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His terrors are eternal, he's a master of cosmic horror, and now he can also liven up a dull trip to the North East: 6 Boring New England Destinations Made Awesome by H.P. Lovecraft
posted by Artw (60 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome, the town that inspired the Dunwich Horror is the home of the Friendly's restaurant chain.

I guess "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" really translates to "Ice cream makes the meal."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:20 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Last spring I stayed in the "third-floor front hall room" from "Cool Air." It's now the Deborah Kerr Room of the Chelsea Pines Inn.
posted by Iridic at 3:26 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a _Dunwich Horror_ movie? With Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee? And it killed Ed Begley?

Must find this.
posted by gurple at 3:26 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Spoiler: You are likely to be disappointed by it.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" really translates to "Ice cream makes the meal."

More like "I screamed, before it makes a meal."
posted by New England Cultist at 3:42 PM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Damn, the writer really has his hate on for Marblehead.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:44 PM on July 15, 2010


Damn, the writer really has his hate on for Marblehead.

He really had his hate on for lots of things.
posted by clarknova at 3:52 PM on July 15, 2010


Art is right. The film version of the Dunwich Horror is disappointing. It's mostly because it's just not great, but there is extra disappointment in that how awesome would a Lovecraft film be if it consisted of Ben from Blue Velvet singing "a candy colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night" to Gidget as the Whateley farmhouse monster looks on approvingly and calls him a smooth motherfucker.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:52 PM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Zalgo!

Ooh, sorry; I meant... "Ni!"
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 3:56 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


He wasn't much fond of Red Hook, either. Too many...um...different sorts.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:56 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, see, too me Lynch is great at the kind of creeping unnease followed by sudden lurches out of the normal into bewildering abysses of obscene horrror that a Lovecraft movie should be all about. Clearly everyone, ever, who has ever done a Lovecraft based movie either disagrees with me on this or lacks Lynch's skill to pull it off.
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got to say Salem isn't boring. Well, it is not boring if you're a Nathaniel Hawthorne fan.

I have a picture somewhere of me standing in front of The Shunned House in Providence. I'm not shunning it in the photo, I'm standing right next to that bad boy. Need to find that picture.
posted by marxchivist at 3:58 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


He wasn't much fond of Red Hook, either.

The Horror at Red Hook at least a good story. He is if anything even more wrong headed...

I saw him on a sleepless night when I was walking desperately to save my soul and my vision. My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had looked for poignant wonder and inspiration in the teeming labyrinths of ancient streets that twist endlessly from forgotten courts and squares and waterfronts to courts and squares and waterfronts equally forgotten, and in the Cyclopean modern towers and pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian under waning moons, I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to master, paralyze, and annihilate me.

The disillusion had been gradual. Coming for the first time upon the town, I had seen it in the sunset from a bridge, majestic above its waters, its incredible peaks and pyramids rising flowerlike and delicate from pools of violet mist to play with the flaming clouds and the first stars of evening. Then it had lighted up window by window above the shimmering tides where lanterns nodded and glided and deep horns bayed weird harmonies, and had itself become a starry firmament of dream, redolent of faery music, and one with the marvels of Carcassonne and Samarcand and El Dorado and all glorious and half-fabulous cities. Shortly afterward I was taken through those antique ways so dear to my fancy-narrow, curving alleys and passages where rows of red Georgian brick blinked with small-paned dormers above pillared doorways that had looked on gilded sedans and paneled coaches - and in the first flush of realization of these long-wished things I thought I had indeed achieved such treasures as would make me in time a poet.

But success and happiness were not to be. Garish daylight showed only squalor and alienage and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing, spreading stone where the moon had hinted of loveliness and elder magic; and the throngs of people that seethed through the flume-like streets were squat, swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them, who could never mean aught to a blue-eyed man of the old folk, with the love of fair green lanes and white New England village steeples in his heart.

