Thanksgiving in Dunwich

I’ve been so busy with my own personal Thanksgiving plans that I lost track of what the town of Dunwich was planning for the holiday.  Last year the COVID lockdown put a damper on this but this year First Selectman Cthulhu and the rest of the Board were determined to get things back to normal.  So, to get the ball rolling Cthulhu invited fifty of the wealthiest and most influential Dunwichians to his house on Monday for a sumptuous dinner.

Of course, there was a misunderstanding.  The guests assumed they were going to eat instead of being eaten but you can hardly fault the First Selectman for that.  He was specific that the menu would come directly from his favorite cookbook, “To Serve Man.”  When I spoke to him, he was still recovering from overindulging but after a couple of barrels of Alka Seltzer he was feeling much better.  He told me his favorite moment was when the guest walked through a doorway and after failing to find any light switches on the walls used their phone lights to determine that they were inside their host’s mouth.  Their screams of terror made the meal all that much more enjoyable.  Oh, that First Selectman, he’s incorrigible!

I read an advertisement in the Dunwich Complainer that a town fair was going to take place on Wednesday.  There would be the usual pie contests and a silent auction for the various crafts that the townspeople would donate.  There were also supposed to be games.  The one that interested me the most was the sack race.  In most towns this is a pretty straight forward affair but the twist that is employed in Dunwich is that Cthulhu alters the geometry of space in the playing field.  This makes moving in a straight line rather tricky.  Three years ago, Josiah Bishop ended up falling through a portal and landed inside of Azathoth’s gallbladder.  He reappeared three weeks later in pretty horrendous condition.  His ears had pretty much melted off and his hair was orange.  When asked what happened he said, “Outside the ordered universe is that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinity—the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.”  A lot of people just assumed Josiah had just stomped off because he’s a sore loser and because Jenkin Brown took the prize and they’ve never gotten along.

But by far the oddest story I’ve heard this week was from Arthur Birdsong.  He was walking through some of the more overgrown areas of the northern hills of Dunwich when he was caught in one of the frequent thunderstorms.  Searching for cover he saw a very dilapidated house and ran to it.  The door wasn’t locked so he let himself in.  Finding a fire in the living room he warmed himself and then looked around at his surroundings.  There was a very old book open on a table and he saw that the book was describing cannibalism among certain tribes in Africa and an illustration showed a butcher’s shop with human body parts for sale.  Arms, legs and organs were grouped on tables.  Suddenly he heard a door open above and a white-haired man in 17th century garb walked down the staircase.  The man saw that Arthur had been interested in the book and he began a long meandering tale, the gist of which was that he had come to the notion that feeding on human flesh would enormously extend the human lifespan.  Just then a drop of blood from the ceiling splashed down in between the two men and Arthur looked up and saw an enormous spot of blood on the ceiling and realized that the horrid old man was a cannibal and had just been butchering of one of his victims upstairs.

At first Arthur was hoping that a bolt of lightning would burn the house and the cannibal in the righteous fire of heaven.  But when that failed to happen, he asked the old man what time was dinner.

Arthur had to admit that human pot pie wasn’t bad.  A little gamey and fatty but no worse than mutton.  And the old fellow even threw in some pretty decent hard cider.  So, they became pretty chummy and after dinner they stayed up late chatting and Arthur discovered that they had both gone to the same prep school.  So, they sang school songs and Arthur invited his new friend over for Thanksgiving dinner.  He had been planning to serve a turkey dinner but in light of his new perspective on health food he decided to invite his least favorite blue-haired feminist wine-auntie over and serve her up instead.  I told Arthur that was splendid and I hoped it became a family tradition.  He sadly informed me that he only had three wine-aunties so it would be a short-lived tradition.  I told him to cheer up.  I have dozens of relatives that need eating.  I told him I’d donate one of mine every Thanksgiving for the foreseeable future.  Well, this brought tears to Arthur’s eyes and he declared it a “Thanksgiving Miracle.”  I said, “Nonsense, it is always better to give than to receive.”

So, you can see we here in Dunwich have a lot to be thankful for; friends, family and meat tenderizer.  Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving allows you to enjoy your family as much as we intend to enjoy (parts of) ours.

