The Monsters on Maple Street
In “The Dunwich Horror” the Old Ones threaten “to wipe out the human race and drag the earth off to some nameless place for some nameless purpose.” Maybe they’d do it by way of a mist with monsters, the premise of the movie The Mist based on the Stephen King novella of the same name. I’ve read a handful of King works, and along with “Jerusalem’s Lot” this is my favorite. I liked the movie adaptation a lot.
I hoped that director and writer Frank Darabout would make some allusion to HPL, and perhaps he does, indirectly. In an early scene are movie posters from John Carpenter’s The Thing and Guillermo Del Toro's Pan’s Labyrinth, both director’s being avowed HPL fans.
From a Lovecraftian perspective what I liked was the buildup of an atmosphere of supernatural-tinged science fictional dread–an essence of Lovecraft’s power. The first tangibly seen thing appears only as a group of tentacles, which I’ve heard–not needlessly agreeing– signifies his influence. When things are half-seen or disguised by the mist their power to suggest is so much greater, but in the movie when they act, this power is dissipated or transformed. The monsters invade the store that people have used as a refuge, and there’s a battle; this changes the tone of fright, and the aesthetic pleasure moves away from Lovecraft territory to that type of fear purged through action and thrills of danger. This may be entertaining and more crowd-pleasing, but it lacks that special quality of frisson.
Likewise, the most gruesome sequence, which involves the mutilation of human bodies by daemonic spiders, could only be considered Lovecraftian in the sense that the monsters are so antipathetically alien as to be dreadful in themselves. Yet their physicality is based on the “bug” mode–insects, arthropods, mollusks (octopus), rather than the cosmic one that HPL later strived for. However, the monsters in the mist are not content to just scare us, but harm us explicitly, which goes away from the Lovecraftian horror effect. In his story King’s narrator states the things were “no Lovecraftian horrors with immortal life but only organic creatures with their own vulnerabilities.”
In the novella one monster however does suggest the Lovecraftian, combining a sense of horror with wonder due to its unbelievable stature, its “Cyclopean legs” (to quote King) supporting a body that can’t be viewed from the ground, though fortunately the movie does show us something.
Finally, The Mist’s uncompromising world view of bleakness where men are treated like insects by greater and nastier beings might find its correspondence in HPL’s work. However, much else goes on in the movie to make it more appealing and relevant to human concerns–politics and religion, notably, as revealed in the dynamics of people trapped in a store and coming to realize an irrational force is attacking them. This is much more the stuff of Rod Serling. Considering how much time is spent in a store, the movie could very well be transformed into a stage play.
The weakest part of the story and the movie is an explanation of how the mist came to be and what it is. Lovecraft, I suggest, would have made that a central issue and not a detour. On the other hand, he would have ignored the psychology of the trapped humans which absorbs so much of the King work.
I’ve mentioned Guillermo Del Toro. He wants to shoot At the Mountains of Madness. Now I’m going into spoiler territory. Del Toro has said one reason the studios are hesitant to back the project is that there is no love story and the ending is bleak. This description fits “The Mist,” whose ending is as downbeat as they come–as was, to a lesser degree, Pan’s Labyrinth. If it can be made, maybe there is hope for the portrayal of a faithful Lovecraft world view–though I’ll note the irony of using in this context the word “hope.”
“The Mist” Allusions
As a result of seeing the movie I re-read “The Mist,” and took note of allusions to weird fiction. First, there’s William Hope Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates (1909). I’m thinking less of the shared premise—the use of a dimension impinging on ours—than of something quite obvious. King heads one chapter “The Coming of the Mist,” while in The Ghost Pirates a chapter is “The Coming of the Mist and That Which It Ushered.” There’s another Hodgson story full of mist and tentacles (“The Thing in the Weeds”) that seems a forerunner to a scene in “The Mist,” where a rubbing sound on the grocery’s dock door turns out to be a group of tentacles that grabs someone when the door is opened. In Hodgson story’s Something in the night and mist grabs a sailor and is heard on the deck of a ship, demolishing objects such as sheep-pens. It is presented as a supernatural being, but is revealed to be the machinations of a huge squid.
Later in the King story, Arthur Machen is introduced, though uncredited, through a reference to a rose that sang (in “The White People”).
