Bradbury Addendum

     In the last issue of my ‘aster I should have tidied up the Ray Bradbury article with some conclusive statements. Here goes. His biographer, Sam Weller, had suggested that the Lovecraft influence was gone by around the early forties. However, in the latter half of the forties there was a flurry of references to Lovecraft and his writing in several Bradbury short stories. In addition, one story, “Jack-in-the-Box,” bears some provocative similarities with “The Outsider.” The reasons for this can be guessed at. Bradbury was in obvious correspondence with August Derleth, who was publishing Dark Carnival. Perhaps under Derleth’s sway Bradbury renewed his enthusiasm for HPL, whose death had prompted Derleth to found Arkham House. Or perhaps Bradbury was trying to please Derleth. At any rate from around 1947, when “Jack-in-the-Box” appeared in Dark Carnival, to1950, when Lovecraft was last mentioned in the short story “The Exiles,” Bradbury was acknowledging HPL. The years of Lovecraft interest or influence need not have filled the span, since they don’t necessarily reflect when the works were written, but when they were published.     

     In The Bradbury Chronicles, Weller writes that Bradbury “does not read other science fiction and fantasy writers,” then quotes him “‘I don’t want to inadvertently steal from them’” (p. 8). His recognition of this danger suggests he may have done this with Lovecraft in the case of “Jack-in-the-Box.”


Movie Reviews                                                             

     Several months after buying a DVD player, I played my second pre-recorded DVD movie on it (the first was Les Vampires). It was the rented Dagon (2001), a favorite of the Burlesons. It included extras, such as a voiceover of director Stuart Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli discussing Lovecraft and other things as the movie played. I learned that the late Spanish actor who portrayed the drunk Ezequiel–Zadok Allen in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”–was considered in the league of Laurence Olivier and was a Lovecraft fan who may have been lured to the role because of the association; he and the director spent several hours discussing HPL.

     Another actor, it was also revealed, that is a Lovecraft fan is the veteran genre star, Christopher Lee, whose roles have included Dracula and Sauron, substantial parts in Sherlock Holmes and James Bond movies, Star Wars, plus many horror and other genre works, as well as big-budget films. He was in Horror Hotel, which I’ve heard has a Lovecraft amibiance, and The Crimson Cult, who some say (but not I) is based on “The Dreams in the Witch House.” (See for a complete list of his movies and shows, which number over 250!.) He owns two Lovecraft letters, which he has promised to a university. 

     I watched the movie three times. The first straight, and the second and third with commentary tracks, the second just noted, and the third being by Stuart Gordon and main actor Ezra Godden, a Brit who had nothing to say about HPL. However, it is the second that I’ll address. Some of the commentary about Lovecraft is inaccurate–that he feared fish and left a party when fish was served. Still, Gordon and Paoli have an appreciation for the writing and make some generalizations that show their knowledge. They make an observation that I hadn’t thought of; that the Gilman House is a pun on the nature of the natives; yet they ignore that “Gilman” is also the name of the protagonist in “The Dreams in the Witch House,” so I don’t know what amount of credence to put there.1 However, I think they overlooked a pun, especially considering that Dagon is a European film. It could have concluded, not with the words “The End” (which it doesn’t, anyway), but with “Fin,” which is “end” in Spanish and French.

     As The Haunted Palace should have been called The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, so Dagon should have been called The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Paoli maintained that some of the story, in its early part, was lifted out of “Dagon”–the shipwreck (yacht against the reef), going ashore on an island (in this case a town along the coast), and a temple with hieroglyphs (here, an underwater structure with carvings, that I didn’t recognize on the first viewing). This is rationalization. Based on such evidence, the story could with equal logic have been called Moby Dick, which has a shipwreck, devil worshipers, a monster with tentacles, etc. 

     Dagon is actually a dramatization of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” I’d call it good, and definitely better than most horror movies. Other than the opening scene between the hero Paul Marsh and his sweetie Bárbara, there is no normality; the rest of the movie is at the service of the horror world portrayed.

     I agree with the director that the narrative comes closest to Lovecraft’s story when the protagonist is besieged in his hotel room and tries to bolt the door by attaching a lock. Moreover, in at least some of the movie the hero seems like a victim or toy of dark forces, such as Lovecraft’s Innsmouth narrator. And much of the story, as in “Innsmouth,” is a pursuit.

     However, there are numerous and obvious divergences. Whereas the Lovecraft story has the Innsmouthians the result of breeding between humans and the Deep Ones, apparently the only one who can beget in Dagon is the god himself (him is a key word), hence the sacrifice of women (and shades of Cthulhu Sex). The character of Dagon is a problem. Apparently he is not an alien but really a god who can appear anywhere in the oceanic world. His appearance is heralded by ink in the water, and when he makes a brief, late appearance he consists chiefly of a blur of tentacles. Whether he is intelligent is never really addressed; he is principally a boogie creature.

