BOOK REVIEWS (2013) – Ian Culbard’s (2012) At The Mountains of Madness: A Graphic Novel

22 August 2013


We put into an image the unimaginable and thus deceive ourselves we now know the danger.


Last year in 2012, I set myself the task to read at least ten pages per day, and now I’m not sure if I kept up. I have the same task this year, and I’ve added that I will write a book reaction (or reply) for each one that I finish (or give up on, if I stop). These will not be Amazon-type reviews, with synopses, background research done on the author or the book itself, unless that strikes me as necessary or if the book inspired me to provide one when I read it. In general, these amount to assessments of in what ways I found the book helpful somehow.

Consequently, I may provide spoilers, may misunderstand books or get stuff wrong, or get off on a gratuitous tear about the thing in some way, &c. I may say stupid stuff, poorly informed stuff. There are some in the world who expect everyone to be omniscient and can’t be bothered to engage in a human dialogue toward figuring out how to make the world a better place. To the extent that each reply I offer provides a here’s what I found helpful about this, then it becomes up to us (you, me, us) to correct, refine, trash and start over, this or whatever we see as potentially helpful toward making the world a better place. If you bother to take up your end of that bargain, that signals part of the problem that needs a solution.

A Reply To: Ian Culbard’s (2012)[1] At The Mountains of Madness: A Graphic Novel

Off the top of my head, I know that both Kurt Vonnegut’s (1969)[2] Slaughterhouse-Five and William Burroughs’ (1959)[3] Naked Lunch were both declared “unfilmable” and yet have received filmic realization—by George Hill (1975)[4] and David Cronenberg (1991)[5], respectively[6]—for better or worse. Lem certainly groused extensively about both adaptations—by Tarkovsky (1972)[7] and Soderbergh (2002)[8]—of his (1961)[9] Solaris (and presumably the widely unknown 1968[10] adaptation as well). And doubtless, fans and authors alike have lamented extensively what happens when a claimed-unrealizability of a book gets bowdlerized on the big screen.

We might look at this more closely, because certainly much of Lovecraft’s work and its mythos arguably seems unrealizable in visual form—a point that bears on Culbard’s attempt (or, less coyly, his failure) to do justice to Lovecraft’s text.

I want to distinguish first, though: the points I raise here do not hinge on the “what gets lost when one adapts from book to film”. I’ve long gone past the time of objecting to how something even as massive as Bondarchuk’s (1966)[11] War and Peace fails to “capture the book”. In general, I will willingly “play the game” of seeing in foreshortened, adapted form a book (that I admire) in film form. Film does not merely or automatically make a Reader’s Digest version of a book, though this clearly and destructively does happen at times: Redford’s (1988)[12] inadequate film-adaption of Nichols (1974)[13] The Milagro Beanfield War effectively destroys everything pertinent or of value in the book, while Streisand’s (1991)[14] serviceable and very watchable adaptation of Conroy’s entirely impressive (1986)[15] Prince of Tides loses an immense amount in the process of adaptation but not everything that matters. I would say that Spielberg’s (1985)[16] adaptation of Walker’s (1982)[17] The Color Purple (never mind the musical) similarly eviscerates the essential content of the book.

But these involve issues of content, as the limitless fan-complaints about any film adaption of Tolkien’s works shows. The objection involves sometimes changes to character but more usually leaving out essential subplots or introducing alien (seemingly unnecessary) elements. On this view, virtually every book becomes unfilmable, unless the author has politely written a (comparatively short) novella. One might invoke, in the translation from book to film, the objection raised about the translation of poetry from one language to another: all that gets lost in the process is the poetry.

However, this begins to point at the more essential “complaint” that happens in such translation. Objections to changes in content usually involve changes to the plot, literally to what happens over the course of events. Where an author might have carefully worked out a sequence of occurrences, a film brusquely or blithely compresses into a matter of seconds—the montage in romance movies has raised this to the level of kitschy convention—what took pages to arrive at in the book. And not only pages of development, but specific characteristic ups and downs related to the characters themselves, &c. All of this gets stripped away into an abstract encounter between “man” and “woman”—or, in the case of the epic fantasy genre, between “hero” and “monster”. In effect, to the extent that we accept life s comprising a journey not a destination, then the translation from book to film usually cheats us of the journey an thus the “real” pith and grist of the plot—assuming further that the screenwriter and director don’t butcher things in the first place.

