Get ready Los Angeles, Cthulhu is coming! On September 16 and 17, The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival returns to the historic Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro for its second year. The festival celebrates the works of famed American science-fiction and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft through screenings of cinematic adaptations of his work by professional and amateur filmmakers from around the world.
H.P. Lovecraft’s work wasn’t widely read during his lifetime but his reputation has grown in the 73 years since his death. He’s now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. Stephen King calls Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale” and credits Lovecraft as the single biggest influence on his writing.
H.P. Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island and raised by his mother . His father became acutely psychotic as a result of contracting syphilis and was admitted into Butler Hospital until his death in 1898. He lived with his mother, two aunts and his maternal grandfather, who sparked his interest in the macabre by spinning his own original tales of Gothic horror. His mother was admitted to Butler Hospital in 1919 for hysteria and depression and died in 1921 after complications from gall bladder surgery. The loss devastated Lovecraft and as Lovecraft grew older he mainly lived a solitary existence, until his marriage to Sonia Greene in 1924, whom he divorced after only a few years of marriage. Following his divorce, he returned to Providence to live with his aunts, where he would reside until his death.
Directed by Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price, The Haunted Palace is the first Lovecraft adaptation to appear on the silver screen. It is based on Lovecraft’s short story “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”
This period would become his most prolific. Almost all of his short stories for pulp publications like Weird Tales Magazine, as well as his longer works like “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” and “At The Mountains of Madness” were produced during his time in Providence. However, despite producing his best work, he suffered from extreme poverty and was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine in 1936. He also suffered from Bright’s disease and malnutrition and lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, 1937 in Providence.
Cast A Deadly Spell is a 1991 HBO original movie that takes place in neo-noir Los Angeles featuring Fred Ward as H.P. Lovecraft, who is hired to investigate a mysterious missing book. Screenwriter Joseph Dougherty will host a Q&A after the film.
Since then, he as influenced horror fiction like no other author, creating the “Cthulhu Mythos” – legends of aliens from other dimensions that pre-date humanity, and the Necronomicon, a fictional book written by the “mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred. These products of Lovecraft’s imagination resonate so deeply with audiences that many incorrectly believe that Lovecraft had based these on actual myths.
La Sombra Prohibidia (The Forbidden Shadow) is a Spanish film and the second part of The Valdemar Legacy directed by Jose Luis Aleman. This is an action film with cameos from Lovecraft and one of his most famous creations, the Great Cthulhu.
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival celebrates the legend of Lovecraft as represented in film and literature. This year’s festival features five full-length films (see the trailers through-out this blog), a short film contest, judged by celebrated filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) and literary discussions and readings by Lovecraft-inspired authors Cody Goodfellow, Jenna Pitman, Denise Dumars, Ted E. Grau, Michael Tice and screenwriter C. Courtney Joyner.
The festival also marks the 80th anniversary of the Warner Grand Theatre and The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival has partnered with the Grand Vision Foundation to preserve and promote the historic theater. It is also the 80th anniversary of the publication of Lovecraft’s story “The Whisperer in Darkness” in Weird Tales Magazine. In celebration, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society is planning a special exhibit of the props, miniatures, set pieces and costumes from their first feature film The Whisperer in Darkness as well as a special screening of the film which will close out the 2011 festival.
The first feature film from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, The Whisperer in Darkness follows folklore professor Albert Wilmarth as he investigates legends of strange creatures in the remote hills of Vermont. Filmed in the style of classic 1930s horror films such as Frankenstein, Dracula and King Kong, The Whisperer in Darkness returns audiences to the golden age of movies for a thrilling adventure of supernatural horror.
All lovers of horror, the macbare and the weird should not miss this stellar film festival celebrating one of the original “outsider” artists. Tickets are still available over here but they’re going fast! Get yours now before they’re gone.