     A characteristic of the half-humans is nicely portrayed on screen–that they have an unblinking look. This adds to the sexiness of one of the half-humans, Uxía Cambarro (Macarena Gómez) who is in love with Paul. Seen underwater in the early and last part of the film, she has a remarkably eerie beauty. While Paul’s early discovery that the beings don’t blink is presented through him self-consciously and slowly winking one eye, then the other, I didn’t understand this. It took the commentary to clue me in.

     In the Lovecraft story the Innsmouthians gradually turn into a kind of frog, and as a result hop, or something along those lines. Gordon felt this would be inappropriate, and here I agree. (I’m reminded that before Superman flew he locomoted by kangaroo hops, which thankfully was replaced on-screen.) In Dagon they go the tentacular route, though there is plenty of inconsistency. Uxía Cambarro has tentacles for legs, but others seem to lack legs, or may have a Cthulhuoid head. Gills are on the neck of one inhabitant, but Paul has them along his abdomen. I’d have liked consistency. 

     Also, jarringly, there is a mis-calculated fight scene where Bárbara kungs fu, which seems incongruous with her character as represented, as well as rocking the Lovecraftian model.

     The ending is sober. In the film’s most excruciating scene the bound Zadok Allen character prays as his head is skinned from the neck up. Then Bárbara is sacrificed, naked, to Dagon, first being scarred with a knife by the half-human woman. In a scene rich with suspense, as she is held on a derrick over a pit whose bottom is the sea, her blood drips silently down into the water as bait for Dagon. However, when she is wheeled (reeled?) back in and covered with Dagon’s ink (semen?), she looks a bit silly. (It is curious how nudity–the nude scene with Bárbara–and horror–the appearance of Dagon–share similarities. Suggestiveness is deliberate, and over-exposure is avoided.. Showing the sex organs is typically taboo, so camera shots are set up to omit or moderate them, while in horror the camera shouldn’t show too much of the monster in order not to take away its power to scare, or because the appearance may be too awful to bear.)

     Though sparingly used, the music for voices adds to the strangeness of the atmosphere, and as the story ends it really heightens the sense of the alien as both Paul and Uxía Cambarro swim into the entrance of the underwater world. A shortened version of the story’s concluding sentence is used at the fadeout.

     While the short story “Dagon” is at best a marginal inspiration for the movie, a stronger case can be made for a scene lifted from another short story, “Arthur Jermyn.” At the end of Dagon, in a suicide attempt Paul pours a flammable liquid over himself and lights it, while “Arthur Jermyn soaked himself in oil and set fire to his clothing one night.” 

     The movie also shares similarities with the aforementioned The Haunted Palace. This had mutants in it shambling around instead of the amphi-people, and at the ending a woman is bound so that an alien thing can mate with her, a scene (scripted by Charles Beaumont) less true to the world of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward than to “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”/Dagon.



     Though its terror and sense of dread dissipates half-way through, The Descent (2006) is a movie that reminded me of another Lovecraft short story. In it some women friends go a-caving. I’ve crawled through cave passages and found it frightening, for there is complete darkness and a huge sense of claustrophobia. Therefore, I reacted personally as the women went deeper into the cave, one getting stuck. Then there is evidence that they are not alone, and one glimpses a white thing with the outline of a human as it drinks. At this point the movie shifts gears as ruthless attacks ensue, since the things are mindlessly voracious, and the movie becomes an arcade game, with attack and fight back composing the rest of the story, as the body count rises, while drama and suspense disappear.

     The Lovecraft short that this most closely compares with is “The Beast in the Cave,” though the story has only one devolved human, whereas the beings of The Descent are like the Martenses of “The Lurking Fear,” since in both instances there appear to be generations of souls who have lived underground and adapted to it. As a result of the movie I re-read the story written by a teenage Lovecraft. However, it may be a coincidence that the Lovecraft story is in Mammoth Cave, in Appalachia, the setting for The Descent.

     Two non-movie things struck me about “The Beast in the Cave.” The first is that the narrator makes a point of not panicking upon finding himself lost in the cave system, but keeping an “unimpassioned demeanour.” This is in direct contrast to creating fear by portraying the frenzy of the principal character in a horror story.

     Then there is the line, “Perhaps, I considered, the Almighty had chosen for me a swifter and more merciful death than that of hunger.” Even at the age of 14, when he wrote the work, Lovecraft was, I believe, a materialist and atheist. His creation of a character with different beliefs than he would be less pronounced when he returned to fiction in later years. That is, his narrators, one may gather, were scientists, skeptics, and non-believers, though background characters–as in “The Dreams in the Witch House” and “The Haunter of the Dark”–were persons of faith. However, the religious aspect of Lovecraft’s work should be further investigated, as it is in a thesis on Christianity I’ve mentioned in The Criticaster 35.


