I’m always surprised how I run across things online which I’m not necessarily looking to find; one link leads to another which leads to another and so on. Somehow early this morning I stumbled across the fact my favorite H.P. Lovecraft documentary is available, in it’s entirety, on YouTube. It’s probably old news, since the video was uploaded about six months ago, but if you haven’t had an opportunity to watch Lovecraft: Fear of The Unknown you owe it to yourself to pop up some fresh corn and take it for a spin.
Wyrd Films did a really fine job and include the musings of some of my favorite creative folks who have been inspired by Lovecraft. You get to hear from such notables as Ramsey Campbell, John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Peter Straub, and a whole lot more!
Aw, hell. I’ll simply embed it here and save you the trip to YouTube…
Some of my personal highlights:
There are plenty of contrasting opinions regarding Lovecraft as well as his stories. One interviewee may be especially fond of one tale while another feels the very same piece might be a bit “Meh…” and I love that!
John Carpenter’s ever present cigarette smoke is seen wafting in the fore and background, which always leads me to chuckle. Carpenter has always struck my as a pretty cool guy and, in this day and age of treating smokers as if they’re lepers, it’s obvious he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of his chain smoking. Plus, he made what may just be the quintessential movie of my youth (1982’s The Thing) which never failed to find it’s way into the VCR whenever girls came over and wanted to watch something scary. Heh… Heh… *Wink* I’ve probably seen the movie a hundred times (not only with a date, thank you) because it’s that good and if you’ve never seen In the Mouth of Madness you best get your credit card out and head over to Amazon!
Neil Gaiman is, well… Neil Gaiman. Not only is he obviously a fantastic talent but also always just a pleasure to listen to regardless what topic is tackled; Gaiman seemingly knows something about everything. If you’re in doubt just ask Kevin Smith. The fact Gaiman is so well versed in Lovecraft he can recite an entire passage from the author’s early work is impressive to say the least.
Although the film is about five years old it’s great to see Caitlin R. Kiernan in front of the camera. I have the impression Kiernan is a bit video and microphone shy so any chance we get to listen to her thoughts – regarding nearly anything – is surely worth the price of admission. Personally I think thirty or forty years from now you’ll hear a lot of authors, not yet in print, credit Kiernan as the biggest influence on their work since her writing is utterly unique and rather difficult to pigeonhole into a single genre.
Add to the above Kiernan strikes me as an awesome human being and is one of the only big name authors I’m aware of who keeps a damn near daily blog (Ok… ok… I’ll call it by it’s official name: a Live Journal) detailing not only the writing process but also thoughts on life in general – mainly her life – all the while NOT hawking something every other post. Yes! I’m looking at you George R.R. Martin! Honestly, compare Dear Sweet Filthy World with Martin’s Not a Blog and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
***Quick rambling sidenote***
I know once in a while I give George R. R. Martin a hard time – more so on the old podcasts when Elliott was hosting alongside me than now – but I really don’t have anything against him. I get it. I really do. Even when there were plenty of readers like myself running out to buy the latest Wild Cards volume the day it hit stores or enthralled by the Starks and Lannisters (although I jumped off the throne when it became apparent the series was going to come down with a bad case of Robertjordanitis) Martin was still toiling away in semi-obscurity; Having a New York Times bestseller doesn’t mean you’re heading off to buy a tropical island anytime soon.
Hell, if anything I ever did was to be produced as a TV series or movie I’d be guaranteed to stretch that sucker out to the point it would make the the worst Andy Warhol film look structured and comprehensible. I give George R. R. Martin a lot of credit but his near constant shilling recently has gotten pretty ridiculous.
*** On to more appropriate rambling ***
It’s common knowledge we’re fans of just about everything Lovecraftian around these parts and Lovecraft: Fear of The Unknown is an excellent documentary. H.P. Lovecraft had a lot of “issues” (although I don’t believe he was a walking freak show as some have claimed) and the film addresses these head on so it isn’t as if the author gets a free pass or his practically lifelong stunted world view is looked upon through rose colored glasses. We get Lovecraft with his warts and all, which makes this a very evenhanded treatment on the subject.
If you enjoy the film by all means shoot over to the Wyrd Films website and buy a copy. If you’re new to the Cthulhu Mythos check out the video above and see what the fuss is about. Not only will you be curious to read the original stories but also want to expose yourself to the works of many incredibly talented people Lovecraft inspired as well!