However, Hollywood stands for too concerned with making money to actually stint on this essential fact of a journey. So the objection tends more to involve the substitution of a different journey (in the details) as the one proposed by the author in the book. In the case of Prince of Tides, the start-point and end-point in the book and film arguably remain the same, and in that sense crates the impression that the film adaption remains faithful; for The Color Purple, not so much—the divergences become too wide, though the film obviously still has an abstract power; with The Milagro Beanfield war, the relation between book and movie seems too severed to deserve the term faithful.

This reminds me about another quip related to poetic translation: “translating poetry is like a lover; if it’s beautiful, it’s not faithful; if it’s faithful, it’s not beautiful”.[18] And I mention this, partly to avoid quibbling about any specifics whether the films of Prince of Tides, The Color Purple, or The Milagro Beanfield War really deserve the term faithful or not. I choose them as examples because they seem to illustrate the point at hand, which points to how “faithfulness” typically hinges in people’s minds to the perceived fidelity to the events of the plot (as events and characters) and to the (admittedly nebulous) “spirit” of the book.

By contrast, I want to emphasize more what might actually make  book filmically unrealizable. But in the first place, one might argue all books become unfilmable. Certainly, the intense emotional grin of Conroy’s Prince of Tides comes nowhere across in the movie; something like Lumet’s (1962)[19] Long Day’s Journey into Night or Field’s (2002)[20] remarkable In the Bedroom occupy an emotional “space” akin to Conroy’s book, so we see that a director or writer may evoke such a space .

Similarly, the fact that Walker’s novel comes across in letters evokes an entire approach—to say nothing of long-standing novelistic tradition—that cannot come cross in a film; or, at least, to date no one that I know of has made a film that only shows a person’s responses to written letters and then the turmoil of writing responses, &c. An entire layer of the text disappears when we move from a world where what we see consists of something that another human being has represented on paper (in a letter) as compared to actually witnessing the events ourselves directly (in a film). I have not read Martel’s (2001)[21] Life of Pi, but I suspect that something similar works against his book as cast in filmic form by Ang Lee (2013),[22] lovely job that he does nonetheless. In the book, which all exists only on paper, we have only the words of Pi (and the author) to evoke any given reality—whether the events Pi narrates with the tiger comprise simply an alternative version of what really happened—whereas in the film, we see before us unambiguously a visual realization of those events. If Martel intends for us to doubt the nature of events—in essence, to have it become a matter of faith whether we accept Pi’s fantastic version of his story or the mundane one—then seeing the fantastic version of the story manifestly before our eyes makes it well-nigh impossible to have Martel’s desired level of skepticism about them. So too in a film version of The Color Purple—we shift, not at all subtly and very essentially, from a world where we ourselves (as witnesses to letters) find ourselves having to choose to believe or not. When Spielberg puts the images onscreen before our eyes, instead, that whole level of our personal involvement in the story disappears—we can hold events at arm’s length and merely feel sympathy or take pity on what we see. We become de-involved or de-implicated in a crucial way.

With this, we might reconsider Slaughterhouse-Five and Naked Lunch as unrealizable on film, then. Both hinge—the latter more so—on hallucinatory qualities or, to put it more simply, weird events. And we need only consider for a moment the brilliant success of John Carpenter’s (1982)[23] The Thing, or Cronenberg’s own success in Naked Lunch and other films, especially (1983)[24] Videodrome or (1981)[25] Scanners, to assure ourselves that filmmaker’s in the 1980s at least had no trouble calling forth miracles from their special effects guys.[26] The notion that one could not remain faithful to the events of these books—if partly because the events seem too weird to realize—does not constitute a sufficient complaint. This provides merely a technical challenge, which may or may not successful get resolved by the FX department.