And So to Read: 132 Hallowe’en

     Fred: I had never before heard the word “apahacking.” I presume that means writing for an apa. *** I’d be interested in discovering the list of book titles that you discovered when visiting your Fordham friend.

     Ben: Re your “Other Imprints of August Derleth” article: You state April Derleth continued Arkham House after AD’s death. In the 1980's I attended a World Fantasy Con where Arkham House received an award and the person who was there to take it was Walden Derleth, the son; so I presumed that he was equally important in continuing Arkham House. *** You don’t know the origin of the “Moran” in the publisher name Mycroft and Moran, which shows you’re not a dedicated Sherlockian. Colonel Moran was described by Holmes as “the second most dangerous man in London.” There’s a biography of him in Wikipedia. *** The Brett Rutherford poem “Pluto Demoted” is even more relevant, now that Pluto has lost its status as a planet.

     Ken: Here is another of many examples where you make available source material–copies of original documents–that researchers can use as ammunition for their writing.  

     Willum: Thanks for the rundown on the 2005 H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, its program, and for sharing your enthusiasm. Unlike you I’ve never attended. That it is held in Portland, home of Lovecraft despiser Ursula K. Le Guin, is ironic. *** Had you got a number of Lovecraftians asking that there be a Lovecraft panel at Norwescon, then the program director–who enables that sort of thing–might have had to kowtow. It’s politics. *** A few words about the program, which is in the form of a newspaper. The most interesting news is the reprint of the letter to August Derleth from that underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger wishing to make “The Dreams in the Witch House,” using Bela Lugosi, Brother Theodore, and “Asta”; I wonder if the request had some tongue-in-cheek. *** Reading about Marebito reminded me of the very creepy episode “Jenifer” (directed by Dario Argento) that was part of Masters of Horror; despite plot similarities, however, the latter had not a shred of HPL. *** And I had completely forgotten that Bleeders was based on “The Lurking Fear.” The movie was alternately titled The Descendant, also the name of a Lovecraft short-short. And I learn that there’s a Ray Bradbury Award; though I am unsure who issues it–the Mystery Writers of America (stated in the article) or the Science Fiction Writers of America (mentioned on several websites) or ?

     Kennett: Both the Scarecrow Festival and Pumpkin Festival sound of great interest, and I regret that I may never get to see either. *** Your reprint of an ad for Shadow of Death, an HPL collection, mentions as one story “The Tomb That Came to Sarnath,” which sounds inspired. *** I mentioned in an earlier issue that James Sallis (whose article on HPL you reprinted) knows his Lovecraft, and I was impressed enough to read a book he wrote about some of the top noir writers (Difficult Lives). *** There’s a quote from Andrew Migliore that unlike HPL, Edgar Poe’s works get “serious treatments and period pieces.” This overlooks that so many Poe adaptations are schlock, sensationalistic, or low budget. *** The author of “Church of Monsters” goes along well with the facts until she mistakes Machen, et al. as fellow UAPA-ers. 
     John G.: You reveal that you don’t like King’s introduction to the Michel Houellebecq essay because he got his facts wrong. I, on the other hand, found the intro very readable and liked it because of his appreciation for HPL. Your complaint that in the Houellebecq text the quotes attributed to HPL lack source citations is valid; however it must be a task to find the English-language original when working from a French translation, and I can’t blame the translator for not doing it, though at worst it makes the quotes suspect. Moreover, I’ve read that Houellebecq may have played fast and loose with the quotes he attributes to HPL. I’m less sympathetic with your antipathy about the inclusion of familiar Lovecraft stories in the book by Houellebecq. Call it a marketing ploy. *** I think you’re mistaken that Lovecraft acknowledged The Thing in the Woods as an influence on “The Dunwich Horror.” Also, according to Stefan Dziemianowicz the author of the book, “Harper Willaims,” was a woman whose great claim to literary fame was writing the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit!

     Gavin: Beyond the Wall of Sleep sounds like a typical yahoo horror movie designed for a yahoo audience. Any touch of HPL must be purely accidental. When all the characters in a movie are repellant, you may start rooting for the monster in its murderous pursuits. Also, I would recommend that your Kornflake Killer Konfidential page be stapled so that it appears as the cover rather than at the end, especially since in it you are introducing the review by your friend.