Perhaps I cast my net of interpretation too wide when I suggest that in explaining the phenomena of the appearance of the creatures there is something of “From Beyond.” King’s narrator wonders if “new doors of perception were opening up inside” the mind, a reversion to childhood’s way of seeing. This had been triggered, perhaps, by the machinery of lasers and masers; or was it an experiment that opened up another dimension and created “different atoms”? At any rate, the parallel is that in “From Beyond” machinery allows people to experience a “newly visible world that lies unseen around us,” another dimension in which horrible creatures exist, that compose (like atoms, it seems) “the pure air and the blue sky.” They kill people, just through the perception of their appearance.
In “The Mist” the giganticism of the monster with the “Cyclopean legs” has a touch of “the storied Cyclops,” Cthulhu (“a mountain walked or stumbled”).
Finally, there’s a mention of Weird Tales as it related to the popularity of the supernatural, a writer character suggesting that this pulp declined and went extinct in the decades of the forties and fifties because it apparently did not nurture this need.
Congratulations, Henrik, who has edited and published From the Shadows and Other Cthulhu Mythos Short Stories (H. Harksen Productions). Unfortunately if you don’t read Danish, the enjoyment may be short-lived. A list of stories is online. *** A description of Wilbur Whateley makes it into Umberto Eco’s anthology On Ugliness (Rizzoli, 2007).
It appears that there is available a bilingual catalog for “An Exhibition of Unspeakable Things,” works inspired by H. P. Lovecraft's Commonplace Book. It is presented by Maison d'Ailleurs, which as previously noted in ‘aster 52 is commemorating the 70th anniversary of Lovecraft's death through the interpretation of one-hundred artists.
A five-part podcast of “The Shadow over Innsmouth” (by the Atlanta Radio Theater Company) is available for download from SFFaudio. *** Relic Radio has available several downloads for HPL stories.
S.T.’s A Dreamer and a Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in His Time is viewable through Google’s Book Search. The text can be searched and individual pages displayed.
Chris Knowles’ Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes (Weiser Books, 2007) has a section on HPL, which receives critical scrutiny by Dan Harms.
“The Turtle Can't Help Us: The Lovecraft Legacy in Stephen King's It” by Margaret L. Carter can be read at “Strange Horizons.” *** A new work by Jason Colavito—who wrote The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft And Extraterrestrial Pop Culture—is Knowing Fear: Science, Knowledge and the Development of the Horror Genre (McFarland, 2007), which sounds as though it might make some acknowledgement to HPL.
The Case of Howard Phillips Lovecraft has been released on dvd through FACETS. I recently saw it, and don’t recommend it.
“The Shunned House” receives pedagogical treatment for Lovecraft Week Five from a Harry Potter blog.
If Abdul al-Hazred abjured more than pork, maybe he would have conceived Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (Marlowe & Co., 2007) by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
Canceled: a live-action role playing event that was to take place in February in Rome, Georgia and was called “The Dark Egg of the Phoenix: Live Action Lovecraftian Horror.”
For the second time—Scream for Jeeves was the first—Bertie Wooster meets Lovecraftian horrors, in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (Wildstorm, 2007) by Alan Moore.
Two covers of Home Brew (“America’s Zippiest Pocket Magazine”) are on exhibit at “Magazine Data File.” According to one blurb on Home Brew’s cover “The Horror from the Shadows” is “Better than Edgar Allan Poe.” *** Planet Lovecraft is a black-and-white illustrated quarterly horror magazine with comics, articles, and interviews.
The silent The Call of Cthuhu (2005) made it to the Independent Film Channel’s list of best non-theatrical debuts of 2007.
According to Michael Swanwick, “Necronomicon” is the name of a string quartet played recently in Philadelphia by the Miró Quartet. However, apparently the composer John Zorn knew little about HPL. *** Lyrics to “Ex Oblivone” by Insision have been posted. *** Watch and hear musician Mark E. Smith read “The Colour out of Space.”
An “Edgar Lovecraft” had a letter in Weird Tales (June 1934). This must be one of the earliest uses of the Lovecraft pseudonym by a fan.
Helen Keeble summarizes the paper “On the Horror of Phenomenology: Lovecraft and Husserl” by philosopher of metaphysics Graham Harman of the American University in Cairo.