This bears on Lovecraft stories especially, because his texts explicitly declare that people witness literally mind-bending, madness-inducing things—in At The Mountains of Madness, this particularly involves a city that Lovecraft describes as four-dimensional. To date, John Carpenter has perhaps most faithfully attempted to find ways to realize this sort of Lovecraftian thing—most explicitly in the Thing, and most directly in the spirit of Lovecraft in (1993)[27] In The Mouth of Madness, which nonetheless still surprisingly lacks the animatronic genius one finds so successfully in The Thing.[28]

Fairly enough, one must say that any visual realization of a literally madness-inducing thing not only poses an essentially impossibility but also an ethical no-no as far as liability in film gets concerned. But this at least points at what readers may, with complete legitimacy, call unrealizable in film—or (to keep this blog rooted to its source) a graphic novel.

Let me say then, briefly, that Culbard’s illustrations of Lovecraft’s Old Ones and the shoggoth that appears in the text fail entirely. More precisely, the book offers four instances of Lovecraftian beasties, two of which actually comprise illustrations within the text itself (i.e., a picture of Cthulhu included in a copy of the Necronomicon and some carved images of the Old Ones on a wall in the Antarctic city), while the other two offer direct realizations of those beasties: one where an Old One’s body get collected and dissected and a second where a shoggoth (basically only darkness an eyes) appears.

To contextualize this, Culbard generally elects for a very flat, semi-toony style for the book generally—at least when he draws human characters; he seems much more adept at drawing pictures of the vessels, airplanes, and icy landscape of Antarctica. One of the best illustrations, for instance, shows an exploratory vessel before a rising image of Antarctica’s Mount Erebus in the background, with its reflection showing and partly engulfing the vessel.

Nor should it seem small-minded to complain that Culbard misses the illustrative boat—one has a wholly reasonable expectation with a Lovecraftian work that the “ookiness” of Lovecraft’s original will come across. The fact that this involves tremendous technical difficulties gives one no excuse, especially as Carpenter’s The Thing demonstrates the possibility. Partly, it becomes a matter simply of putting forth enough effort.

Importantly, and I find this wholly appropriate, for the two depictions of Lovecraftian beasties that occur in the world of the story—i.e., on the walls and in the Necronomicon—both seem to directly allude to previous illustrations (in our current world). For how the Old Ones particularly look, it seems as if the genealogy of imagery may go back to Errol Otis’ original drawings for the Dungeon’s & Dragon’s Monster Manual—the original one that included the Lovecraft, Melnibonéan (Moorcock’s Elric series), and Lankhmar (Fritz Leiber’s works) mythoi prior to the cease and desist copyright violations that got such imagery pulled in subsequent versions. For the image of Cthulhu—a squid-headed thing half-raised in a sort of walrus-like gesture—I recognize the pose from somewhere I cannot name.

If this proposes a “theft” of previous imagery, it makes complete sense in a Lovecraftian setting, where no shortage of fell tomes full of mind-shattering imagery already exist in Lovecraft’s world. Precisely to encounter such dangerous works forms  key feature of his work. And with good reason. Lovecraft himself often takes pains to generate verisimilitude in his works. This occurs in many ways, the most common being—borrowed from any number of previous writers, perhaps most of all Conrad and his Heart of Darkness—the tale of horror related by a survivor, typically an indirect witness, of the event.

The very content Lovecraft wants to write about precludes direct narration. Even the Bhagavad-Gītā, which features surely one of the earliest and ballsiest of such depictions in literature—the direct manifestation of Kṛṣṇa (or Viṣṇu, if you prefer) in his universal form—resorts exactly at that moment to one additional level of narration, by switching the frame from the direct imagery we have witnessed for the last hundreds of verse to a reported narration from Sanjaya.[29] Literally, one cannot depict the impossible; one must resort to a report of someone’s experience of it, if we (as readers) will buy the depiction at all. This very type of narrative demands this extra layer of narration, which again points to why the visual realization of something like a Lovecraftian horror becomes so challenging. Unless the whole event gets wrapped in a haze of “hallucination,” we can hardly see what flashes before our very eyes on a very real movie screen—or the frames of a graphic novel—the actual depiction t hand.

