If you’re a lover of horror and the macabre, then you’ve probably watched films or plays, read stories, or played games that were influenced, directly or indirectly, by the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, more commonly known as H.P. Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937). Indeed, Stephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale,” while author Joyce Carol Oates said that he has exerted “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction.”
Despite Lovecraft’s influence on certain literary genres and his avid cult following, many people are not familiar with the American author and his works of horror, fantasy, poetry and science fiction. Enter the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, which was founded in 1995 by Andrew Migliore. This annual event seeks to “promote the works of H.P. Lovecraft, literary horror, and weird tales through cinematic adaptations by professional and amateur filmmakers.”
The schedule for this year’s festival is varied and includes short films, author readings, audio dramas, and musical performances, among other activities. You’ll find a complete list of events here.
When: September 27-29, 2013
Where: Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, CA, located at 478 West 6th Street in San Pedro
Tickets: Available online
Before writing this post, I did a little research about H.P. Lovecraft, since I didn’t know anything about him and have never read any of his works. What I learned was both troubling and fascinating.
First the troubling revelations. In a recent article titled H.P. Lovecraft: the writer out of time published in The Guardian, writer David Barnett explores the question: Why is Lovecraft more popular than ever when “he had one of the bleakest worldviews ever committed to paper, was racist – and could be a terrible writer?” Barnett asks that question of several people and I found two of their answers particularly worth pondering.
The first is by illustrator and animator Erica Henderson, who states:
Lovecraft made a world where humans are alone, floating on a rock in a terrifying larger universe that we cannot possibly comprehend because our time in it has been so short and we are so insignificant compared to the horrors from the Cthulhu Mythos. So much of modern horror is based on that idea. We wouldn’t have Ghostbusters if it weren’t for Lovecraft – and that’s the best argument I can think of for his work.
The second perspective is by US author Elizabeth Bear, who, accepting that Lovecraft’s views are “revolting”, posits this answer:
Because authors are read, beloved, and remembered, not for what they do wrong, but for what they do right, and what Lovecraft does right is so incredibly effective. He’s a master of mood, of sweeping blasted vistas of despair and the bone-soaking cold of space. He has at his command a worldview that the average human being, drunk on our own species-wide egocentrism, finds compelling for its sheer contrariness.
On the fascinating side of the equation, I learned that Lovecraft created the fictional cosmic entity called Cthulhu, who first appeared in the short story The Call of Cthulhu, published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. This strange monster “with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers” has become the subject of children’s books and the inspiration for a range of stuffed toys. Odd by any account, but entirely consistent with the unusual Lovecraft legacy.