     Scott: To keep your pages sturdily bound you need a bigger stapler or print on both sides of a sheet (getting less text from your zine is not an option).*** Although I also read Beyond Belief (I have the book somewhere, and can vaguely recall the cover) when I was in high school, I didn’t think a lot of “Phoenix.” Your essay on Smith made me want to re-read or read the stories you discuss. Your noting that Smith was not unappreciative of science, despite what he calls his “innate romanticism” might be contrasted with Keats lament that “all charms fly/ At the mere touch of cold philosophy.” *** Concerning your other reviews, you call Library of America’s Tales the “definitive text”–but see my comments in the section titled “A Dissenting Opinion on the Library of America.” I’m less appreciative of “The Silver Key” than you, having recently re-read it; I feel the first of it is philosophical musings disguised as fiction. As for you coming down on the side of Lovecraft and realism (in the Houellebecq review), this depends on how you define realism, and if fantasy can accommodate it. *** I’ve not seen Out of Mind, but your mention of the representation of HPL’s voice–the one, you say, that Lovecraftians always assumed–makes me ask if the actor imitates a Rhode Island accent. *** While I’m pleased that Hippocampus Press has brought out the Shiel volume, I see no reason to buy it since I have Arkham House Xelucha, which appears to have the same stories; otherwise, I would eftsoon.

     John H.: In a reply you state, in part, that “nothing crept in [HPL’s writing that] he didn’t intend.” I think that you need to amplify on this, for in my opinion, any artist puts in unconscious meanings that are not deliberately intended. It is no discredit to Lovecraft or any artist that this is a truism, something inevitable that contributes to greatness. *** As for you agreeing that popularity should not dictate taste, and thereby determine what is literature (i.e., writing that is substantive)–a critic worth his/her salt should look at what remains popular through generations and accept its endurance. As a case in point, Edgar Rice Burroughs remains popular, though not a critical success; and while I’m indifferent to his writing, I think it is very near, or maybe is, canonical. And why not? Pamela has been around for several centuries, and what a awkward classic that is. *** I agree that answering letters does contribute to brainstorming, or spontaneously taking thoughts to places they otherwise wouldn’t go. I discover my own thinking in this way. *** You complain of Stephen King’s mis-information in his introduction to the Houellebecq volume; King is valuable for his insights and opinions and should be forgiven his factual errors.

     S.T.: You have elasticized the word “supernatural” (as in your edited American Supernatural Fiction) to include Bradbury’s “The Fog Horn.”


Next you see/ Mailing 133 (February 2006) 

     Fred: Re your reading Shadows Over Baker Street: The parallel betwixt the worlds of Lovecraft and Doyle has been acknowledged as far back as Edmund’s Wilson’s article, where he scorns both at the close. I feel that particularly The Hound of the Baskervilles was reflected by Lovecraft’s oeuvre, as I have argued in my article (presented in ‘ticaster 38) on its appropriation in parts of “The Rats in the Walls.”

     Ben: You mention the word “spinster” being used in 1805. In Dickens Bleak House (1853) the word denominates an unmarried woman, namely the character Caddy Jellyby, who appears to be in her twenties. *** Unlike you, who knew where every book you owned was located, I know I don’t, if I ever did. With the number of books accumulated through the years, it takes me many minutes at times to locate a title, and sometimes I fail. *** You ask, who is China Miéville? In jest? He has written Lovecraftian fiction, and his stories and novels have received various award nominations, some of which he has won. *** You note anti-Semitism in a Fitz James O’Brien story. Ironic, in that he was Irish and there was a high tide of anti-Hibernicism at this period in the U.S. *** Burt Libe’s books on time are offered through

     Ken: You observe that a mathematician has written a Lovecraft-like passage where he speculates that Sumer might have got its knowledge from an older civilization destroyed by glaciers. There is a truism to keep in mind, that out of their speciality scientists are no more knowledgeable about a topic than anyone else. *** You acknowledge that people who knew Lovecraft are dying. We’re also losing a first generation of readers, those who read Lovecraft writings when they premiered.

     Henrik: You mentioned you might review Stephen King’s From a Buick Eight and identify its Lovecraft connections. I hope you do. *** Is the photograph of the bow-tied man on your website Thomas Winther? I’ve been told that the Danes are big readers, which makes it a shame that Lovecraft has been so poorly represented in Danish translations, even in the 1990's. *** You reprinted the Davis essay. There are errors of judgement and of fact. He finds “1930s pulp fiction ... nearly unreadable today,” which overlooks that pulp’s appeal was in its readability, and this slights the work of Howard, Smith, Raymond Chandler, etc. *** No “C.W. Thompson” discovered Pluto–it was Clyde W. Tombaugh. Also, John W. Campbell did not coin the term “hyperspace” (see the wikipedia article). *** I’d like to see evidence that there was a review of the Necronomicon submitted to “the Massachusetts Branford Review in 1934.” An Internet citation bears too little weight. For example, I have found that while the Branford Review began in 1932, it is in Connecticut, not Massachusetts; so I wouldn’t trust any of the claim. *** At any rate, I liked this analogy: “Lovecraft’s Necronomicon is the occult equivalent of Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of the ‘War of the Worlds’” (p. 28).