So instead of the poems I had hoped for, there came only a shuddering blackness and ineffable loneliness; and I saw at last a fearful truth which no one had ever dared to breathe before - the unwhisperable secret of secrets - the fact that this city of stone and stridor is not a sentient perpetuation of Old New York as London is of Old London and Paris of Old Paris, but that it is in fact quite dead, its sprawling body imperfectly embalmed and infested with queer animate things which have nothing to do with it as it was in life. Upon making this discovery I ceased to sleep comfortably; though something of resigned tranquillity came back as I gradually formed the habit of keeping off the streets by day and venturing abroad only at night, when darkness calls forth what little of the past still hovers wraith-like about, and old white doorways remember the stalwart forms that once passed through them. With this mode of relief I even wrote a few poems, and still refrained from going home to my people lest I seem to crawl back ignobly in defeat.


New York has no soul, man, THE FOREIGNERS KILLED IT!
posted by Artw at 4:03 PM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" really translates to "Ice cream makes the meal."

I never thought about this, but that's a pretty good transcription of the noise produced by a straw hoovering the last of a Friendly's frappe from the bottom of a glass. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
posted by pernoctalian at 4:04 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Art is right. The film version of the Dunwich Horror is disappointing.

As a veteran of several iterations of Portland's Lovecraft Film Festival, I assure you that I'm not expecting it to be good. For some reason I'm a glutton for that particular type of punishment.
posted by gurple at 4:19 PM on July 15, 2010


Someday I'm going to watch that gay Innsmouth movie.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on July 15, 2010


I spent a couple of hours at the Providence Athenaeum. If you're bookish and a fan of Lovecraft and/or Poe, it's worth a look.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:22 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I spent a couple of hours at the Providence Athenaeum. If you're bookish and a fan of Lovecraft and/or Poe, it's worth a look.

You had me at Athenaeum.
posted by New England Cultist at 4:26 PM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Awesome, the town that inspired the Dunwich Horror is the home of the Friendly's restaurant chain.

I fucking KNEW IT.

Friendly's are portals to hell.
posted by The Whelk at 4:29 PM on July 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Clearly everyone, ever, who has ever done a Lovecraft based movie either disagrees with me on this or lacks Lynch's skill to pull it off.

It's the second. Even when discussing good horror movies, its hard to name hardly any that produce feeling of actual horror. (The Shining being an obvious exception). Snippets of Inland Empire are more terrifying than any imagery that I can think of from any horror film, period.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:35 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've done a good amount of research into Lovecraft's trips to Salem since moving here and could do a pretty convincing tour of Salem-as-Arkham at this point, including the best place to spot Brown Jenkins and where HPL's favorite kittens lived.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:45 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Boo. Apparently the church from The Haunter of the Dark got knocked down. Didn't they realise that they;d be unleashing unspeakable terrors upon the world? (Or would have been if the Shining Trapezohedron hadn't already been stolen and either dumped in the bay or sold to nigerian 419 scam artists depending on who you believe.
posted by Artw at 4:54 PM on July 15, 2010


Man, I had that pegged as an io9 article.
posted by Amanojaku at 4:58 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aside from Wilbraham, and not remembering Townsend, but if those towns are boring, which ones are not? I mean, they may be small towns, but at least they're coastal. I usually don't say many nice things about the North Shore, but I sure don't say anything bad about it either.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:12 PM on July 15, 2010


Man, I had that pegged as an io9 article.

I'm actually trying hard to avoid the temptation to post stuff from io9 now, though they do occasionally lead me to something interesting that'll end up as a post. Not that Topless Robot is all that much different, I guess...
posted by Artw at 5:31 PM on July 15, 2010


I grew up in a town next to Wilbraham (East Longmeadow), and can attest to Wilbraham being a nice place to raise a family. Mostly, it's just kind of boring and mild mannered.

Decadent, yes, but only in the sense that the Springfield area's best times (Indian Motorcycles, invention of basketball, the Springfield Armory) are well behind it, and it's been slowly dying economically since I can remember.
posted by hanoixan at 5:31 PM on July 15, 2010


It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen.
posted by invitapriore at 5:47 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Damn, the writer really has his hate on for Marblehead.