Local Election Results in Dunwich

Living as I do in the mythical New England town of Dunwich, election results take a little longer than they do in the outside world.  What with eruptions of elder gods and eldritch horror of nonspecific origin popping up incessantly it takes the election committee quite a lot of time to count the white and black pebbles that we use for voting purposes.  I mean when they’re distracted, they lose count and have to start all over.  And then there are the disqualifications.  If one of the candidates is discovered to have webbed fingers or toes or gills during the mandatory examination, then everything has to stop while the unfortunate individual is burned at the stake or crushed under a door stacked with large smooth stones.  Lately they’ve switched completely to door crushing because of the greenhouse gases emitted by the stake burning procedure.  Time marches on.  Of course, the runner-up is glad, as long as he isn’t similarly non-conforming.

Well, the point is we finally have our results and they are pleasing.  The stupid party was resoundingly re-elected and the evil party was gratifyingly defeated.  I performed an exorcism rite complete with incantations from the Necronomicon (or was it Comic-Con?) and rendered all attacks by the power of darkness null and void (in other words I paid up my property taxes).  And now I can expect to enjoy another two years of quiet, efficient, demonic public service by the good people of the stupid party as they do their best to hold the powers of the evil party at bay.

I intend to continue attending the local Republican Party meeting and find out if I can get involved in some less painful volunteer services.  I’d like to work with the election committee and find out how the sausages get made.  And in fact, I’d also like to find out what other functions I can help out around town.  I may be trapped here in Dunwich for a few years so I might as well make the best of it.

Who knows, maybe I’ll become an adjunct lecturer at Miskatonic University in advanced perpetual motion engineering.  We all have to do our best to save the planet.  After all, both Greta Thunberg and Cthulhu are depending on us.

Color Out of Space (2019) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Review

Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have decided to cross link on our reviews for this movie.  We both thought this movie was awful but we thought that readers should see nuanced differences.  Actually what you’ll see is our two styles.  Tyler is a witty and intelligent writer and I like to rant.  So here’s the link to his review and below is mine.

This is a cinematic version of Lovecraft’s story about a meteor that lands in a rural Massachusetts farmyard and infects the soil and the water with an entity that subtly alters the plants and animals and then sucks the vitality and finally the life out of every living thing around it before shooting back into space leaving a dead landscape behind.  But let us say the movie takes liberties with this plot.

How do I hate this movie?  Let me count the ways.

First off, I despised all the characters in this story.  I even despised the seven-year-old who was the youngest kid in the family.  They are stereotypical yuppie transplants to the countryside and all of them have extremely annoying personalities.  The father is Nicholas Cage and he spends his time milking alpacas and raising heirloom tomatoes.  The mother is a financial advisor who has neglected her kids to the point that older son is a useless pothead, the daughter is a bitter Wiccan wannabe and the younger son appears to be a doofus.  Tommy Chong is the forest dwelling pot grower who supplies the son with his weed and also seems to be acquainted with alien invasions.  Then there is the hydrologist who is taking water samples for a new reservoir that will be covering the property that Nick Cage’s family currently inhabits.  He walks around warning everyone about the dangers of meteorites and contaminated water but achieves nothing other than somehow surviving the apocalypse.

Next is the plot.  In the original Lovecraft story, the baleful influence of the entity slightly modifies the appearance of plants and animals but its most powerful effect is the sapping of the life force and eventually even the structural integrity of organic materials.  By the end of the book the whole farm where the meteor lands, the house, the trees, the animals and people, the wagons and the fences crumble to dust.  Only stone and metal remain.

In this version of the story the entity is able to fuse groups of animals together into hideous many-headed monsters.  It can disable all communication devices and even alter time, making days and nights shorter as needed.  So, they’ve revved up the monster’s power quite a bit.  But the use they put this to is horrendous.  In one scene the mother and the seven-year-old kid are walking in the dark near the barn when the creature zaps the both of them with its potent “light.”  Next, we see that the mother and the little boy have been fused together.  His head is attached to her shoulder, their torsos are fused and both of them are writhing in agony.  And the older son characterizes what’s happening to them as the younger son being re-absorbed into the mother’s body.  Even the thought is horrifying to consider.  And later on, the fused creature starts taking on a preying mantis like shape and Nick Cage’s character shoots both of them in the head to end this nightmare.  Okay sure, this is a horror movie and it’s no more disgusting than the scenes in John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” but he didn’t use a mother and a little boy as the victims of this abomination.  To my mind this is awful.