     Don & Mollie: In your “Cryptogram” why don’t you repeat the previous cryptogram along with the answer?; that way, one sees both the problem and the solution. *** Re your review about the sins of religion, I am not aware that people actually are stoned to death in Northern Ireland, et al., though there are enough methods of murder practiced. Also, extremists (whether for religion or something else) who believe means justify ends are plainly scary, and should be stopped. However, I am pessimistic that all of humankind will outgrow barbarism, for it only takes a few to continue viciousness.

     A. Langley: You note that the reason you pulled through your sepsis ordeal was due to your health--that you had never smoked, drank but wine, had pets, was married, etc. That reminds me of a Mark Twain anecdote. Twain noted that he along with others fell sick, and so for a time he gave up smoking and drinking. As a result he was cured. However, his companions didn’t have these vices to begin with, so they had nothing to give up, and were sick much longer. 

     John G: The carving or sculpture of Cthulhu on your cover looks India Indian, perhaps related to the elephant god of good fortune, Ganesha. *** I agree with your analysis that (to paraphrase) HPL did not exhaust his concepts, but opened up new veins that readers could discover for themselves. *** Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth is a title derived from a 1940s Lovecraft collection (The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth), which was strictly Lovecraft stories.

     Scott: In discussing Benson and Wakefield you refer to them publishing in a certain magazine, but you don’t name it. Since I am especially fond of Wakefield–read “Lucky’s Grove” for a great story–I think he may well be in the first rank, with M. R. James, though perhaps not producing as high a proportion of fine stories. Yet they possess a grimness and ghastliness not found in James or many other ghost story writers. James has a humor element in his stories, both through his overt recognition of himself as a narrator and through his characters–think of the working-class busmen bickering in “Casting the Runes”–that remind me of the comedy that leavens Alfred Hitchcock films. Maybe it is very British.

     David: For not the first time I’ve thought about the peculiarity of reading just the footnotes without having the stories that accompany them, like attempting to judge parents through their orphans.

     S.T.: Voltaire is at least in one sense still a dicey subject–his anti-Semiticism. You plan on translating these sentiments? It is notable that your interests include both he and Mencken, quintessential disturbers of the peace. *** In your “witchcraft and unbelief” article you state that during the early medieval period people believed witches could cast spells, etc. as a result of folklore and paganism. This begs the question of how the beliefs originated. I guess the real source is the fears and hopes of the human imagination. Also, you explain that the majority of witches were women because the gender was considered “morally and intellectually weaker than men.” This cause-and-effect reasoning is highly suspect–for example, why weren’t all women considered witches?–and suggests that a man who was demonstrably morally and intellectually weaker than other men would likely be tarred as a witch. Moreover, since this view of women is still held by some, some of the some must retain this witch prejudice. I hope you had the article vetted by an expert in this area. *** I wish you had dug deeper and stressed the “unbelief” part of both the Voltaire and witchcraft entries, rather than giving generic ones, especially for the latter.


“Imagination Runs Wild”

     Early articles that mention HPL interest me. Here is my summary and annotation of one I ran across in The New Republic (17 Jan 1949, p. 15-18), “Imagination Runs Wild” by Richard B. Gehman, previously an editor of the official weekly for the atom-bomb project.

      It begins by noting the high price ($60) paid for The Outsider and Others, which had sold for $5 some ten years earlier. Then it goes on to report about the genres of science fiction and fantasy, mentioning what must have been an unfamiliar term, “fanzines” (in italics), and it notes Fantasy Commentator—where “fanzine” may have first seen print—as “perhaps the best of the fanzines” (p. 16). In them it states that one may find such a phrase as “Love that Lovecraft!” or come across something about Bradbury. Of the few critical titles that deal with the genre, Supernatural Horror in Literature is included. Among popular “science-and-fantasy” writers are A. Merritt and Lord Dunsany, while Weird Tales and Amazing Stories are referenced.

     The HPL section begins “Howard Phelps [sic] Lovecraft was the first notable modern practitioner of science-and-fantasy in this country. A shy, sensitive recluse who lived alone in an old dark house in Providence” (p. 17). Gehman refers to his “tremendous influence” through “the Cthulhu Mythos, a series of legends concerned with cosmology and prehistoric races,” a tidy and perceptive summary. The article explains that August Derleth and Donald Wandrei started Arkham House, and there is something on the activities of the former. Several genre anthologies are listed, in which, coincidentally, a few have Lovecraft stories.


 A Dissenting Opinion on the Library of America

     A search on Google for just “Library of America” brings Lovecraft’s Tales up as the second entry. That’s popularity.