A post about “Raptor Candidate” includes a political poster for “Cthulhu 2008.”
The British Fantasy Society has out H.P. Lovecraft in Britain: A Monograph by Stephen Jones. It is a history of how Lovecraft’s works came to be published in the UK, including how some volumes were compiled. The cover is a best artwork nominee for the 2007 British Science Fiction Association Awards.
“Celebrating H.P. Lovecraft: A Literary Walk, Providence” is being offered on the anniversary of his death through the Rhode Island Historical Society. The cost is $12.
There’s a good, detailed history of the unique magazine by Bhob that discusses both Jacob Clark Henneberger and William J. Delaney, Sr. The accompanying YouTube video shows a quick, individual scan of all(?) WT covers.
See a photo of Lovecraft’s message (January 8, 1932) to Forest J Ackerman, “acutest of critics,” at http://4forry.best.vwh.net, in “The Library” section.
“The Voice of the Mountains” (vol. 5, no. 1) has an article by Daniel Alan Ross about Manly Wade Wellman and the Mythos. *** “Horatio Hornblower meets H.P. Lovecraft” according to Revolution SF on the front cover of the novel Set the Seas on Fire (Solaris, 2007) by Chris Roberson. However, a synopsis reminded me more of A. Merritt’s The Moon Pool. *** In an interview with Library Journal F. Paul Wilson talks of his “H.P. Lovecraftian haunted house story (The Haunted Air).” Asked what influenced his Repairman Jack series and The Adversary Cycle, he replied that it was in part Lovecraft and his mechanistic universe. *** The HPL parody “The Horror South of Red Hook” has been collected in Richard Lupoff’s The Compleat Ova Hamlet (Ramble House, 2007). *** In an interview writer Jeffrey Thomas talks of HPL and mentions Wilum. *** Gary Fry has authored World Wide Web and Other Lovecraftian Upgrades (Humdrumming, 2007). The collection of Mythos tales is “used to inform contemporary concerns, to provoke laughter, to make you think, to employ alternative narrative devices.” *** Martha Wells reflects his influence, among that of others.
When asked about reading HPL, Orson Scott Card graciously replied: “I tried reading several of his stories and could never understand what all the fuss was about. Apparently I lack the Lovecraft gene. I’m sure it’s my loss.”
The short story by H.G. Wells, “The Door in the Wall,” is discussed in relationship to HPL and the Weird, at the Weird symposium.
When asked in an interview by The Wall Street Journal which three books from his volume Classics for Pleasure he would recommend to the Journal’s readers, Michael Dirda named Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and M.R. James ghost stories. *** On Hallowe’en eve John J. Miller had an article about Arthur Machen in The Wall Street Journal. *** Via Chris Perridas’ weblog I found an article on W. Paul Cook. *** University of Nebraska Press reprinted in 2006 Clark Ashton Smith’s Lost Worlds and Out of Space and Time, both with introductions by Jeff VanderMeer. *** Fritz Leiber’s “The Creature from Cleveland Depths” can be downloaded at Manybooks.net *** “Ansible” lists the 2008 centennial year of several writers, among them Donald Wandrei and Carl Jacobi.
Mailing 139–But Who’s Counting?
