Since Halloween is fast approaching, I thought I’d get us into the mood with a spooky post.
I am a huge fan of the weird fiction of HP Lovecraft. If you’ve never read him before, and appreciate cosmic nihilism, macabre occultist rites, as well as long-winded and archaic diction, you just gotta check him out. I recommend the Library of America’s H.P. Lovecraft: Tales, because it’s hardcover, very extensive with almost 900 onion-skin pages, and has one of those built-in ribbon bookmarks. Perfect for curling up by the fire with a cup of tea and contemplating one’s insignificance in a vast and hostile universe.
And if you’re like me and also love perverse and disgusting horror films, you will fall in love with director Stuart Gordon’s adaptations of HP Lovecraft, in particular Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), and Castle Freak (1995). All three of them feature Jeffrey Combs, one of those amazing underrated working-class actors who exclusively does B-movies and television and frequents the horror and science fiction convention circuit with his Sharpie marker. He’s actually been in eight Lovecraft adaptations, including ones not by Gordon. Anyway, these three films actually share a lot of actors in common, which is fun. I guess Gordon likes to work with his favourites.
Stuart Gordon is an old hippie turned master of the cinematically nefarious. Here’s his bio lifted directly from Wikipedia:
Gordon attended the University of Wisconsin and soon after formed Screw Theater. In March 1968 Gordon’s Screw Theater produced The Game Show at the UW Memorial Union. The goal of the production was to get the audience to leave. To that end the heat was turned to 90, ushers chained the doors behind the audience, the show’s start time delayed and the content of The Game Show made as inane as possible. The audience finally demanded to leave one hour and fifty minutes into the two hour production. In the fall of 1968, he produced a version of Peter Pan that got him and his future wife arrested for obscenity. The story made national headlines until the charges were dropped in November 1968.
After the University of Wisconsin demanded future theatrical productions by Screw Theater be overseen by a University Professor, Gordon cut his University ties to form Broom Street Theater. Its first production, the new translation of the risque Lysistrata, premiered in May 1969. Gordon is married to Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, whom he frequently casts in his movies. Together in 1970, they founded the Chicago Organic Theater Company, for which Gordon also served as artistic director. With the company, he did several plays, such as Warp!, Sexual Perversity In Chicago, Bleacher Bums, ER, Bloody Bess. Warp! was later adapted into a comic book by First Comics. He is also the proud father of three daughters- Suzanna, Jillian, and Margaret.
And here are some goolish trailers for your enjoyment!
First, a hideous pseudo-Frankenstienian tale of science gone wrong:
Secondly, another tale of science gone wrong. I love the insane fluorescent pink and purple color palette of this movie. So 1986!
And last but not least, a classic macabre tale of a gruesome subhuman creature stalking people in a castle:
So much gruesome dismemberment, so many great memories. Dismembories?