     Among the commentators on Tales is Nick Mamatas, who questions that the purpose of Library of America is canonization. Fair enough. (I’ll interject that he makes some comments on HPL that don’t wash, as well as offering some judgments masquerading as substance, but that’s another several paragraphs.) However, he suggests that Lovecraft got canonized through the large publisher Penguin, without realizing the irony, since he had described Library of America as “a grab bag,” which is much truer for the titles that Penguin has published through the years.

     But enough of this prolegomenon. I want to talk a very little about the text of LoA. I have shown in earlier issues that S.T. allowed some Lovecraft typos in the Arkhams. Now he is on the receiving end. If you thought LoA used these pristine texts, or that they were without typos, think again.

     This tale begins with my re-reading of “Pickman’s Model.” I figured that I would select it from Tales. I was pleasantly going along until my brow wrinkled, perhaps figuratively, at the following, which I will join in mid- sentence: “... arches and wells leading nowhere in this or that old place as it comes down–you should see one near Henchman Street from the elevated last year” (p. 201). “You should see one”? I checked my 1984 corrected Arkham House version, and it logically has “you could see one.” Yet on page 822 (“Note on the Texts”) the Peter Straub-edited  volume states “these tales have been taken... from... The Dunwich Horror and Others” (1984).

     Why is there a variation from the text? Maybe there was a bug in the software (or humanware) that transferred to the print. Even more pungently, if it happened once, it may have occurred a number of times. Surely this is not text to teach from, however respectable the brand and its package.


Preface for an Alphabetical Subject Listing of News and Websites

     As a change I am putting in alphabetical order brief information on subjects that deal with HPL; before, I followed the subject sequence of the Library of Congress classification system, which allowed some related subjects to be close to one another (as “Theater” and “Movies”), an arrangement that sometimes made sense. However, this new arrangement is more obvious and simple, though still somewhat arbitrary. Note that the heading, “Contemporaries” is not in alphabetical order, since it does not deal directly with HPL. 



     While this may be for Poe rather than Lovecraft, I will note that the artist Archie Musick has a painting on exhibit at the State Historical Society of Missouri called “The Haunted Palace,” with a suitably fantastic atmosphere. (For something else about Poe, see “Nevermore,” an online exhibition of his works).



     Hear podcasts of a reading based on the Lovecraft wikipedia article as well as of “The Nameless City.” There is also an adaptation of “The Outsider” by Sound Stages. Find these by searching “lovecraft” at



     In her comic book incarnation Xena, the Warrior Princess, will be meeting something from the world of Lovecraft. *** His work is to be given a modern day treatment in Haunt of Horror: H.P. Lovecraft, from Marvel, under the MAX imprint. 



     With lectures and films, a first “Lovecraft in Vermont” festival was held in Brattleboro, Vt. Its founder, Alan Eames, discusses his fascination with HPL in an article (19 Oct 2006) in the Rutland Herald 


Criticism, etc.

     Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture (Duke University Press, 2006) by Annalee Newitz discusses him, colonialism, and The Birth of a Nation in a chapter on the undead. *** In his review of stories by Conrad Aiken (The New Republic, 28 Nov 1960), John Updike rather dismissively calls HPL a “spook-monger.” Funny, how often HPL is disparaged by comparison with writers who inevitably fade from readers’ consciousness, while the Old Gentleman remains. Updike’s work, too, may one day depend on the life-support of literature classes. *** Some unnamed person refers to “the superlative and often-overlooked stories of a Providence man, H. P. Lovecraft” (The Newport Daily News, 12 April 1957). Maybe the motive is Rhode Island pride, or it is a flash of perceptiveness. *** Author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Allan Gurganus classes HPL with Somerset Maugham, Booth Tarkington, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, and others who are “top-drawer second-rank short-story writers” (Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2006, p. 132).



     A forward-looking teacher? In The Teacher of English, His Materials and Opportunities (A. Swallow, 1956), James Edward Warren advises “I have often recommended Wodehouse, Haggard, Lovecraft, Farnol and others not on required lists and have found them excellent for certain students” (p. 89). *** School Library Journal (1 July 2006) recommends The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (Penguin, 1999) for adult and high school readers.



     A 2005 honors thesis from Brown University is Lurkers at the Threshold: Fans of H.P. Lovecraft by Heather Velez.



     I’ve reported in the past about a distant relative, Frederick A. Lovecraft, who committed suicide in 1893. Here is a bit more, though I have only been able to find just this sentence. According to The Daily Review (October 28, 1893; Decatur, Illinois) “Mr. Lovecraft had for some time been suffering from incipient paresis.” As I reported in Critica’ 35, a Joshua Lovecraft was confined for the same cause in the 1890’s. Here, then, along with Winfield, is possibly a third Lovecraft to be afflicted in this decade. Despite coverage from other newspapers, this is the first mention of Frederick’s  association with paresis.

