Yet more HP

Since I mentioned my my experience with one Lovecraft movie adaptation, here’s another I discovered as I was looking for some background noise for grading: The Color Out of Space. It’s auf Deutsch, with subtitles, and it’s not bad. Slow and creepy, which was perfect for something I didn’t want to be too distracting (that other recent adaptation of the same story with Nicholas Cage? No way. Way too loud and busy).

It’s surprising how many Lovecraft stories you can find that have been turned into movies.

Now…back to the exam.


  1. says

    Probably the best literary depiction of a non corporeal being ever penned. You gotta admit, Lovecraft had a talent for describing things that are truly alien.

  2. chrislawson says

    Glad you liked this version. I thought it was a fantastic little ultra-low-budget film and the transplantation to Germany worked fine. If anything, the low budget forced the filmmakers to concentrate on telling the story well rather than the current Hollywood strategy of overwhelming the audience with expensive action sequences/film technology/SFX.

    It also helps that “Color Out of Space” is one of the few Lovecraft stories that doesn’t drip with racism and/or classism. His horror idea here was to take an ordinary family in an ordinary community and have it disintegrate under the influence of an unknowable force.

  3. PaulBC says

    @2 Literally the 2nd paragraph

    The old folk have gone away, and foreigners do not like to live there. French-Canadians have tried it, Italians have tried it, and the Poles have come and departed. It is not because of anything that can be seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined. The place is not good for the imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night. It must be this which keeps the foreigners away

    Maybe this is not dripping with racism, but it seems gratuitous. I will give this a look when I have a chance. I don’t think I read it before.

  4. strangerinastrangeland says

    If you want Lovecraftian background “noise”, then I can recommend the Japanese band Ningen Isu which sometimes uses Lovecraft’s stories as inspiration. They do have for example a song called “The Colour out of Space”. And because they sing in Japanese, it should not take your mind too far out of the exams. (At least that’s it for me, if I understand the lyrics then I have more difficulties using music/sound as background noise.)

  5. chrislawson says

    @3– I don’t think Lovecraft was capable of putting his bigotry aside completely. But the story doesn’t hinge on it, making it a lot more tolerable than, say, “The Horror at Red Hook” or “Rats in the Walls” which are so painful to read that I can only recommend them to completists or those with an academic interest in HPL.

  6. christoph says

    You’ve probably seen both versions of The Dunwich Horror. Can’t say I cared much for the remake, too revisionist.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    Has anyone else seen the silent version of “The Call of Cthulhu” made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, or their more recent adaptation of “The Whisperer In Darkness?” For that matter, how about their series of “Dark Adventure Radio Theater” audio-dramas that turn Lovecraft’s stories into Old-Timey radio shows?

  8. PaulBC says

    chrislawson@5 I read about a third and will try to finish it. I think I have figured out the secret of “uncanny” writing. To describe something ruins the effect, so instead you have to describe the characters’ inability to describe it.

  9. John Morales says

    PaulBC, sorta.

    It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train—a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and unforming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.

    H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness

  10. Numenaster says

    As John points out, Lovecraft doesn’t simply make the reader do all the work of imagining. He also wrote a bunch of description, making the reader do the work of looking up words like batrachian and squamous.

    Lovecraftian horror has two roots: fear of a powerful other that is not likely to be benevolent, and just fear of otherness. The second lands differently these days now that we recognize it’s also the root of racism, sexism, and most of the other discrimination bases. I have definitely heard this fear expressed to “explain” a person’s genuine unease about transgender people. When Lovecraft relies on it to express the horror of an alien entity we can still go along with him and stay in the story. But when his fear of the other appears in the story as racism, we are jarred out of the story by the premise that we no longer accept.

  11. PaulBC says

    And still the pale phosphorescence glowed in that detestably ancient woodwork. God! how old the house was! Most of it built before 1670, and the gambrel roof not later than 1730.

    The Colour out of Space

    I love the phrase “detestably ancient woodwork.”

  12. PaulBC says Done. This was either missing from the collection where I read The Shadow Over Innsmouth or I returned it to the library before reading.

    Numenaster@11 seems right. From this story alone, I conclude that Lovecraft is afraid of country folk, who are all a little dimwitted though not equally so, of outer space “whar things ain’t like they be here”, of foreigners with “their wild, weird stores of whispered magic”, of colors that aren’t quite right, and of course old houses with their “detestably ancient woodwork.”

    The unknown depths of the sea are likewise horrifying, as are penguins, but these are left for other tales. It does make me wonder what wasn’t frightening to him, though he does a great job of conveying his fear.

    I wonder what my reaction would have been if I had picked this up at a younger age. I would have recognized Poe’s influence, but Poe affects the tone of a detached observer. I have to admit I enjoy the unhinged style and it’s sad that it comes with racist baggage.