Finally, the acting.  The only cast members I’ve heard of are Nick Cage and Tommy Chong.  I’m guessing the rest of the cast is unknown and they should stay that way.  They were awful and so were the two better known actors.  The script was awful.  The plot was tedious and the resolution seemed pointless and annoying.  I will say some of the special effects were interesting looking and well done.  But not the fused animals and people.  Those were hideous and depressing.

I would avoid this movie.  Nick Cage has descended indeed from the time when he was a pretty good actor.  He should be ashamed that he was in this crap.   Seeing this movie has ruined a perfectly good day out of my life.  Not recommended.

10JUN2021 – OCF Update

Today is a disrupted day due to errands and visits.  But also I have to watch the Nick Cage movie of the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Color Out of Space.”  Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have agreed to each watch this stinkeroo and then review it to the best of our abilities.  He has watched it and assures me it’s awful.  So today I will bite the bullet and watch it before Camera Girl gets back from weekly shopping.  I am dreading the experience already.  The things I do for my art.

Nicholas Cage – The Man, the Myth, the Legend – Giving Shatner a Run for his Money

It has been brought to my attention that a film version of “The Color of Space,” one of the only good H.P. Lovecraft stories, was made last year and it starred Nick Cage.  I vowed I would watch, no matter how bad.  And to get my self in the mood to appreciate this cinematic experience, I watched a very funny SNL skit from back in 2012 when the show was only mostly bad.

Here’s the trailer for this magnum opus.  How could it go wrong?

The Dunwich Horror (1970) – A Science Fiction and Fantasy Move Review

(War Pig loves really bad sf&f movies.  This one’s for you War Pig.)

This movie is so monumentally bad that I feel compelled to dissect its awfulness so that we can learn something from it.  First of all, look at the date.  1970 is something of a low water mark in American cinema.  Now granted this was produced by American International Pictures and they only ever made really cheap and schlocky movies.  But that sets the stage for how this movie became what it was.  Next, the story is an old H.P. Lovecraft story so the cost of buying the movie rights must have been pretty close to zero.

Next take a look at the actors.  Sam Jaffe and Ed Begley were actual actors at one time but their careers were coming to an end and they probably really needed the money.  Dean Stockwell was a young guy whose career had begun as a child actor in the big studio system but with that system now a thing of the past he would earn his daily bread working in schlock and it suited him.  Sandra Dee was a product of the post war teen movies of the late fifties and early sixties.  She had played all the Gidget and Tammy parts and was now too old to be the girl next door.  This was what was next on her ride to oblivion.  It’s also funny to see that before she got some big screen parts in movies like the Godfather and Rocky, Talia Shire had a small role in this stinker.  So, there are some actual actors in this movie.  But what can they do with this thing?

And finally, what is the plot?  Well, in the original Lovecraft story Wilbur Whateley, played by Dean Stockwell, and his monstrous twin are the product of some kind of bizarre ritualistic impregnation of their mother by one of the Great Old Ones, Yog-Sothoth.  The book chronicles the attempt by Wilbur to use the Necronomicon to allow Yog-Sothoth to break through from his own dimension and conquer Earth and eat all the humans for lunch.

But the geniuses at American International Pictures decided that what Wilbur wanted was to go for another generation of Yog-Sothoth baby making and Sandra Dee would be the baby mama.  The monster brother is still in the plot but it seems like a sort of dangling appendage that nobody knows what to do with.

Ed Begley is Dr. Henry Armitage, a university professor who has a copy of the Necronomicon and is Sandra Dee’s boss.  He will try to save her life and foil Whateley’s diabolical plan.  And to round out the cast Sam Jaffe is “Old Whateley,” Wilbur’s grandfather who seems to have inexplicably changed his mind about being an evil servant of the Great Old Ones and now just runs around warning everyone about how dangerous everything is.  Comically they’ve painted thick black eyebrows on his face.  He sort of looks like Groucho Marx in that sense.

