Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! So sayeth Judge Steve Power!
Explore the world of HP Lovecraft.
The inaugural offering from the newly formed Wyrd Productions takes on the life and writings of one of the founding fathers of Horror literature, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Quite an impressive roster of fans and experts has been assembled to dig into the past of this literary legend, including writers Neil Gaiman, and directors Stuart Gordon, John Carpenter, and Guillermo Del Toro. Over the span of 90 minutes, we are given a thorough and unflinching look at the man, his stories, and their effects on modern horror.
What's most refreshing is the oftentimes bluntly honest look at Lovecraft's foibles, of which there were many. He was a man who lacked self-esteem and self-confidence, was openly racist, and often struggled with depression and alienation brought on by his puritanical upbringing and physical condition. The documentary manages to shine a light on flaws in the man's writing as well, without diminishing his contribution to the literary world as a whole, and the genre of horror in particular.
While the focus of the documentary remains his life and influences, the documentary does sort of rush the legacy left behind by Lovecraft. There is plenty of talk about otherworldy monsters from beyond the stars. No discussion about Lovecraft would be complete without discourse on the ramblings of Alhazred, the mad Arab, best known by pop culture denizens as the Necronomicon, and of course, the octopus headed demigod Cthulhu. But where the documentary falls short is in the legacy of these creations. One could have filled another 90 minutes with talk on the works derived from Lovecraft's imagination, from peers like Robert E Howard and August Dereleth (Dereleth did more to popularize the Cthulhu mythos than Lovecraft himself.)
Technically, The picture and audio on the disc are perfectly acceptable for a documentary. Everyone outside of author Caitlin Kiernan (whose interview was recorded outdoors) is clearly audible, and the visuals are crisp and professionally lit. There's a small but healthy collection of extras—most notably an extended batch of interviews that run almost as long as the feature—providing a wealth of additional information on both the man and his writings which makes them a must watch. There's definitely a layer of darkness to the man; I for one had no idea that he was an admirer and follower of Adolf Hitler (bearing in mind that Lovecraft was dead years before the World War II began).
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown is of definite interest for fans of the horror genre in literature, and Lovecraft fans should boost this to the top of their "must see" list. Wyrd Productions and director Frank H. Woodward have done a outstanding job in finally providing a Howard Phillips Lovecraft documentary with the production value and respect the influential author so richly deserves.
Free to go. Now if only I could get Wyrd Productions to give Robert E. Howard the same treatment.
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