Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown
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H.P. Lovecraft was the forefather of modern horror fiction. What lead an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature's most far-reaching mythologies? What attracts even the minds of the 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods? This release is a chronicle of the life, work, and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today's luminaries of dark fantasy including John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Caitlin Kiernan, and Peter Straub. Extras include 90 minutes of extended interviews, stills galleries of Lovecraftian art, ""Making of the Music"" featurette, trailer, and coming attractions.
Accomplished, meticulously-researched and well-rounded --Horror.com
A solid documentary that s sure to appeal to everyone --Dread Central
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"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. " (The Call of Cthulhu)
Lovecraft would probably be stunned to learn that decades after his death he would have so many fans around the world, films based on his stories, other authors paying homage to him, plush Cthulhu dolls and every other bit of merchandising imaginable. I remember discovering Lovecraft in the 1980s and realized that his work was more appealing to people living in the late 20th century than his own time.
This documentary is extremely well made, with lots of interviews by people well qualified to discuss his life and fiction writings, including the evolution of his views away from the reactionary racial/anti-Semitic ideas of his youth. I wish there was more time spent on his non-fiction, though.
I was not disappointed. This documentary fulfilled all my expectations. It was like spending a few hours with authors whose work I love, and film makers whose mvoies I admire, and all of them love HPL as much as me! I could only wish it was an actual meeting in some cozy pub.
I think this film would serve admirably to acquaint someone unfamiliar with Lovecraft's somewhat peculiar life, and also unfamiliar with his works, with why HPL occupies such a special place in American horror fiction. If you already an assiduous Lovecraftian there will be nothing new here, but you will see some wonderful period photographs and some lovely images of Providence. I think the Frank Woodward did a great job of covering all the important aspects of HPL's life and world view, including his childhood, his teen breakdown/depression, his marriage and why it failed, his racism, his identification with the concept of an English gentleman, his poverty and publication history, and his relationships with other authors. Some might quibble over a detail or two, or might want the emphasis changed a bit, but I think it was a both fair and complete presentation of the man. Clearly this was a labor of love.
What were the highlights for me? Well, everything. Particularly I loved seeing my favorite authors and directors speaking, showing how familiar they are with HPL, how they are so insightful about his influence on them, his limitations and his place in 20th and 21st century horror fiction. I loved every minute Robert Price was on screen. ST Joshi came across as both well educated and jovial, if you can believe it! Neil Gaiman hit the nail on the head when he said the HPL's Cthulhu mythos story was something you read, added to and passed on to the next person. Caitlyn Kiernan has an imposing screen presence. Ramsay Campbell's bits were another highlight. John Carpenter and Guillermo del Toro both came across as erudite and quite a lot of fun, and both pointed out how so much horror today echoes of HPL even if the viewer/reader isn't aware of it. I liked how when they were describing HPL's best known tales they used Lovecraftian art from many sources, including original covers, and interviewed multiple commentators about each piece.
Production qualities are high, the running time is too brief for me and I was left wanting more. I can't recommend this film highly enough.
Fear of the Unknown is a mesmerizing piece of work that succeeds on many levels. Ostensibly this is a film about the somewhat disturbing existence of the man who arguably fathered modern horror. The viewing experience is further heightened by listening to the erudite thoughts of such brilliant creators as Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, et al. The interview segments with Caitlin Kiernen alone are worth the price of the movie.
And finally - the music score dangled on the edge of brilliant thoughout, becoming an understated character in its own right. Haunting, disorienting, beautiful. Bravo to Mars of Deadhouse Music.
Oh, and be sure to look for the easter egg to catch a deliriously whacky little short film by Mars. Where is the easter egg? Just remember: H.P. Lovecraft is watching you.