Cthulhu, 2007. [Content warning for one female-on-male rape scene.]
Hey you. Yes, you. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Man. I really need more modern queer adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft’s seminal work The Shadow Over Innsmouth in my life!”
Well, my friend! Do I have a film for you! All of it, in fact, uploaded by the director to YouTube so you can watch the whole thing for free!
I found out about this film care of hbomberguy’s (you know, he’s the “Sherlock Sucks and Here’s Why” dude) video essay on how to adapt H.P. Lovecraft for modern audiences. That essay is also 100% worth watching, possibly before seeing Cthulhu itself, because it sets up expectations for the film (short version: it’s not a big loud gory horror, or a perfect film, and if you go in expecting either you’ll hate it).
hbomberguy’s essay tries to explore the question of just why so many people from marginalized identities seem to be fans of Lovecraft’s work, particularly when the man himself was such a viciously bigoted dipshit. As both a) a huge Lovecraft/mythos fan, and b) a queer woman and a member of an ethnic group Lovecraft… wasn’t particularly into (i.e. the slavs), the essay really resonated with me. Hence wanting to check out the film that inspired it. As it turned out, I… ended up really enjoying Cthulhu. It’s by no means a perfect film, but it’s a queer Lovecraftian psychological horror/mystery which is, like, 100% My Bag Baby. I know that it’s also 100% the bags of a bunch of you people (I see you, friends), hence… if you haven’t seen this film, definitely put aside two and a half hours (for the film and the essay) to check it out.
The complaints about Lovecraft and the World Fantasy Award aren’t about “diminish[ing] him for being male and Caucasian.” It’s about wanting something other than the bulging decapitated head of an over-the-top racist to embody one of the highest honors in our genre.
–Jim C. Hines on the World Fantasy Award.
[Content warning for racial slurs, below and at the link.]
This just in: Lovecraft. Still super-racist. If you’re not convinced, Hines’ post has an excerpt from one of Lovecraft’s poems, called “On the Creation of Niggers”.
Yes. That’s the title of the poem. H.P. Lovecraft, father of the Cthulhu Mythos, wrote a poem that contains the lines, “A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure, / Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.”
Literally. That is a thing he wrote.
No apologia, no “oh, it was a different time!”, nothing. H.P. Lovecraft was a vile racist. End of story.
What Darwin did was to point out that death, both of the individual and the species was the normal part of nature. This was and still is a major change to how we see ourselves and the world around us. Because for our very brief life-spans things don’t seem to change that much, it can be hard to appreciate just how much change does occur on a wider time-scale. We still sort of don’t fully get it. We talk of environmental protection to ‘save the planet’ when the planet will be fine either way. It’s our (and other living species’) ability to live on the planet that is under threat from our polluting ways.
–Speaking of lists, here’s three things the works of HP Lovecraft teach us about biology.
And if Widdershins was good? Then Threshold is even better.
Don’t trust any as have been to the woods.
–Local legend (loc. 919).
I was about fifteen when I discovered H.P. Lovecraft.
I came to the mythos in a roundabout way, via a large, slim book in our local genre bookstore. The book was S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Creatures of the Dreamlands, a narrative-only supplement for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. Always a big fan of “monster manual” type things, I remember diligently spending weeks thumbing through the shop’s copy until I’d managed to save up enough to buy it for my own.
(The lady at the counter ended up giving me a discount, due to the slightly tatty pages. I didn’t tell her I’d been the one responsible for their dishevelled state. Oops. Bad Alis.)
A few years later, I’d be devouring down every single story Lovecraft ever wrote, awash in thoughts of cults and signs and shambling horrors from beyond the stars. To this day, “Lovecraftness” is one of the Key Indicators that will make me fall in love with a work: from his influence on Stephen King, to the Secret World and Welcome to Night Vale. If it smells even a bit like Lovecraft, chances are, I’m all over it.
It was actually thanks to the latter podcast that I first heard of Jordan L. Hawk‘s Whyborne & Griffin series. I’ve run across Jordan a few times in other contexts, and she’s a lovely lady who’s done me some solids in the past. I knew she’d started writing m/m romance, but I’d been hugely lax in the reading department until the other day, when I decided to get off my ass and pick up Widdershins on my Kindle.
Holy hell am I glad I did! (more…)