Henrik: Re your proposed investigation of the Tunguska explosion and its link to “The Colour out of Space”: You will need to show likely sources–with complete citations--whence HPL read about this and produce evidence (from his letters, essays, etc.) that he was aware of the event. Otherwise, I would argue that HPL was using familiar meteorological behavior to describe the aerolite that came to earth. So far as the description of “Colour’s” dread valley (“five acres of grey desolation,” etc.) that you evidence as something that is fairly close to the Tunguska devastation, I’d argue that Lovecraft’s description fits in better with the “wasteland” motif in literature, especially when influenced by what battlefields had become in the recent Great War. If you can successfully address these objections, I’ll be interested to see your research. *** You suggest that I publish the Lovecraft-Bradbury essay elsewhere. The twenty-five cent question is, where? There is virtually no academic market for this subject. And if what few title that do exist pass, then I’m sool (to use an impertinent acronym). *** You were rather disappointed by “Crouch End”? Had the story been more Lovecraftian, it might have been more derivative and just a pastiche, in the tradition of August Derleth and others. This Is Not a Good Thing. At best the televisionisation of “Crouch End” was okay, no more. *** To put it in a paraphrase, you ask why I don’t believe Bradbury’s “The Foghorn” should be in a collection of supernatural stories. The premise of a dinosaur-like animal existing in modern times is not supernatural, but science fictional. While it may be moody (and poetic) to have it answering the call of a foghorn, I find nothing supernatural here. But you do. Care to explain? *** Stephen King impresses me as an enthusiastic and perceptive reader of others’ work. I wish there were many more like him. *** What is the name of the anthology where your From a Buick 8 essay will appear? *** You’ve given me a different viewpoint about the popularity of reading in Denmark. Evidence beyond hearsay will take some research. *** You’re probably closer to the truth in your observation that pulp fiction had a readability then that doesn’t exist for today’s audience (but how many a classic writer is likewise unreadable today?). Yet this is a far cry from calling pulp fiction “nearly unreadable.” There remain a sizable number of readers for Howard, Smith, etc. who wrote pulp fiction.
Phillip: I doubt that you’ll get much argument about the important place of Classicism in Lovecraft’s writing. In his poetry he was most successful when he used rhyming couplets to express wit. But these are not the poems you choose to criticize. Please note: when you use abbreviations in your citations, please have a key to what these abbreviations signify, preferably in a list at the beginning or end of the essay. *** You suggest that when HPL was using “the language of emotion” he was not using reason, but perhaps he was using emotion to punctuate his reason. *** Your essay is very ambitious, and perhaps needs to be expanded to satisfactorily cover its topic.
A. Langley: Big thanks–and what a scoop!–for the reproduction of the letter from Susie Lovecraft and the short reply from her son. The first helps humanize Susie and shows her as a loving and emotional being, something that can be overlooked in the Lovecraft biographies. The single quibble I have is that I cannot decipher a few words. I wonder what “Institute in Brooklyn” HPL planned to attend; could it be one that dealt with chemistry? As for Lovecraft’s brief note–considering his disinclination for the typewriter, I wonder why he typed it. Was this something he was customarily doing at this time of his life, or did he feel that etiquette demanded it? Since he signed himself “H.P. Lovecraft” I wonder if he preferred to go by his initials as opposed to “Howard” as his friends called him. Maybe “H.P.” was for people he did not know well.
Ben: I’ve looked in vain online for the interview about Robert Bloch that you gave to Michael G. Pfefferkorn.
T.R.: I’m glad that you researched what constitutes the meaning of “popularity” as applied to Weird Tales. It is about time. I’m sorry that through the years I never reflected sufficiently on the idea; even if I had, I would never have given it the care you have lavished. In defining “popularity” you rightly distinguish quantity from quality. Quinn’s output and the number of years that he contributed were greater than the Big Three, so he was more popular.
When you relate author covers to popularity I feel you are on shakier ground. For example, an author might be commissioned to compose a story based on a cover–was this done for Weird Tales? Or an artist may find it simpler–technically and imaginatively–to illustrate certain authors. It was easier (cheaper?) to illustrate Elliot O’Donnell’s “The Ghost Table”–a guy holding a girl and an automatic–in Weird Tales (February 1928 cover) than that same issue’s “The Call of Cthulhu.” Of course, maybe Farnsworth Wright and his successors just liked Quinn better. There is nothing like being popular with editors.
You state HPL “is often cited as having no covers on Weird Tales.” The citers are obviously lazy with their facts; e.g., they could have consulted John E. Vetter’s “Lovecraft’s Illustrators” (The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces). Re reader polls not being a random sample (“‘vocal’ readers are over-represented against ‘quiet readers’”): this self-selection is sufficiently random for choosing the most popular story; U.S. officials get elected by the “vocal” voters, not by the “quiet” (non-voter), even though a majority of the latter may think someone else might be a better, say, President. The poll, then, is an accepted indicator of popularity. (And based on your supposition how could you have confidence in Farnsworth Wright’s 1937 printed list of overall most popular stories, since they must have got there only through “vocal” voters?)
