Posted by Danny at 11:23 PMLabels: Look What Danny Watched, Project Horror
Now take H.P. Lovecraft, the great turn-of-the-20th-century horror writer. As of this writing, IMDB tells me that there have been nearly 100 adaptations of his work, but I've never heard of most of them, and the ones I've seen have been a mixed bag. Of course Re-Animator is legendary, and there was a decent episode of "Masters of Horror" based on "Dreams in the Witch-House," but Hollywood has just never tackled his best stuff in a successful way. Lovecraft is probably best known for his stories of the Cthulhu mythos, tales of races so ancient that the very knowledge of them has been lost to time. Their evil is so vast and so unspeakable that even to know about them is to have your mind shattered. The closest a movie has come to capturing that kind of evil is Sex and the City.
Still, hope springs eternal, so when I saw this was available on Netflix I thought I'd give it a try. It started out pretty strongly, set the scene, aroused the curiosity... Unfortunately, that didn't last. The basic plot: Sandra Dee plays a student who becomes romantically involved with the grandson of an occultist who was killed years before. He tells her about the Old Ones, a scene which was interesting in how it departed from the original story. In Lovecraft's stories, they're hideous transdimensional beings of fearsome power. In this movie, they're wild-eyed people wearing smudgy make-up and raggedy tutu-looking things, kind of like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. Once he's shown her the ancient site where fertility rites are practiced, you can pretty much guess what's in store for her. The one bonus in this? Seeing a surprisingly buxom Sandra Dee in a dress with a very revealing cut.
My advice if you want Lovecraft on film is to check out In the Mouth of Madness. It's not actually a Lovecraft story, but it's so clearly based on his stuff that it's a great watch, and it's directed by John Carpenter, so that's all you need to know. As for The Dunwich Horror, I give it two Shrieking Bradshaw Heads out of five.