Friday, July 21, 2017

More Like Lurking Schlock, or I Watched Lurking Fear, So You Don’t Have To

Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1984) notwithstanding, H.P. Lovecraft is notoriously difficult to adapt into film, and director C. Courtney Joyner’s Lurking Fear (1994) is a prime example of what can go wrong.  Loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurking Fear (1922), in the sense that the movie keeps some of the same names and settings, and the general plot involving subterranean CHUDS living under a cemetery, the movie struggles to update the story with grave-robbing ex-cons, an action movie sequence to blow up said cemetery and a confusing sub-plot involving some Miami Vice bad guys smuggling drugs across state lines in corpses.
With a shaky script, not-great performances, but not hammy enough to circle around and become memorable, I would say that to describe the special effects and general tone of the movie as Lucio Fulci-esque is charitable, but basically accurate.  The good news is the movie features Jeffrey Combs from Re-Animator (1984), Ashley Laurence from Hellraiser (1987) and Vincent Schiavelli from everything, ranging from guest appearances on The X-Files to Batman Returns (1992) and Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions (1992, and a far better adaptation that you should be watching).  Check out his IMDb page, he was in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984).
I don’t make any secret of my passion for all things Lovecraft, and he remains to this day, unlike say, Stephen King and Clive Barker, an author that I can re-read and still enjoy.  His stories reveal his love of pre-Revolutionary New England, in particular his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, gothic terror and most of all, his accomplished administration of arcane utterances in his eldritch narratives of things unspeakable.  It’s Lovecraft’s language that keeps him relevant, it’s an increasingly and deliberately difficult read for contemporary audiences, and yet it is the primary reason that, along with Shakespeare, Dickens and Poe, he needs to be read.  Reading Lovecraft is like climbing a mountain or running a marathon, it’s not easy but there’s a sense of accomplishment and inspiration when you finish.  Plus you get more details on the unspeakable evils that dwell in the nether edges of imagination where even death is a dream.








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