Of course, Lovecraft already has the mediation of text; already, his material has a certain “protective layer,” because he only has words at his disposal to evoke anything in the reader’s min in the first place. Nonetheless, even here to generate a sense of reality—as also in the Bhagavad-Gītā—he correctly intuits the need to step back one narrative level. Thus, the reader (like the reader of Walker’s letters in The Color Purple) gets confronted not by unimaginable things but by another human beings report of unimaginable things. The situation more resembles listening to a friend claim to have seen a ghost than our seeing a ghost ourselves.

Sometimes this involves a cheap dodge in a work of literature or film—the classic case involves the lame effort by an author to claim some fantastic poet existed: well, provide some examples of this poetry.[30] But Lovecraft does not have this obligation, arguably, and the appeal of his mythos has everything to do with the sorts of anxieties or desires it evokes and nothing to do with any factual actuality. The nonexistence of Miskatonic University, in fact, paves the way to the most direct representation of Lovecraftian kitsch: the Miskatonic University T-shirt with the school mascot on it: an adorable squidlike thing with the caption underneath, “Go, ‘pods, go!” The various insinuations that the several bogus tomes marketed as the Necronomicon point to a more successful hoax, because in this case an actual book exists that paranoid-types may declare of, “But maybe it is real.” Similarly, the conspiracy theoretician’s claim that Lovecraft told nothing but the unvarnished truth, but of course the servants of Dagon (or whoever) have clouded over this fact to protect their cult, &c. The very non-reality of the Cthulhu mythos—its unimaginable four-dimensionality, so to speak—makes it that much easier to perpetuate as a hoax, i.e., to fin adherents who will attach (for real reasons or for market reason) to the “reality” of the stories.

This all does not simply invoke that commonplace often attributed to Stephen King, that the secret to horror involves opening the door, but only a crack. Not letting the reader or viewer see the whole horror too early does keep them stringing along, of course, but in the case of Lovecraft there never comes the moment when we get to see directly what’s what—by definition, we cannot or we would go md; even our narrator (in any number of Lovecraft stories) himself barely has much sanity left; even peripherally witnessing the events has dangerously impairing qualities.

By contrast, horror more or less promises we’ll get a whole view eventually, even if not all of the questions get answered. More specifically, Todorov’s (1973)[31] sense of the fantastic offers some insight here, where the fantastic comprises a literary genre that hovers between the two adjacent genres of the supernatural explained (the uncanny) or the supernatural left in mystery (the marvelous). Here, tales that hover in the fantastic for a while tend eventually to lapse by the end into one or the other of these side genres. (Radcliffe’s gothic novels, for example, provide a respectable version of the supernatural explained, or uncanny, but Scooby-Doo offers an extremely more familiar example). By contrast, a movie like Shyamalan’s (2000)[32] Sixth Sense,  Amenábar’s (2001)[33] The Others, or Friedkin’s (1973)[34] The Exorcist explicitly asserts the reality of the supernatural at the end. In fact, both Blatty’s (1971)[35] book and the film-adaption of The Exorcist explicitly rely on the viewer’s belief, embodied also in the character of Regan’s mother, that a rational (uncanny) explanation will eventually come up, but then does not. As for the fantastic itself, then, Todorov’s (1973) puts it:

The fantastic requires the fulfillment of three conditions. First, the text must oblige the reader to consider the world of the characters as a world of living persons and to hesitate between a natural or supernatural explanation of the events described. Second, this hesitation may also be experienced by a character; thus the reader’s role is so to speak entrusted to a character, and at the same time the hesitation is represented, it becomes one of the themes of the work — in the case of naive reading, the actual reader identifies himself with the character. Third, the reader must adopt a certain attitude with regard to the text: he will reject allegorical as well as “poetic” interpretations (33).

Henry James’ (1898)[36] “The Turn of the Screw” probably offers the most frequently cited example of the fantastic in literature, though Kafka’s Metamorphosis, much of Stanislaw Lem’s major fiction, Cronenberg’s Videodrome, and above all Gogol’s “The Nose” provide apt examples as well. The key point in all of these being that characteristic hesitation Todorov identifies and the fact that at the work’s end it remains difficult, if not impossible, to determine the “ontological status of events” or, more simply, to what extent events did or did not occur.

