So Guillermo Del Toro is going to do a film version of H. P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. There’s been a steady stream of awful Lovecraft adaptations, but this will be the biggest version yet. I’ve long been a fan of HPL, and even own a Miskatonic University Antarctic Expedition hoodie, courtesy of the otakus at the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
I wrote them a thank-you note when I received it:
Thank you for the Miskatonic University sweatshirt. My grandfather was actually on that expedition in 1930, although he never spoke of it. I remember being at the dinner table once as a child when the subject came up. His face darkened and he changed the subject. I gather that the expedition was a failure, although there seem to be no accounts of it except for a rather fantastic story by a writer in Providence.
My grandfather was a student at the time, and although he did graduate and actually joined the geology faculty at MU, his later career was not happy. He was one of the planners of the International Geophysical Year in 1957, and returned to Antarctica then. There was a scandal involving a stolen aircraft and missing explosives. All he would say was “I had to seal it up. Some things are not meant to be known.” That was a shocking attitude for a scientist, and they forced him into early retirement. I still remember him fondly, although he used to make strange carvings for us children, and had a horror of caves and basements. He lived in a cottage by the sea in Innsmouth, and was unfortunately lost there in 1961 in a great storm. The house was swept away, leaving only an odd, shining track leading down to the water.
Now that Antarctica is being fully explored, I hope that the early work by MU will at last be recognized. I’m an alum myself (Go Squids!) and know that it can only bring credit to my alma mater. Your sweatshirt will let me show that old MU spirit.
To which they responded:
Thanks for sharing your grandfather’s furtive mumblings. There are so few who were witnesses and fewer still capable of rational speech.
It is in fact a high-quality sweatshirt, and is actually made in L.A..
And speaking of the HLPHS, there’s a trailer out now for their next production, “The Whisperer in the Darkness”:
Looks promising! It’s astounding what amateurs (well, semi-pros) can do these days. Their version of “The Call of Cthuhlu” is one of the best HPL adaptations ever, up there with “Reanimator”.
The other great keeper of the Lovecraft flame is Charlie Stross, whose Laundry series (basically MI-6 vs the Elder Gods) has been great fun. The latest one is “The Fuller Memorandum”, and finally answers the question about what the appeal of the Great Ones is to all these earth-bound cultists. Here they are risking major jail time with all these sacrifices, and having to dress up in all these ridiculous outfits, and for what? Well, they’ve seen the future, and they know they want to be on the winning side… Stross also wrote the best Lovecraft pastiche ever, “A Colder War”, which manages to bring HPL up to date using a lot of actual Cold War efforts, like Project Pluto. Your tax dollars actually paid for madness like this.
So anyway, there are still movies and novels being written based on HPL’s work. That’s more than one can say for his much more popular contemporaries, Edmond Hamilton and E. E. Smith. Something about his horror of immense gulfs of space and time still resonates when their wonder at the same infinities does not.