Yeah, what the fuck. It just sounds like the author is an angry guy in Boston.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:55 PM on July 15, 2010


IIRC, "The Shining" also referenced Wilbraham -- it's been a while, but something like a mention of Jack having worked trimming the topiary "HOME OF FRIENDLY'S" facing the pike when he initially gets creeped out by the topiary animals at the Overlook.

So... two different horror writers, both mentioning Wilbraham.

Could be a coincidence. Could be.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:38 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's a _Dunwich Horror_ movie? With Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee? And it killed Ed Begley?

Produced by USA Networks! We watched it and can vouch that it is not good (Dean Stockwell as Professor Armitage shoots Lavinia Whateley stone dead, but only after she herself killed Wilbur. However, it is better that others.

Someday I'm going to watch that gay Innsmouth movie.

The movie in question is called "Cthulu." I just saw the title and thought, "Hey, why haven't I heard of this?" not knowing it was a gay Innsmouth movie.

Talk about horror.
posted by JHarris at 6:51 PM on July 15, 2010


I bet you guys didn't know I write like H.P. Lovecraft.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:00 PM on July 15, 2010


So does pretty much everybody, it turns out.
posted by Artw at 7:18 PM on July 15, 2010


Not me, I write like Charles Dickens. But anyway, I wonder sometimes if the internet isn't robbing us of future Lovecrafts. Not that it ain't a price worth paying, it is, but the reason he gets to you after a while is that the man had the psychological profile of an ingrown toenail. The bone-deep fear of miscegenation and reverence toward and imagined Puritan past (while at the same time cowering, Hawthorne-like, at impossible-to-live-up-to-example of it), I dunno if that really could have survived to warp him so soundly if he'd been a modern day kid allowed at a young age to know that there were minds of a similar cast to his alive and in the present, and to speak with them...

The man lived in his head too much, and you spend a bit of time in there with him through the medium his prose and you begin to realize that underneath all the ridiculous purple crushed velvet, the walls are covered in canvas and padded with straw....
posted by Diablevert at 7:43 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, that guy complains about the Providence nightlife? What kind of dweeb can't get his groove on here. You can't leave the house on Thursday through Sunday without coming across a crazy dance party, a trippy concert, or an unspeakable bepolyped horror.
posted by Kattullus at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2010


I actually kind of liked the gay Innsmouth movie. Then again, I watched it in Astoria, OR.
posted by gurple at 9:02 PM on July 15, 2010


Someday I'm going to watch that gay Innsmouth movie.

Spoiler: You are likely to be disappointed by it.

You have been warned of this before...

/alternate geometries and unspeakable dread

posted by mediareport at 9:30 PM on July 15, 2010


If Hammett and Chandler took the mystery story out of the English drawing room and back to the street, then Lovecraft took horror out of the English drawing room and put it into outer space and prehistory.

Ha. That's good.
posted by mediareport at 9:40 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Spoiler: You are likely to be disappointed by it.

You have been warned of this before...


Yeah, I'm still going to end up seeing it eventually though.
posted by Artw at 10:39 PM on July 15, 2010


Produced by USA Networks!

That's the new version I believe gurple was after the 70s version, though Dean Stockwell was in both.
posted by Tenuki at 11:45 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa! That snippet! That face is from Merritt's The Moon Pool.
posted by wobh at 12:51 AM on July 16, 2010


Wait a second... None of these towns seem sufficiently cyclopean. And where are the gambrel roofs?
posted by whir at 3:12 AM on July 16, 2010


Imho, the best Cthulhu Mythos movie that's ever been made is the 2008 film Cthulhu. It's a modernization of the Shadow over Innsmouth, making it about Dagon, not Cthulhu, but they've handled the modernization very well : They've made the Esoteric order of Dagon more reminiscent of evangelical Christianity, plus implied deeper connections with historical Christianity. The protagonist is now a gay man whose conflict with his family is designed around the usual conflict between gays and fundamentalist parents, although now his parents are partially deep ones who want grand children for more nefarious reasons (world domination, raising the elder gods, dagon snacks, whatever deep ones do). The story vaguely plays on various modern stuff like global warming to suggest a darker ending than Lovecraft's original. Very well done flick. Btw, In the Mouth of Madness was a nice movie that was Lovecraftian, but not an adaptation per se.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:16 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"He" is if anything even more wrong headed.

