Saturday, July 2, 2016


So, thanks to a friend loaning me the dvd (thanks Stan), I've now had a chance to watch the animated film adaptation of THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKOWN KADATH, which I think among the very best of Lovecraft's stories (second only by his related short story "The Strange High House in the Mist"). This film is based on a graphic novel I've not read, having been put off by the artist's bizarre choice to draw his main character as a pillow-headed doughboy. This is probably symbolic of something, like the protagonist being a everyman figure, but whatever its rationale that aspect of the work totally flopped for me. Unfortunately, it's a feature of the graphic novel they carry over into the film, to its detriment. That aside, I rather like the art style. And I spotted a few things they'd worked into the background in various scene that I wholly approved of.

First, when Randalph Carter takes passage on a boat, we catch a brief glimpse of the boat's sails, which exactly match the striking design by S. H. Sime in his original illustration for The Bird of the River in the 1910 tale "Idle Days on the Yann".

Second, we later catch a glimpse of The Strange High House, although no explanation is given of what it is or why it shd be significant. Just a little reward, I guess, for those familiar with the original who are paying attention.

Third, when Randalph Carter wakes up in his Boston bedroom, we see a Pickman painting on his wall and the titles of several books on a shelf: GREEK M[YTH], SLEEP AND WAK[E? ING?], and finally my favorite: ASTRAL PROJ[ECTION] TO ARCTURU[S] by 'LINDSAY' -- this being an imaginary book that correlates to David Lindsay's weird masterpiece A VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS [1920]

In other Cthulhu news, I've now read the new Jacqueline Baker novel THE BROKEN HOURS, which continues the trend of using Lovecraft as a character in a novel. Her effort is much more literary than the other HPL-as-character novels I've read, which try to cast HPL as an action hero. Her depiction of a weird and reclusive figure is far superior, as is her prose, to most such efforts. Unfortunately, her book is marred by two problems.

First, that it pretty much lacks anything resembling a plot. Once Baker has gotten our point-of-view character to Lovecraft's house, the rest of the book cd be summed up as 'spooky things happen'. Then some more. Then some more. Second, the Big Reveal at the end is massively underwhelming. I won't give it away here, but for me the arrival's not worth the journey. Too bad, given that Baker writes quite well.

And just so the British don't feel left out, today I noticed a reference to Great Cthulhu in a piece discussing the current EU-Exit crisis, when someone writing about all the turmoil over who will be England's next prime minister felt moved to say

"It would not be especially outrageous, for instance, to learn that Cthulhu has chucked his tentacles into the Tory contest."

For those who want context, here's the piece -- but be warned that the columnist is intemperate both in content and expression, and uses language that wdn't be allowed in a U. S. newspaper.

--John R.

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