In a sales collaboration with Gentosha Inc., Toei Animation Co., Ltd. releases H.P.Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror and Other Stories on August 28, 2007 under the Ganime DVD label. Director of the DVD is Ryo Shinagawa, the editor-in-chief of a monthly magazine Studio Voice, has also been involved in the production of films.
American author, H. P. Lovecraft—the original writer—is a master of weird fiction steeped in “cosmicism” or “cosmic horror” represented by a unique and original mix of horror and science fiction. Lovecraft is also the originator of a “mythos” featuring the “old one” Cthulhu, a tentacled creature who is worshipped by a cult of fanatics and who is supposed to be sleeping beneath the ocean—Godzilla-like—and will soon return. Lovecraft and Cthulhu have many fans around the world.
Three of the famed author’s original stories are represented here, in amazing three-dimensional “claymation” images created by artist Shohei Yamashita. Added to this is the music of Jim O’Rourke, a composer previously involved in numerous films. The result is an exquisite representation of the way literary and visual horror can work together to great effect to preserve classic works of art and literature.
Cop: “What, so you worship the Devil, then?”
Man covered in blood, laughing: “I don’t believe in the Devil. But I believe in this.”
-from The Void
The Void is a 2016 Canadian horror film written and directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, and produced by Jonathan Bronfman and Casey Walker. It stars Aaron Poole as deputy Daniel Carter, Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Powell, Daniel Fathers as Vincent, Kathleen Munroe as Allison, and Ellen Wong as Kim. The plot follows a group of people who have been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists. The group soon discovers that the hospital has been inhabited by grotesque creatures. [More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Void_(2016_film)]
I don’t know about you, but THIS is the stuff of which my nightmares are made. But, let’s clarify one thing up front that the “UK Teaser Trailer” below gets wrong:
THE VOID IS NOT an homage to John Carpenter. First of all, Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, is based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novelette Who Goes There?* All three of the “Thing” films, in fact (1951, 1982, 2011**) owe a debt to Campbell’s story.
Carpenter’s film is an homage to Howard Phillips Lovecraft.*** I can’t say for sure whether Campbell had Lovecraft in mind when he wrote Who Goes There?—but it’s possible, since the story was published a year after Lovecraft’s death.
**The novelette inspired the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, which historically, is pretty nifty, but it’s not Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece:
THE VOID IS an homage to H. P. Lovecraft.
The full text of the story follows the facsimile pages below.
with original artwork on page 153 by Virgil Finley
I drove a brand-new rental car I couldn’t afford—next year’s model, so in a way it was a car from the future—from the Amherst Amtrak stop and into the Vermont countryside, which was just as picturesque as all the calendar photos had led me to expect. The green mountains flared with red and gold from the changing leaves of fall. I had to stop a couple of times in somnambulant little towns, first for gas and later to use the toilet, and while everyone was polite, talkative even, I felt a few stares. They don’t get a lot of black people around here. Some of these towns: South Shaftsbury and Shaftsbury, East Arlington, and then Arlington—as if having two stoplights or a three-block-long main drag were enough to fission a town into two—were positively nineteenth century. My cell phone didn’t work. They sold maple syrup by the gallon even in the dumpiest of gas stations.
I thought about the brittle old letters in my briefcase, which included (among genial advice on writing and cranky complaints about publishers) a few passages of deep loathing about “the niggers and immigrants who fester and shamble in the slums of our fallen cities.” Ah, Lovecraft. I always wondered how my great-grandfather’s letters back to him might have read. I doubted if old Cavanaugh Payne ever told his idol that he was a “miscegenator” himself. Three generations later, I was fresh out of white skin privilege myself, but I had enough of Cavanaugh’s legacy to clear all my debts, assuming I could ever find the isolated country house where this collector lived.