The weird thing about "He," for all it's racist drivel is that, unlike "The Horror at Red Hook," I cannot remember it for more than a few weeks. I read the story and then all the details drain out of my head. It's like the story that is not convenient to recall! And it features, as the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast guys so trenchantly observe, the closest HPL ever got do depicting an anonymous hook-up. With cosplay, no less. And a strange blobby ghost that chops down doors with tomahawks! That story should be much more awesome than it is....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:28 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, that guy complains about the Providence nightlife?

If he is from Boston, he certainly has no business complaining about Providence's roads. At least the roads here don't fall on people....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 AM on July 16, 2010


Someday I'm going to watch that gay Innsmouth movie.

Spoiler: You are likely to be disappointed by it.


I disagree. It's not great -- the acting and writing are kind of average, and they have a lot of trouble with the lighting, but it has some fairly creepy moments, and the character's choices toward the end are fairly true to the source material. Considering some of the clunkers that "Lovecraft adaptions" have produced, this is well above average. It's no The Unnamable II, for Nyarlathotep's sake....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:33 AM on July 16, 2010


And where are the gambrel roofs?

Marblehead. In his letters, HPL is always going on about Marblehead's colonial architecture.

Standard Format for HPL Travel Letter:

Part One - Awkward, Over-Familiar Introduction Filled With Nicknames
Part Two - Account of Travels to Destination; High Praise for local boarding house or YMCA.
Part Three - Description of Visited Place
Part Four - Why Visited Place is not better than Providence.
Part Five - Let Me Tell You About This Cat I Met
Part Six - Snippet of Mythos-inspired Horror
Part Seven - Too Many Damn Foreigners!
Part Eight - I am Quite Smart and also Enjoy Ice Cream
Part Nine - Account of everyone else I am going to send an almost exact copy of this letter to.
Part Ten - Time To catch the bus
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:42 AM on July 16, 2010 [13 favorites]


Faving that comment a million times, Robocop. That's spot on.

Providence is a lovely city, but it is also the only place anyone has openly tried to sell me crack on the streets. (And I used to regularly go to some shady parts of DC in the late 80s/early 90s.) I also found a distinct lack of nightlife, although next time I'll know who to ask.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:32 AM on July 16, 2010


I also found a distinct lack of nightlife, although next time I'll know who to ask.

Come for a meetup!

Stay for the stories of dubious political dealings!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:15 AM on July 16, 2010


The movie in question is called "Cthulu." I just saw the title and thought, "Hey, why haven't I heard of this?" not knowing it was a gay Innsmouth movie.

Soon to be followed by the sequel: At the Mountains of Man-Ass.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:26 AM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would say that Lynch is good at making the ordinary creepy. Lovecraft is all about his paranormal mythos... Cthulhu isn't some metaphor, and he's more than a dream, he's a real-ass big fucking octopus monster.

Plus I can't see Lynch working on a period piece outside of his mythical present day yet always 1950s look that he does best in.

In short: I think we'd have another Dune on our hands.
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 AM on July 16, 2010


Guy Maddin needs to make a silent B&W Lovecraft adaptation already.
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 AM on July 16, 2010


for some reason I thought of Lovecraft when I saw the IMMIGRANTS!OUTSIDERS! title-card from Maddin's Dracula adaptation.
posted by The Whelk at 7:05 AM on July 16, 2010


1) Providence nightlife sucks. It just does. What goes unsaid is that Boston's no great treat, either. They have better bars, we have better restaurants, everyone has to drive to Greatwoods or Worchester to catch interesting national acts. All the big hollywood stars without roots in the area go eat at Legal Seafoods in Warwick, because that's the one Jim Carey took them to*, and to be frank, most big hollywood stars are dumb as stumps.

