Thursday, September 08, 2011

Spreadin' the Lovecraft (a short blog because I forgot last month's entry)

OH MY GOD!

Go read "At the Mountains of Madness"! 

Go do it.

NOW.

Stop reading my blog and go go find a copy!! I'll wait for you, I promise. The blog's not going anywhere without you.











(....Not a short read, is it? Sorry.)











...You back now? Read it? Excellent.

***The following assumes you actually read it and some SPOILERS are included!***

Now wouldn't that make a great movie? Seriously! THIS is the kind of writing that needs to be made into films, its length and style lend itself so well!

I envision it kind of like how they did A Series of Unfortunate Events (think what you will about the movie, I don't care whether or not you liked it, I'm borrowing the framing method); with the narrator periodically taking the audience back to just himself writing his account of what happened and occasionally voicing over the action. And think of the fun that could be had with the art style of the deserted city and all the cool CG stuff the latter half of the story would entail. THAT is where big-budget dollars should be going in the movie industry.

Of course someone will find a way to mess it up, obviously. (Yeah, I'm calling you out, HOLLYWOOD) Shoe-horning in a love interest I'm sure, under the excuse of making the otherwise all-male cast "more diverse." Or turning the encounter in the ruined city at the end into some kind of fight scene- or the one at the camp (which I'd allow to a point, so long as the Old Ones aren't seen too clearly and it's not the focus of the movie; what happens at the camp is supposed to remain a mystery until the end) into some gore-fest trying to keep in stride with modern horror standards.

I think that might be what appeals to me most about Lovecraft's work. It's not gross. Or, not gross in the blood-and-guts kind of gross that passes for "horror" in films. (Admittedly "The Color Out of Space" was kind of gross in its own way.) It's subtle and cerebral, it's the kind of horror that makes you want to go "eeeeeeehhhhhh" and whine if you're not reading it in a public place, and grimace in fear and sorrow if you are.

It's that kind of "what if" horror that still stands up today despite the technology gap that can kill other kinds of stories. What if Pluto really IS Yuggoth? We have no way of saying it's NOT. What if Leng and its ruined city really ARE down there somewhere in Antarctica? Who's to say we just haven't found them yet? What about R'Lyeh and C'thulhu? We don't know EVERYTHING about the ocean floor, now do we?

I'm not saying that "At the Mountains of Madness" needs a reboot or modernizing treatment in film; I think keeping to the original era would be much better as would keeping close to the original plot. I'm saying that as a film IT CAN BE DONE, and if done carefully it probably SHOULD be done. (Copyright issues aside, of course, I'm sure someone has a tight hold on the rights to Lovecraft's work). Give the story to one of two kinds of people: either a young unknown or upcoming director who's passionate about the material and just needs the budget to make it work, or an experienced director (Spielberg for example, though maybe not him specifically) who knows how to make suspense and/or era pieces work. And DON'T hire the best-known young faces for the major parts. This movie calls for aged men of science; there are only a few college students mentioned by name and only one who lasts to the end of the story, so don't fall into the trap of say, having Keanu Reeves play Danforth (or whoever, I'm not up on my cinema trivia but you get the idea, it needs people of DISTINCTION, not youth-appeal).

Now I know it's a gamble from the studio's point of view. I know it probably has too much niche-appeal at first glance but just think on it; how many people are now familiar with Lord of the Rings because of Peter Jackson's films? I tell you it's probably far more than BEFORE the trilogy was released. As books, LOTR also arguably held a lot of niche-appeal (and let's face it, they're not an easy read), but by having them effectively abridged into films which (again, say what you will) were pretty damn good in my opinion, they reached a whole group of people who would probably never had read them. It's not the complete story, but it's a lot more than you'd get out of forcing someone to try and read them. I think the same thing could happen with Lovecraft's work; film one or two effectively, and the audience of readers expands as people want to see more of that kind of cosmic horror.

Just my thoughts. I hope you enjoyed your recommended read. And if you didn't; I say "to each their own."