Graphic Fiction Review: HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE THREE KINGDOMS – unique and mostly enjoyable take on the works of HP Lovecraft

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It’s always interesting comparing an adaptation to source material.  Conventional wisdom favours the original over the adapted work, but of course that isn’t always the case.  When it comes to movies from books, I can say that I prefer Kubrick’s The Shining to King’s, for example, but overall the richer experience is provided by the original.  Cinematic versions can omit or combine characters and situations, sometimes adding new ones for the sake of brevity, and with the right talent, these changes can work for the better – not not always, and not often.  A couple of weeks ago, I watched the animated children’s movie Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, and wrote a fair, but deservedly negative, review.  I won’t recap the failings, but I did promise to seek out the original work.  The movie is an adaptation of the first of three comic book stories, each published in three issues by Canadian publishing company Arcana Studio, and created and written by Bruce Brown, with art by Renzo Podesta (The Frozen Kingdom) and Thomas Boatwright (The Undersea Kingdom, The Kingdom of Madness).

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Movie Review: HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM falls short of appealing to anyone.

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I’m a self-proclaimed disciple of H.P. Lovecraft, I have to say.  Ever since my English teacher introduced me to The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward when I was around 12, I’ve been a fan.  His work is a huge influence on my own writing, even though I’ve never written anything that remotely resembles his work.  I also feel somewhat protective of his writing and his concepts, which most notably include the “Cthulhu Mythos”.  I tend to feel aggrieved when I see how his most famous creation has become assimilated into mass-produced pop culture – Cthulhu plushies and the like (but I think Lovecraft would have secretly loved all of this) – and the name Cthulhu tossed around by people who have most never read a word of Lovecraft’s work.  Even those who have read Lovecraft and create works influenced by him, can barely get past the pastiche-homage of tentacled monsters in dark New England towns.  No, to honour Lovecraft is not rip him off, it’s to understand the context of his work and having done that, create new works of your own that don’t slavishly follow a Cthulhu gameplan.  This explains why I watched Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom.

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Movie Review: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT – classic piece of scifi cinema that holds up well thanks to a dark, Lovecraftian tone.

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No great secret here: I am a fan of the work of HP Lovecraft.  That’s an easy thing to say these days I guess, if you want to get some kind of credibility in the horror genre, but I find it easy to weed out the real fans.  The Fake Ones are all about tossing the name of Cthulhu around, while qualifying his work with a disclaimer that distances themselves from him.  “I really love his stuff, but he was so racist …”.  It’s the kind of surface-level thinking that shows in “Lovecraftian” fiction peppered throughout the Amazon .99c specials.  Throw in The Elder Gods, some tentacles, Cthulhu, and hey presto, a Lovecraft pastiche.  Very few people actually get the work of Lovecraft, they only get the pop culture tropes, then hit a brick wall.  Fewer still moviemakers get it, but there have been some.  There’s an article in me someday that will list my top 5 Lovecraftian movies, but this is a review of 1955’s The Quatermass Xperiment, renamed The Creeping Unknown for the US market, a much more fitting title, I feel.

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