(*Jim Carrey is not as dumb as a stump. He knows what would happen if he took them someplace he liked in Bristol or Warren - hello, new neighbor! So he takes them to a Legal Seafoods that used to be a TGI Fridays, stuck between an industrial corridor and the airport, and tells them it's the best place in the state. This may or may not be urban legend.)

2) Massachusetts roads suck marginally less, because they spray that rubber gunk everywhere. We just let ours fester until a brief pothole-patching spree in late April, early May, and then ignore the roads again until the following year. Road resurfacing is done at regular planned intervals controlled completely by organized crime.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:51 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The HP Lovecraft Historical Society have done movies (mentioned above, I think), but also radio dramas which are some of the better adaptions of Lovecraft's work that I have encountered.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:56 AM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would say that Lynch is good at making the ordinary creepy. Lovecraft is all about his paranormal mythos... Cthulhu isn't some metaphor, and he's more than a dream, he's a real-ass big fucking octopus monster.

I dunno, I don't think the puppetry for the Guild Steersman or the baby in Eraserhead were bad, and way better than an obviously CGI Cthulhu would be.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:53 PM on July 16, 2010


Plus I can't see Lynch working on a period piece outside of his mythical present day yet always 1950s look that he does best in.

"I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am... a man!"
posted by Artw at 1:06 PM on July 16, 2010


Despite how he wrote, I always picture old HP talking like a regular old New Englander. "Yeah, don't head up by Ipswich. Folks up theah 's wikked queah lookin'. The fried clams ain't bad, tho."
posted by Eideteker at 5:49 AM on July 17, 2010


Hmm. There are a number of Rhode Island accents, the most famous of which are blue collar. (Ey! haWhat's halfways between South Boston annada Bronx? Voe Dyelun! Ain dat a knee-slappah?)

There are at least four of these, taking or leaving various machismo aspects of Italian, Portuguese and Arcadian French.

What is less known is that there are at least four upper-class accents as well, three of them from Aquidneck Island and Jamestown - one sounds like Mr. Howell, with the typical Locust Valley lockjaw common to Boston Brahmins and Long Islanders, and another, older accent sounds like a Maine accent with a pinky extended. The third is a regular RI accent with the "R's" added back in, which is actually a lowbrow sailor's accent, but we middle-class kids in Middletown labored under the illusion we didn't have an accent at all, because a' tha Navrry base bein' heres, so we says our "r" and "th", and we coulds all says "Park tha Car." No accent addall. Nowp.

The fourth is Providence's attempt at a transatlantic accent. Carry Grant, Katherine Hepburn, H.P. Lovecraft. Except Lovecraft undoubtedly whiiined his waaay throuuuugh vowels, Craaaanston-style. The R's are there, at the beginning and the end of words, the "th" sounds are there, too, the word order is carefully and grammatically chosen, and compared to everyone else in the state, it sounds like it's being played at half-speed. The cadence, emphasis and elocution? Row Dyelun! Can't breed out this kinda weird. Upper-class up-state overeducated twits always sound like this. Find any recorded speech of Linc Chaffee, or even Linc Almond, and that's pretty much it. That's how Lovecraft sounded.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


ooh, this sounds interesting: Black wings: tales of lovecraftian horror
posted by Artw at 6:41 AM on July 18, 2010


But unless you're an art student at Providence's prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, the city may be a bore for you.

PISTOLS AT DAWN, SIR.

Good Lord. Say what you will about the "night life" but PVD isn't boring in the least. It's loud and weird as fuck. Which is why I live here.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:03 AM on July 18, 2010


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