It is ironic that Seabury Quinn was born on one holiday–1 January–and died on the eve of another–24 December–which has a connection to his popular “Roads.” Another irony is that despite being the most popular Weird Tales writer, Quinn has been totally bested by the posthumous triumph of the Big Three. (I’m all for a posthumous triumph, provided you live to enjoy it.) *** I don’t know how you can measure “depth” and “conviction” in Quinn fan mail and find it greater than that given to other writers.
If one were to compare Quinn’s popularity with other pulp writers–those in Argosy, etc.–he would be annihilated by them. Yet today they are even more obscure and unread than Quinn (who I find enjoyable). Similarly, consider the best-selling authors of the past, who have succumbed to fashion and time, while less popular authors have continued.
So far as Quinn being “justifiably and appropriately relegated to the ash-bin of literature”–a three volume The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin appears to be still in print and selling for an ungodly price, so Quinn retains his appeal to some readers.
While you don’t address this, I will say that Quinn’s Jules de Grandin series was popular because it combined the supernatural with the detective story, the genre that had the greatest representation among the types of pulp magazines and probably attracted the greatest number of readers. Quinn was trying to give two types of readers what they wanted in his mixture. Also, I would speculate that Lovecraft would have been in sincere agreement that Quinn was more popular with readers than he. He didn’t have much respect for them (“zippy morons”) and Quinn’s superior popularity would have confirmed their lack of discrimination.
As I’ve stated about other contributions, I hope your valuable essay finds wider distribution and doesn’t get lost in the wilderness of EOD mailings.
S.T.: What a multi-tasker of many projects! *** The Derleth Mythos is in so many ways a minor or trivial subject, yet you expend so much analysis on it.
Fred: So far as the definition of “hierophant” is concerned–isn’t that a large animal, considered sacred by some, with a trunk? (And do I hear people disdaining with the interjection “tusk! tusk!”?)
C.D. (Charles Danny–shouldn’t it be Charles Dexter?): A strength of earth-gazer August Derleth was his practicality, which made him a success in writing and publishing. Likewise, religion is a practical compromise with the world–tackling vital concerns for believers–and providing a template of good-and-evil. This, I speculate, is what Derleth used as the guide for his imagination in the case of horror stories. They were recast from the Bible for a lay audience. This is just another way of agreeing with you (and S.T. &c).
Juha-Matti: Though you don’t specify it, I infer that your introduction to The Lord of the Rings was in Finnish. I was in high school when I heard of the book. It was in a catalog aimed at readers of that age. I recall that it said the title was popular on college campuses. So circa 1965 I ordered the first (Ballantine) volume, and eventually got around to reading it. I liked it well enough to get the two others. Subsequently I have twice re-read it. I later read The Silmarillion, which is more audacious, an epic in scope and time, in some ways like Stapledon’s First and Last Men, and perhaps in its sweep even Lovecraftian. *** I don’t care for the dumbing down of Clark Ashton Smith’s style, re “The Voyage of King Euvoran.” The elevated language conveys so much more oomph.
Linda: Re “most serious academics” seeing HPL as “a minor entity”: my touché is that such persons are being marginalized. *** I didn’t know that Angela Carter had written an essay (“Lovecraft and Landscape”). I did discuss in my ‘aster 29 her essay on HPL, “The Inner Child,” collected in Shaking a Leg (1997). *** Thanks for the gathering of evocative writing by HPL on landscape. In an essay on HPL, Joyce Carol Oates has asked: “Can there be an Eros of the landscape, or place?”
Douglas: According to "Wikipedia," M. J. Elliott (who wrote the Lovecraft introduction) is a British writer, a member of the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain, and has written for U.S. radio series.
Gavin: From decades back I remember Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark as a quite successful chiller, despite the handicap of it being a tv movie. In particular I remember one scene where the heroine is tied up and being pulled by the little people to their lair. Brrr!
Martin: In your account of the 2005 Swedish Lovecraft con I especially liked the anecdote of finding HPL fans by paging him. Unfortunately, the site conviction2007 etc. is no longer in existence. *** I was surprised to learn that in Sweden a regular feature of crime and horror stories appeared in a ladies magazine.
The Burlesons: Don, have a happy part-time retirement. *** As for the Islamic world contributing nothing, historians and scholars have answered that.