Well, before you know it Wilbur convinces Sandra Dee to come to his groovy farmhouse and drink some tea and after he pulls the distributor cap off her car’s motor, she has to spend the night.  She has dreams that look like they were filmed with my kid brother’s super 8 movie camera.  Semi-naked hippies who look like rejects from the Manson family hopped up on hair tonic and looking for love chase her around.  It’s quite ridiculous.  When she wakes up, she shares these dreams with Wilbur and we can see that it’s all having the hoped-for result.  She’s looking for some Yog-Sothoth action.  So, Wilbur brings her up to an oceanside cliff with an altar where she will wear some kind of poncho-like garment that allows the cameraman to show us the side of her leg and butt for what seems like hours.  And Wilbur spreads her legs apart and props the Necronomicon against her groin while he reads passages to Yog-Sothoth.

At some point Wilbur’s brother breaks out of his room and eats about five people including Talia Shire.  We never really get a good look at him.  He’s got tentacles and eyes and I don’t know what else.  He makes guttural noises and he has problems with his adenoids for sure.

Finally, Ed Begley shows up at the cliff and he and Wilbur posture and spout meaningless syllables at each other.  Begley’s babbling proves to be the stronger and Wilbur’s head bursts into flames and he jumps off the cliff.  We briefly see what might be Yog-Sothoth appear as a cartoon character suspended over Sandra Dee’s groin before he disappears.  Then Ed Begley helps her off the altar and the movie ends but as it ends, we see an image of a fetus near Sandra Dee’s belly.  Yog-Sothoth scored again!

So, there it is.  It’s embarrassing to admit I even made it to the end of this awful waste of time.  As far as I know Talia Shire is the only living victim of this terrible thing.  I imagine it still haunts her.  Maybe her rich brother Francis Ford Coppola can buy the rights to the movie and destroy every copy so their family’s shame can end.  I’ve never been a big fan of Lovecraft’s prose.  His imagination was fertile and the images he came up with were vivid.  But his prose style was lackluster.  But even he deserves better than this.  The Dunwich Horror was one of his better stories.  Maybe someday someone will do a decent job of making a movie of it.  This was not that movie.

The Compound Attacked by One of the Great Old Ones

Last night abysmal horror stalked the home base.  A Lovecraftian abomination was on the move unleashing its mind shattering power on my corner of New England.  It was Cthulhu or maybe one of the Deep Ones.  The horror, the horror.

Just see the damage caused by its irresistible strength and titanic weight.  Behold!

 

UPDATE!!!!

We cowered in fear during the night time attack.  Finally this morning I gathered my shattered sanity and my courage and I ventured out to assess the damage.

I found this massive print

And finally I found this titanic creature lurking in the near by swamp.

Do not be fooled.  Those green growths are actually massive pine trees that the monster crushed with it’s cyclopean bulk.  What you are seeing is Ralsa Whateley, the hybrid spawn of a human woman and one of the batrachian Deep Ones.  Grown tremendously large from ingesting all of Camera Girl’s bird seed he now rests before once again attacking humanity with the ferocity only capable by one of the Great Old Ones.

 

My Annual Halloween Celebration

Lichen on Monument
The Raven is a Wicked Bird

 

Halloween was always one of my favorite holidays as a kid and in my heart of hearts I haven’t really progressed far from that.  I guess I’m not a progressive.  So here is the advantage to being in business for more than a year.  The calendar allows you to recycle stuff you did last year.  I did movie reviews of the Universal Classic Monster Movies and a few other related films last year and I’ll recycle them around for the Halloween season.  And I’ll add some additional films to avoid the label of laziness.  I’ll also try to find some other Halloween content.  I guess Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is sort of the quintessential American story for this time of year.  But there are all kinds of other stuff out there from Poe to (yikes) Lovecraft to even that lefty doofus Stephen King.  So stay tuned and I’ll start cycling those in.

 

 

Camera Girl is Buying Goats

I think it is a sign of the coming apocalypse that suburban residents think they need to have farm animals on their property.  And women are entirely impractical about pets.

