure out by brutally going through experiences. You learn much more about who you are going through difficulty.

DEADLINE: What look were you after with Pacific Rim?

DEL TORO: I wanted to do a big adventure movie with saturated colors, operatic battle set pieces and saturated colors and richly textured. As a kid I loved the Korda adventure films and I used them for inspiration. I wanted to evoke the feeling I had as a kid when I dreamed of being a cowboy or a pirate or an astronaut. I didn’t want to make a war movie, and visually avoided all the trappings of that like the long lens, super polished blue steely images that looked like a recruitment video, and the winner aesthetics that immediately tell you that a select group saves the world. I wanted it to be all of us who saved the world. So when I wanted Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, and Ron Perlman, they got it. Sometimes you pitch that and watch the studio head glaze over and say, yeah, but we need these five names to make this work.

DEADLINE: Will you be involved in Legendary’s Godzilla remake?

DEL TORO: No, we made it a point so far not to discuss that. Our conversations are limited to this. We were planning a sequence on Pacific Rim and when I described it to Thomas Tull, there was a landmark involved and he said, that one is taken in Godzilla. You have to guarantee me you won’t stomp, burn or destroy X, because Godzilla’s already doing that.

DEADLINE: Will it be odd having The Hobbit on the same Comic-Con bill as Pacific Rim?

DEL TORO: No. I haven’t seen the footage, but The Hobbit decision took a long time to make. And when you make a decision like that, you don’t look back, at least I don’t. I really think the movie’s in the right hands. I want to see it and wish it the best of luck. For me, the one that hurt was Mountains because it was not one where I had time to absorb or think about. That year was a hard year. But there is a contraction of the industry and Mountains three years before would happened. With DVD and Blu-ray, they would have taken the bigger risk.

DEADLINE: Fans will look at Mountains the same way we look at Halo, and wonder what might have been had Neill Blomkamp done that as his debut film instead of District 9.

DEL TORO: You mention Halo. We developed that movie, with D.B. Weiss, one of the creators of Game of Thrones. We made a screenplay and nobody talks about it but it was amazing. I went to WETA, met with them to talk about designs, had a big meeting. And then I went and made Hellboy.

DEADLINE: So leaving was your choice?

DEL TORO: That one was my choice.

DEADLINE: It really feels like this is a game of choices and it’s understandable why it’s so hard to choreograph success, especially now, when studios don’t really know what to make except sequels.

DEL TORO: It has always been that way though, no? When you read the real tales of movie making, it has always been pretty turbulent. Always, a few guys can write their own ticket, whether it was Capra and Sturges, Howard Hawks. The names change, but it’s usually limited to the same number of guys. I was just saying to a studio executive the other day that in the best of circumstances, when you hire a director, you are hiring either a guy who has the touch with actors, is a world creator visually, and maybe a guy who brings a certain tone that make his films recognizable. Everything else is a crap shoot. And all the preconceptions that used to guide the movie business through the years, like reliance on stars, are basically gone.

DEADLINE: How are you with that?

DEL TORO: I think that’s thrilling. At the end of the day, if you have a worthy story to tell, you’re going to tell it. If you can only tell a story with a certain range of budget, then you should worry. It softens your tissue somehow. But if you can write a book, make a small or big budget film or tell your story in a graphic novel, then it is a very exciting time.

DEADLINE: You mentioned Michael Bay as one of the five guys. After John Carter and Battleship, I heard more than a few people say they had new found respect for Bay and the skill it takes to make these big popcorn pictures.

DEL TORO: A lot of people think erroneously that it gets easier with more money. It doesn’t, because you are steering a much bigger ship. Imagine you are the rudder of a small fishing boat. If you become the rudder of a trans-Atlantic oil tanker, it doesn’t get easier on the rudder, it’s more taxing. There’s a feeling that CGI writes itself and happens while the director is riding with a starlet on the PCH in a convertible, on the phone saying, how is the CGI going? It’s a specific logistical, almost military operation you have to be able to run.

DEADLINE: How helpful is it to be here at Comic-Con with a movie that’s not coming out until next summer?

DEL TORO: To me, Comic-Con has always been invaluable, it doesn’t matter what project, I want to be here. Spiritually, it’s a beautiful place for me, I truly love Comic-Con. I feel at home. Whether it’s Pacific Rim or Pan’s Labyrinth, I come here.

DEADLINE: It’s easy to be condescending and cynical, but the passion of this crowd is charming when you get to observe it up close.

DEL TORO: It’s more than that to me. It’s pretty easy to be reactionary, to be like a parent in the 50s seeing their kids with rock and roll. What are you doing in your room all day? You are doing nothing! Same with video games. But the craftsmanship that allows for that narrative interface with video games, it’s huge and transformative. It has transformed the storytelling of the visual medium. Cultural swings are defined by clashes. Counterculture clashed with narrative in the 70s and you got intense, thoughtful, hardcore movie making, and you have pop culture colliding with narrative and these are waves you ride.

DEADLINE: It’s hard to figure out this current wave.

DEL TORO: There’s a very interesting confluence where you have this very intense awareness of pop culture, to a point where essentially nothing is fringe that cannot be taken by a corporation and commercialized by it. That’s the bad aspect of it. At the same time, you are finding a lot of the young generation galvanized socially in a collective way, whether it’s hacking or taking on Wall Street. It’s a curious time. I, myself at 47, am more interesting in find what’s alive, what is the pulse, than mourning any loss.