DOWSE guide to the movies                                                                                         

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the net guide for creative minds

  Book Review

DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

The Lurker In The Lobby

Andrew Migliore and John Strysik
Armitage House, 198 pages large paperback US$19.95
review by Octavio Ramos Jr

As pivotal a figure in horror as Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft recently has come into vogue yet again, with a number of mainstream publishers bringing his work to supermarket bookstores. Before this flood of interest, Lovecraft had an underground following, with Arkham House solely responsible for publishing book-length collections of his works and fanzines such as 'Nyclops' and 'Crypt of Cthulhu' producing scholarly evaluations of said work.
 Perhaps the most recent interest in Lovecraft can be attributed to the number of movies either directly influenced or inspired by his body of work. Also playing a role in this resurgence are a new wave of weird fiction (handled mostly by Chaosium, which also created a role-playing game based on the so-called "Cthulhu Mythos") and modern music (bands such as Metallica, The Sins of Thy Beloved, Electric Wizard, and King Diamond) dedicated to this enigmatic man and his imagined abominations. From the beginning of his career publishing in 'Weird Tales', Lovecraft encouraged fellow artists to contribute to his vision, and since then the cycle has yet to stop.
 The Lurker in the Lobby collects a number of films based on or influenced by Lovecraft’s brand of horror, which he calls "terror-based" fiction. In this tome you will find (1) plot synopses and reviews of feature-length films, (2) television shorts, and even (3) short films produced by fledgling and amateur filmmakers. There is a preface by Lovecraft scholar S.T. Johsi and several appendices detailing the art of horror artist Berni (Swamp Thing) Wrightson for an unmade Lovecraft movie based on the novella 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth'. There also is as a plug for the Lovecraft Film Festival, in which amateurs present homemade films to ravenous Lovecraft fans.
 In this book you will find many such titles as Roger Corman’s The Haunted Palace (drawn from the novella 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward'), Daniel Haller’s The Dunwich Horror (from the novella), Ridley Scott’s Alien (inspired by), John Carpenter’s The Fog, The Thing, and In The Mouth Of Madness (all inspired by), and Stuart Gordon’s Reanimator and From Beyond (both taken from short stories). In addition to discussions of these films, the authors have provided new interviews with some of the directors and writers. The interviews address Lovecraft topics, and that in itself makes this a very exciting tome to own.
 The television section also covers Lovecraft-inspired works, from anthology series such as Night Gallery to episodic science fiction series like Star Trek (thanks to Robert Bloch, writer of the book 'Psycho', and one of Lovecraft’s early friends) to animated shows such as The Real Ghostbusters and Superman. The interesting point about this section is that many of Lovecraft’s fans and followers to this day manage to sneak in inferences to the Cthulhu Mythos that enhance viewing for those 'in the know.'
 The final section of this book addresses a number of short-subject films made by fledgling and amateur filmmakers (including both of the book’s authors). Although some are crudely made and the acting is suspect, these films are perhaps the most faithful to the source material. Although I have not viewed these films, I have ordered the tape and am excited about viewing films so closely linked to the master of terror. These short films can be purchased in an omnibus collection (with some of the feature-length ones sold separately).
 Although The Lurker In The Lobby is not comprehensive (it misses films such as X - The Unknown and even Pi), it does represent an excellent overview of Lovecraft’s influence on the cinema. The plot synopses and reviews are on target and the interviews allow fans to see how the Cthulhu Mythos have influenced many of today’s hot horror and science fiction directors and writers.
 For Lovecraft fans this book is an excellent resource for a rarely addressed subject; for those not familiar with Lovecraft, this book will serve as an explanation as to what all the hoopla is about. In either case, this book is required reading.

Octavio Ramos Jr

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