     Also, in 1875 “Fred A. Lovecraft” was a witness to a payment related to a theatrical performance. See volume 2, p. 285 of A History of the New York Stage, from The First Performance in 1732 to 1901, by T. Allston Brown (first published 1903).

     (See under the heading “Name” for more about this Lovecraft.)



     The oldest “show cave” in the U.S., Grand Caverns (Virginia) is host to a one-quarter mile scare tour of characters from Lovecraft. Called “Cthulu [sic] Asylum: Monsters Amok,” it has around forty volunteers and runs for three days, ending on Hallowe’en.  



     Several reviews I’ve read of The Ruins by Scott Smith suggest that there are Lovecraftian echoes; though the idea of an evil plant growing in Mayan ruins seems more like another Smith, Clark Ashton. Scott Smith wrote the book, A Simple Plan, on which the movie of the same name was based, and was directed by Sam Raimi, whose The Evil Dead has some Lovecraftian echoes. *** Secret agent Bob Howard is back to deal with eldritch horrors in The Jennifer Morgue (Golden Gryphon Press) by Charles (The Atrocity Archive) Stross (see Critica’ 41). It seems likely that the villain with the last name of Billington is a simple coincidence rather than an acknowledgment of The Lurker at the Threshold. *** At the Molehills of Madness by Rhys Hughes is available from Pendragon Press.  This should not be confused with the essay in The Cimmerian (2005), “At the Mammaries of Madness” by Rick McCollum.



     The September Rue Morgue magazine has an article, “Lovecraft in Japanese Literature,” which is concerned with Japanese fiction writers influenced by him. Several past issues (e.g., October 2005) have had articles on him. Perhaps it should be no surprise that one of the editors has a Lovecraft tattoo



     While director Guillermo del Toro is still trying to do an adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness, it appears that his next film will be a Hellboy sequel. Furthermore, according to the site “Comic Book Resources,” “del Toro makes a comparison between comics fans and Lovecraft fans. Comics fans are upset at small things that are changed in movies, but it's almost impossible to please Lovecraft fans, they're ‘10 times worse.’”  Among the director’s past movies with Lovecraft associations have been Mimic (based on a short story by Donald A. Wollheim) and Hellboy. *** See the trailer for The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision, and Phenomenon of H.P. Lovecraft (2003 title from Among the interviewees are Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, S. T. Joshi, and Brian Lumley. *** H. P. Lovecraft’s Road to L (whose original Italian title is Il Mistero di Lovecraft and translates as The Mystery of Lovecraft) was nominated for (but lost) the Golden Méliès film award given to the best European genre film. The ceremony was in Finland which seems to becoming a hotbed of Lovecraft interest. *** In a September interview with “Ain’t It Cool News,” director Peter Jackson talks about special computer effects being used for “some Lovecraftian horror.” Indeed, the landscape of crevasses in his King Kong (2005) would have been a suitable setting for R’lyeh. ***  Less Lovecraftian than reflecting elements that appear to be derived from Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker (and Thomas Ligotti?), The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello is being turned into a feature film, according to “Ain’t It Cool News.” This silhouette-animated work assumes a world of iron dirigibles flying amidst a skyscape with cloud islands that contain monsters. If you get a chance to see it, I recommend that you do so. It is available on DVD at a site that continues the make believe of its fantasy world. *** According to, characters from The Beast Within are called “Curwin” [sic] and “Dexter Ward..” Its screenwriter, Tom Holland (Fright Night, etc.) is directing a “Masters of Horror”episode (# seven) for Showtime.    



     A concert entitled “Echoes of the Dreamtime” to be held in Pasadena, Calif. on Lovecraft’s birthday includes readings from him as well as Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is performed by classical double bassist Tom Peters. *** Book of Black Earth is a Seattle hardcore/metal band formed from Teen Cthulhu. *** Several years ago an Ofian distributed an able essay on Lovecraft-inspired music. Here is a book on the subject by a non-EODer, Gary Hill, The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft (, 2006). *** Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo has praised Lovecraft’s creative influence.