Lovecraft’s choice of “material” puts him squarely and probably unavoidably in the domain of the fantastic, since by definition the horrors he proposes lurk beyond our capacity to imagine. And this makes them, literally, unrealizable directly. What we may encounter, however, involve the reports of those who survived and/or their experience. Hence, one finds lots of similes and metaphors in Lovecraft’s prose; things continuously sound like something else but what they actually consist of cannot get reported, &c.

In conventional films, what I called the cheap dodge above also becomes a leverage point for affect and effect. In Demme’s (1991)[37] Silence of the Lambs, when filming Agent Starling’s description of a corpse, we do not see it, but rather the reactions of people to it, as well as Foster’s face and tremulous speaking as she describes into a tape recorder what she sees. But in a Lovecraft setting, we never have anything but this sort of indirect depiction. The success of Carpenter’s The Thing (I mean, of course, specifically the brilliantly realized “dog-thing” scene) hinges overwhelmingly on the successful creation of something weirder than we can make sense of, but such an achievement remains very rare; Scott’s (1979)[38] Alien being perhaps the next closest example. Even so, this moment in The Thing itself presupposes the depiction of something we can, in theory, make sense of—the inexplicable fusion of dog and human; a moment that Culbard channels in illustrating the horror that Lovecraft’s Antarctic explorers encounter.[39]

Rather like the interviewer’s naïve and seduced question at the end of Rice’s (1976)[40] Interview with the Vampire—a book that most significantly loses much of its essential experience even as well-enough translated into Jordan‘s (1994)[41] film—Lovecraft’s stories similarly tempt his unwise readers; our curiosity makes us want to look upon the mind-bending city of R’lyeh or the gibbering horror of Yog-Sothoth, or simply to peek into the pages of any number of fabled fell tomes, the Necronomicon most of all. That, exactly, makes the trap because that, exactly, led to the untimely end of whatever antagonist the protagonist of a Lovecraft story reports about.

An so perhaps for that reason we continue to try to depict these things, besides the more mundane aspect that a market exists for it. We will risk that slippery slope down into madness in the real world, believing a conspiracy exists, repeating ad infinitum ad nauseam that Lovecraft told the truth but no one believed him[42]—making him ultimately, with respect to his body of work, simply the near-mad one who witnessed the horrors, now come to warn us, “don’t be that guy.”

Fine, and this does not mean we may adequate represent the unrepresentable, or at the very least that whatever horror obtains from a Lovecraftian tale, it does not consist of the reveal. As soon as we see it, we move out of the genre of the fantastic and into the uncanny or the marvelous, depending upon the mood or temperament of the author. Immediately, Cthulhu and its ilk become classic monsters rather than horrors; they become, as often in Lovecraft’s imagination, images or symbols of racial miscegenation, or sometimes adequate (symbolic) embodiments of the age of anxiety.

As part of the Lovecraft “game” (as also the premise in Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, but none of the subsequent vampire books), we want to succumb to temptation but both Lovecraft and the Rice of the 70s assure us, in adamant tones, no, you don’t. So long as we think that Cthulhu seems “cool,” then we have succumbed to the spell. A tumblr image, now long gone, showing a squid-headed malevolence declared “telepathically inspiring images of Cthulhu in the popular imagination to pave the way for his apocalyptic return”.

We put into an image the unimaginable and thus deceive ourselves we now know the danger, just as George Zimmerman decided he saw danger in Trayvon Martin.

[1] Culbard, I., & Lovecraft, HP (2012). At the mountains of madness: a graphic novel. New York: Sterling, pp. i–ii, 1–124.

[2] Vonnegut, K. (1994). Slaughterhouse-five, or, The children’s crusade: a duty-dance with death. 25th anniversary ed. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence.

[3] Burroughs, W. S. (2001). Naked lunch: the restored text. 1st Grove Press paperback ed. New York: Grove Press.

[4] Universal Studios Home Video (Firm)., Hill, G. R., Geller, S., Monash, P., Sacks, M., Perrine, V., & Vonnegut, K. (2004). Slaughterhouse-five – DVD. Widescreen ed. Universal City, Calif.: Universal Studios Home Video.