Now, coming from an individual who in the past has kept four of the six giant snake species in a Brooklyn apartment this might sound slightly self-serving and hypocritical.  In fact, it probably is.  But everybody always says a boy needs his hobbies.  No one ever says a girl needs her hobbies.  QED.

But I maintain that I am a reformed former animal horder.  For this reason, I feel that I have the right to pronounce judgement against this misguided practice.

Going through the various animal keeping proclivities of our marriage, it is obvious that eventually we would branch out from indoor menageries and end up in the barnyard.  And after the fiasco of the Great Quail Fail of 2017 (as it came to be known) it was inevitable that Camera Girl would want revenge.  But my actual problem with the new animal introduction is practical.  The winters in New England can be brutally cold and snow filled.  It occurs to me that during some prodigious snow fall when the goat enclosure is engulfed by some absurd 50” snow fall that I will be called upon at some god-awful hour to go out and clear a space for the goats to allow them to get at their food and water.  And based on my memory of Lovecraft’s description of Shub-Niggurath, (“The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”), I believe there is a better than even chance that the critters will take advantage of my proximity and vulnerability to stage some kind of satanic attack upon my person.

Alright, I don’t really think it will be satanic.  But goats are jerks and they will probably butt me with their stupid horns and that will probably really hurt.  So, there’s that.  Plus, I’ll have to clean out their pen because let’s face it, men always get stuck with the crappy jobs.  So that’s why I hate the goats.  But Camera Girl does feed me and stuff so I guess it’s still a good deal.  I guess.

But have you ever looked at goats.  They’ve got those weird eyes that are really weird and maybe they are satanic.  And they’re gonna eat everything they can get their teeth into so they’ll turn their pen into the Plain of Gorgorath where nothing can survive.  Plus, I’ll bet the pen will be under constant assault by the local coyote pack and they’ll be howling every night and I’ll probably have to defend the stupid goats as if I actually wanted them to survive.  It’ll be like that scene in Whisperer in the Darkness where the old guy is defending his compound from the giant fungus lobsters with his rifle and german shepherds.  Except that german shepherds are actually useful and goats aren’t.  And I don’t have a rifle.  And coyotes aren’t lobsters.  But it was in New England.

I feel that the only hope is if biological science makes rapid advances in genetic engineering.  If genetically modified goats that only grow to the size of crickets could be commercially available then my problem would be solved.  I could set up a pen for them in the kitchen junk drawer and they would be a very small problem to take care of.  So that’s what I’m banking on at this point.  The goats are supposed to arrive a week from Saturday so there’s still time.  I know it’s a long shot but my luck’s got to change some day.  Maybe this will be it.  So, come on you genetic researchers, stop being so selfish and put aside all this cancer jazz for a minute, and solve a really urgent need, the world’s cricket-sized goat shortage.  What color ribbon is still available for the cause?

Whispers from The Abyss – An Anthology of H. P. Lovecraft Inspired Short Stories –  Edited by Kat Rocha – A Horror Book Review – Part 3 – Conclusion

Whispers from The Abyss – Part 2

 

So, I’ll sum it all up.

Are you an H. P. Lovecraft fan?  Then for you, “Whispers from the Abyss” is a no-brainer.  It’s a cornucopia of Lovecraftian themes and inhuman doom.  You are bound to enjoy the majority of the stories and probably find some writers whose work you’ll want to check out.  And for those of you who buy books made of paper instead of electrons, I’ll say that the paperback book was a high-quality item with very nice cover art and excellent readability.

For you Lovecraft agnostics it’s a judgement call.  There is a mixture of styles and as a fellow agnostic I was happy to find a few stories that I thought were very good.  And there were a number that didn’t work for me.  And that make sense.  Without the Lovecraft bias the authors are fighting an uphill battle to get my sympathy.  And I would say there is a generational thing going on.  Any time the author includes even the smallest left-wing jibe, whether it’s an anti-religion or anti-male remark it jars me right out of the story.  So, I’m probably not the target audience for several of these stories.  So that needs to be taken into consideration if you have similar inhibitions.  But if not then you’ll probably be fine with the material in all these tales.

I’ll close by saying if you’re a horror fan and especially if you’re a Lovecraft fan I think you’ll enjoy this book.