      In 1902 “Lovecraft” appeared in a translation of the poet Pindar.  In the “Ninth Pythian Ode” a Centaur states “Secret are wise Lovecraft's keys unto love's sanctities” (see p. 332, The Universal Anthology: A Collection of the Best Literature, Ancient, Mediæval and Modern, by Richard Garnett, Léon Vallée, Alois Brandl (1902)). *** “The Love Craft (for Mother’s Day)” is a poem published in the Oakland Tribune (13 May 1934). *** “Love Craft” is the moniker of a horse in a race at Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay, (Washington Post, 28 June 1888). Since Frederick A. Lovecraft served as secretary of the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay, the horse’s name sounds like an in-joke. *** The bride’s last name is “Craft,” and her first is “Love” (The Chief-Reporter (Perry, Iowa), 1 Sep 1898). *** According to a journalist in "New Straits Times Online," H. P. Lovecraft was a Greenwich Village bookseller named by his father after HPL; and his bookstore was taken over by a big book chain. *** A new book about building loving (and not horrifying) relationships is Lovecraft (Oak Manor Publishing) by Mark Ciocca, a Massachusetts psychologist and couples counselor.



     In talking about Islamist extremists inciting the West to attack, a columnist for the “New York Post Online Edition” (on 20 August, yet) warns them with the phrase, “Do not raise up what ye cannot put down”; though the accurate quote (from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward) is “do not call up any that you can not put down." 



     The Dunwich Horror,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Horla” are a few of the programs to hear at “Old Time Horror Radio.” 


“The Rats in the Walls”

     In August as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival there was a one-man reading of the story at the Mill City Museum, Minneapolis.



     On the back cover of Blue Planet (Summer, 2006; published by the Ocean Conservancy) I was surprised and gratified to find a quote by Lovecraft: “Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of time”; “Time” is mistakenly not capitalized, and there is no attribution to the story, “The White Ship,” but both lapses are minor-minor. 



     “The Thing on the Doorstep,” “The Colour Out of Space,” and an original piece inspired by HPL, “Strange Magicks,” has been brought to the Open Circle Theater in Seattle, Washington. *** Just before Hallowe’en, the Box Theatre (Fort Worth, Texas) is having “An Evening of Weird Tales,” which are original stage adaptations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury and others, according to the Star-Telegram.



     Game miniatures based on the imagination of Lovecraft and others have been manufactured as Horrorclix by WizKids.



     Here’s a question that might one day appear in some genre Trivial Pursuit: What two major weird writers (both admired by Lovecraft) died within twenty-four hours of one another within the same year? The answer is: Robert E. Howard & M.R. James, 11 & 12 June, 1936. *** Speaking of James, audiobooks of his work (Ghost Stories of an Antiquary) as well as that of Ambrose Bierce, Bram Stoker, and others are available free for downloading from Librivox. (And speaking of HPL, see the “Audio” and “Radio” sections above.) *** From the Duluth (Minnesota) News Tribune site: “Mara Kirk Hart will read from her new book, Lovecraft’s New York Circle: The Kalem Club 1924-1927, Saturday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble.” *** Though thoroughly garbled, there is an online article in the Appleton Post-Crescent (14 April 1937) which I take to be about the visit of August Derleth and Donald Wandrei to Alfred Galpin concerning the publication of a memorial volume to HPL. Both Derleth and Wandrei were also guests of Maurice W. Moe. *** Blackwood on Lovecraft (Murqui Press, 1999) has a bookseller’s price tag of $45. According to the seller, it is a reprint of a letter (“2-5-1945”) from Algernon Blackwood to a Mr. McElfresh, in which AB states HPL’s stories don’t scare, but repulse. *** The same catalog lists a reprint of a Lovecraft parody by Robert Bloch that originally appeared in the April 1932 of The Quill, Bloch’s Lincoln High School literary magazine. The cost for the signed item is $750. *** The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award was given to William Hope Hodgson at this year’s Readercon. The award is for “a writer worthy of being rediscovered by today's readers.” One of my favorite works of this author is The Ghost Pirates. In its climax a ship raises itself out of the ocean with ghost pirates aboard. This scene has been sort of filmed, uncredited, in the second part of The Pirates of the Caribbean, subtitled Dead Man’s Chest.


Arthur Machen

     In doing an online search for mention of Lovecraft in books, the title The Heptameron: Tales and Novels of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre appeared. I discovered that it was translated by Arthur Machen, so I wondered what gave. I had the page number where the name of HPL was supposed to be, but another edition in hand, though the page count of both was close. Even so, my perusal of pages on both sides yielded nothing. I figure that a mention of Lovecraft by Machen in a translated source was too good to be true.




     This has been the 50th (50th!) issue of The Criticaster (Hallowe’en 2006, mailing 136) by Stephen R. (aka S., S.R., Steve, etc.) Walker. Eventually published on the Net as The Limbonaut (no 21).

1Ironically, in 2006 a dramatization of this tale was written by Paoli and directed by Gordon.

The town name’s in the title would have to be adjusted, since the location has been moved to Spain. As one of the speakers note, the name of the town is Imboca (rough Spanish for “in the mouth”)

In T.E.D. Klein’s excellent “The Events at Poroth Farm,” the beings identify themselves by stating that they don’t blink.