When Opie Met H.P. Lovecraft

hp-lovecraftEveryone’s favorite anti-Semitic, racist, classist “weird fiction” author could be meeting everyone’s favorite director of middlebrow entertainment. Variety reports that Imagine and Universal have snapped up the rights to The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft, with an eye to Ron Howard both producing and directing.

The title is a graphic novel based on Lovecraft’s life by commercial directors Mac Carter and Jeff Blitz. The writer himself battles the creatures of his Cthulhu Mythos when they are unleashed in the world. Carter will write the script. Variety says that Universal snapped up the Lovecraft property, believing the author would make a good fit with their monster franchises like Dracula, The Mummy and the Wolf Man (who gets a film of his own in November.) And you know what that means …

van-helsing

Nothing wrong with the author as hero, and Strange Adventures apparently deals with issues like the mental illness which afflicted Lovecraft’s mom and dad. But will it deal with his intolerance? A spell living in Red Hook, Brooklyn reinforced the New Englander’s hatred of the lower classes and non-whites (which found expression in his story “The Horror of Red Hook”). Throughout Lovecraft’s work, he frequently casts “ethnic types” as threats to civilization. In one virulent letter, he wrote, “The so-called Jews of today are either Carthaginians or squat Mongoloids from Central Asia, & the so-called Christians are healthy Aryan pagans who have adopted the external forms of a faith whose original flabbiness would disgust them.” In his “Re-animator” story, one African-American is described as “gorilla-like.” To ignore this would be like making a movie about Edgar Allan Poe where the strongest thing he drinks is tea.

Of course, Lovecraft is remembered less as a horrid little man and more as one of science fiction’s titans. Roger Corman brought The Dunwich Horrorto the screen, and the ’80s sex ‘n’ goo exploitationers Reanimator and From Beyond had their origins in his tales. Reanimator director Stuart Gordon is hoping to make The Thing on the Doorstep and Guillermo del Toro may do At the Mountains of Madness once he gets out of Hobbit-land.

His fan club includes Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and Michel Houellebecq, who described his stories as “an open slice of howling fear.” Reviewing his Tales, published in the Library of America series, Daniel Handler was more guarded in his assessment:

Just as Oscar Wilde noted that ”one must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing,” it’s tough to venture into a Lovecraft story with a straight face, let alone with chattering teeth. Lovecraft’s stories are so overwrought that they make Jules Verne look like a homebody and Edgar Allan Poe a well-adjusted realist; he pushes at the already extreme boundaries of the Gothic, horror and science fiction genres — not so much in the way that John Ashbery pushes at the boundaries of poetic form but more as Spinal Tap pushes at the boundaries of heavy metal: by turning the volume up to 11.

Will Howard wake up one morning and laugh his head off at the prospect of bringing the real Lovecraft to the screen? Time will tell. Let us know whether the dementia of Lovecraft the man should be unleashed upon the world.

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One Response to “When Opie Met H.P. Lovecraft”

  1. The Slate: Tobey Starts His Engine, Dazeder & Confuseder « SquallyShowers Says:

    […] getting H.P. Lovecraft battling monsters and maybe “primal grovellers.” Why not Harry Houdini? Basis for the Summit Entertainment film is a fanciful bio which claims the […]

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