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Monday, June 27, 2011

The Last Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft covered a lot of interesting and seminal themes with his writing, but one he liked a LOT was the idea that some things were just too weird for the human mind to handle.

"I dare not relate that which I saw, because you would go mad from the knowing, and I from the telling!" It's not an EXACT quote, but his protagonists often said similar things. Remember the famous Jack Nicholoson line, "You can't handle the truth?" Well, Lovecraft's favorite trope was that "The truth is so insane and horrible that the human mind would come apart like a house of cards in a typhoon if you REALLY knew what was going on!"

In short... NOBODY could REALLY handle the truth!

And his stories are full of characters who become more and more creeped out as they discover what's going on, to the point where most of them go completely fruity-gumballs and die or end up in an insane asylum... or retire quietly and live out horribly damaged lives, tortured by the horror of what they have seen. The horror. The horror...

Since most of his stories revolved around NOT seeing the monster, this means that most movies based on his work tend to have kind of a tough time. There have been quite a few decent ones -- From Beyond, Re-Animator and its sequels, The Dunwich Horror, and even a pretty-good version of The Call Of Cthulhu -- but most Lovecraft adaptations (The Curse, Cthulhu Mansion, Necronomicon, The Unnameable) kind of fall flat.

Which brings us to The Last Lovecraft... a comedy.

Is it a good movie? No. It is not. But in a weird kind of way, it may be the single truest adaptation of Lovecraft's THEMES that I've ever seen in a movie.

Because the longer I watch it, the creepier it gets. The more uncomfortable it makes me. The weirder and more horrific it becomes.

Not the monsters. The actors.

I can sum up the plot, without spoilers, fairly easily: "The coming of Cthulhu and the Elder Gods is nigh. The Stars Are Right. The world will end soon, and humanity will be done for... unless the last surviving member of the Lovecraft family (a nerd) can put a relic to proper use and stop the Apocalypse from happening, with the help of his even nerdier friends. But our heroes are pursued by Deep Ones and worse things..."

When I heard about this, naturally I was interested. I'm a Lovecraft fan from way back. But this movie... this one is just... wow. You see... the monsters... aren't scary. The people are.

The movie shifts back and forth between following the monsters who are pursuing our heroes to get the magic relic so they can bring about armageddon... and our heroes, who are trying to figure out how to use the relic while staying ahead of the cultists and monsters. The viewpoint shifts back and forth between these two camps.

And you know what? The monsters and cultists are actually pretty comforting. They're guys in masks and special effects makeup who ham it up and act like monster bad guys in a million other B-movies. It's like old home week. Family reunion, even.

... while the nerds? The nerds are the most unlikeable, awkward, geeky, socially maladroit (even with EACH OTHER) dweebs that you ever saw at a Star Trek convention, or gathered around a gaming table. These are the guys who, apropos of nothing, walk up to you in a comic shop, assume you are their friend, and start telling you about their D&D character. These are the nerds that made me give up going to conventions in the first place, the kind of people I don't really wanna be rude to, but would cheerfully chew my leg off to escape from a conversation with. The kind of geek with NO social skills, and a worldview that's skewed enough to make you feel like you're on drugs just from standing too CLOSE to him, you know? Especially the guy in the middle of the poster above. I could practically smell his BO as I watched the movie...

...and as I watched the movie... I realized that this was intentional on the part of the moviemakers. The monsters aren't the monsters in this movie.

We are.

I'm going to go do something more comforting now. This may be the single scariest Lovecraft adaptation I've ever seen...

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