John H.: If so many of your opinions are off-the-cuff, does this mean that readers should not take too seriously what you say? *** This is the third commentary I have read on Derleth’s Mythos in this mailing. At the risk of profanity, I wonder if it should be called the Chisthulhu (cumbrous neologism) Mythos, since Derleth mixed in the good-vs-evil template of Christian God vs Satan. Also, I speculate that HPL was more interested in the individual story, whereas Derleth was more interested in the shared world aspect, which required less making up from scratch, saving a writer’s time. *** You’ve conjured up Lovecraft quotes without giving the citations in your Derleth essay. If they’re in the endnotes in the last part, that’s a long wait. *** A “slim volume” of Lovecraft’s poetry does exist, with his best within. Arkham House put Collected Poems out in 1963. *** As for EOD having a bulletin board, we do, though it is months and months between posts. *** Sometimes context is needed, as when replying to a zine. It is not convenient, nor particularly reasonable, to have the reader go back to the previous issue so as to understand where the respondent is coming from. Paraphrase of the other fellow’s view would not be required by you that often.
Scott: The first story by Clark Ashton Smith that I read was “The Seed from the Sepulcher,” in the anthology The Unhumans (1965). That was nasty.
An Allusion in Charles Dexter Ward
In The Case of Charles Dexter Ward there’s a line in a letter: “Stones are all chang'd now in Nine groundes out of 10.” This is repeated with pivotal significance near the end.
As a bit of possible background for this idea, here’s a quote from The Autocrat at the Breakfast-Table (1858) by that distinguished New Englander Oliver Wendell Holmes (mentioned in Supernatural Horror in Literature for his Elsie Venner):
“The most accursed act of Vandalism ever committed within my knowledge was the uprooting of the ancient gravestones in three at least of our city [Boston?] burialgrounds, and one at least just outside the city, and planting them in rows to suit the taste for symmetry of the perpetrators. Many years ago, when this disgraceful process was going on under my eyes, I addressed an indignant remonstrance to a leading journal. I suppose it was deficient in literary elegance, or too warm in its language; for no notice was taken of it, and the hyena-horror was allowed to complete itself in the face of daylight.”
Of Pulp Labels, and of Home Brew
A few comments by veteran pulp editor Harold Hersey in Pulpwood Editor (1937) prove of interest. In looking at categories of pulp magazines he uses the heading of “Pseudo-science and Fantasy” for both Amazing Stories and Weird Tales. Later he uses the terms “futuristic” and “weird fiction” as synonyms for this type of writing, acknowledging he is unsure what to call it. Tellingly, he puts under separate section “Ghost, Horror, Etc.” (How odd it is that Weird Tales would not fall under the ghost and horror label, and that weird fiction would be considered part of the fantasy heading.) He calls Black Cat Magazine “the father of all the modern pulps along this line” (p. 190) and notes that these types of stories “are seldom handled by the professional; it is usually the amateur who attempts them and he soon loses heart after repeated rejections” (p. 191). He speculates on a day when he will issue a pulp that will be called Edgar Allan Poe’s Magazine, each issue including one of Poe’s stories.
There’s also a comment he makes that caused me to think of Home Brew (1922-1923, when it changed its title to High Life). “Around about 1922 the first of the sex magazines were published for an astounded and delighted public” (p. 161).
Cloverfield; or, “Found among the Papers of the Late Francis Wayland Thurston of Boston”
While like The Mist it’s a fine monster movie, there’s little of Lovecraft in Cloverfield, though much of Godzilla. What is interesting is that it uses the medium of a movie as a document–the conceit is that we are watching a video of events filmed chiefly by a single character. In this it is an echo of stories that purport to be documents of events–“The Call of Cthulhu,” Long’s “The Man with a Thousand Legs,” Stoker’s Dracula, etc.
Monster movies typically have a narrative god’s view, but here it is a single human ant’s record of events, events that are incomprehensible–“indescribable,” to give it a Lovecraftian term; this is exceptionally effective in increasing the sense of confusion, terror and realism. Here the “dissociated knowledge” means there’s no back story of a monster–as one sees in many movies–so one is totally unprepared to make sense of events. A weakness inherent in this movie genre is that the monster is the raison d’etre, whereas in, for example, “The Call of Cthulhu” the monster is part of a detailed horror design, and even if it didn’t appear the story would remain imaginatively rich and engaging.