The hand-drawn map Fremgen had mailed me was crude, and obviously not to scale, so it was a little like following a treasure map made by a pirate with a spatial perception disorder. I’d tried to find better directions online, but none of the map sites even recognized the name of the street he lived on: Goodenough Road. I understood why when, as late afternoon shaded into evening, I found his signless dirt road surrounded by maple and pine trees. The only marker by the rutted track was a squat statue carved out of some black marble; the figure looked like the offspring of a toad and a jellfyish, wearing a weathered, white stone crown. The collector had drawn a little picture of the stone road marker on my map. I’d assumed it was a childish scrawl, but in truth it wasn’t a bad likeness. It wasn’t a bad likeness of a bad likeness anyway.
After bumping down the road—dotted with other even more indescribable statues—for about five minutes I found the house, a three-story wooden monstrosity with a vast front porch wrapped around at least three sides, and carriage house sagging down into itself off to one side. Whatever color these buildings had once been, the boards had faded to a sort of stoney gray, and they both looked on the verge of disintegration. Trees pressing in close, eager to take back the land. I parked the car and got out, and in the silence of dusk the slamming car door was the loudest thing I’d ever heard. I approached the house, with its windows all blinded by curtains, and went up the paint-flecked steps to the porch, where a swing hung broken from one chain. This wasn’t promising. I’d been assured that this collector was wealthy, but he didn’t look rich from here. Maybe I’d turned down the wrong road, and was about to be attacked by some backroads cannibal who wore the skin of his victims as an apron. Well, probably not.
I knocked on the solid wooden door.
You know I’m a huge fan of everything “Lovecraftian”. As I read more and more into the occult, what it means, its sources, the culture surrounding it, I realize that many of our greatest writers—from Arthur Machen, to Algernon Blackwood, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Howard Phillips Lovecraft—wrote about subjects steeped in the idea of forbidden knowledge, that which is “hidden”—which is what the term “occult” really means.
Here is a brief yet fascinating look at occult elements in the work of Lovecraft. Read on worshippers, read on!
Lovecraft & the Occult
A major component of cosmic horror in general, and of Lovecraft’s work in particular, is the element of the occult. In many ways, Lovecraft’s occult aspects are true to the origins of the word: much of what various characters in his stories seek is that which remains hidden or concealed from view. By uncovering and practicing secret rituals and speaking ancient words, these characters reveal powerful knowledge and cosmic truths, both awesome and terrifying in their implications and scope. For decades, scholars have explored Lovecraft’s real-life connections to the occult, based on his fiction, his correspondence, and his personal life, in order to unravel whether he had some truly esoteric link to realms beyond ours, or was simply an imaginative dreamer from Providence. He may very well have been a little of both.
Above: Lovecraft’s “Elder Sign” in Various Manifestations (Pinterest).
Lovecraft’s correspondence with others in his circle of friends suggests that, while he was well-read on the subject, he was not a personal practitioner of magick.6 Much of his knowledge of the occult seems to have come from books on European witchcraft, written by people outside those witch-groups and colored by the perceptions of non-Christian religions during his time, as well as colonial American witchcraft, as described by witch hunters of Salem like Cotton Mather.6 Some of these latter sources contain alleged accounts from accused witches, although the credibility and interpretation of such accounts would necessarily be, at best, somewhat questionable.
A movement toward freer expression of religion in the 1970s has given us some insight, however, into magickal systems. We have come to see that while some of the details of actual occult practice, both modern and traditional, are often misrepresented in Lovecraft’s work, there is much that Lovecraft incorporates that is, surprisingly, close enough to give actual practitioners pause. An examination of the specific words used by Lovecraft suggests that he was not intimately aware of actual occult practices for raising demons or demonic gods, since his language in the rituals more closely resembles protective spells, which include the invocation of various names of the Judao-Christian God (or slightly altered versions of those names), such as Hel, Heloym, Emmanvel, Tetragrammaton, and Iehova, as well as names of archangels, such as Sother and Saboth, referenced in “The Horror at Red Hook” (2, 6). These names are generally used in protective sigils by practitioners of magick against entities summoned against their will for service or information. Such usage would seem counterproductive in the raising of those entities themselves.