[5] Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation., Cronenberg, D., Thomas, J., Weller, P., Davis, J., Holm, I., Sands, J., Scheider, R., Burroughs, W. S., & Criterion Collection (Firm). (2003). Naked lunch. [United States]: Criterion Collection.

[6] Someone also has pipelined a remake, scheduled for 2015.

[7] Tarkovsky, A., Bondarchuk, N., Banionis, D., Gorenshtein, F., Lem, S. (2002). Soli͡aris: Solaris. Special ed. [United States]: Criterion Collection.

[8] Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Soderbergh, D., Clooney, G., McElhone, N., Davis, V., Lem, S. (2002). Solaris [United States].

[9] Lem, S. (1987). Solaris. 1st Harvest/HBJ ed. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

[10] Iz Sobraniya Gosteleradio, Studio “Orlenok”, Central Television, USSR, Ishimbayeva, L, Nirenburg, B., Lanovoy, V., Pilyus, A., Etush, V., Kemarskiy, N, Lem, S (1968). Solyaris [Russia].

[11] Moskovskai͡a kinostudii͡a “Mosfilʹm.”., Bondarchuk, S., Savelʹeva, L., Tikhonov, V., Skobt͡seva, I., Stanit͡syn, V., Tolstoy, L., & Kultur International Films. (2000). War and peace. W. Long Branch, N.J.: Kultur.

[12] Universal Pictures (Firm)., Redford, R., Esparza, M., Ward, D., Blades, R., Bradford, R., Braga, S., Carmen, J., Gammon, J., Walken, C., Griffith, M., Greenberg, R., Allan, D., Miller, J., Grusin, D., Nichols, J. T., & Focus Features. (2005). The Milagro beanfield war. [United States]: Universal.

[13] Nichols, J. T. (2000). The Milagro beanfield war. 1st owl books ed., 2000. New York: Henry Holt.

[14] Columbia Pictures., Karsch, A., Streisand, B., Conroy, P., Johnston, B., Nolte, N., Danner, B., Nelligan, K., Krabbé, J., Dillon, M., Gould, J., Goldblatt, S., Zimmerman, D., Howard, J. N., Sylbert, P., & Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (Firm). (2001). The prince of tides. Burbank, CA: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

[15] Conroy, P. (1986). The prince of tides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

[16] Warner Bros., Spielberg, S., Kennedy, K., Marshall, F., Jones, Q., Meyjes, M., Glover, D., Caesar, A., Avery, M., Chong, R. D., Goldberg, W., Winfrey, O., Daviau, A., Riva, J. M., Kahn, M., Walker, A., & Warner Home Video (Firm). (2003). The color purple. Two-disc special ed. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.

[17] Walker, A. (1992). The color purple. Orlando [Fla.]: Harcourt.

[18] The original version of this has “woman” instead of “lover” but besides the off-hand sexism of this, it hardly seems necessary to limit fidelity and aesthetics only to women, so I changed the statement.

[19] Republic Pictures Corporation., Landau, E., Lumet, S., O’Neill, E., Hepburn, K., Robards, J., Richardson, R., Stockwell, D., & Lions Gate Home Entertainment. (2004). Long day’s journey into night. [United States] : Santa Monica, Calif.: Republic Pictures.

[20] Miramax Films., Leader, G., Katz, R., Field, T., Festinger, R., Spacek, S., Wilkinson, T., Stahl, N., Mapother, W., Wise, W., Weston, C., Tomei, M., Calvache, A., Reynolds, F., Newman, T., Economy, M., Hart, S., Dubus, A., GreeneStreet Films., Miramax Home Entertainment (Firm)., & Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm). (2002). In the bedroom. Widescreen version. Burbank, Calif.: Miramax Home Entertainment.

[21] Martel, Y. (2001). Life of Pi: a novel. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Harcourt.

[22] Fox 2000 Pictures., Georgaris, D., Netter, G., Lee, A., Womark, D., Magee, D., Sharma, S., Khan, I., Tabu, 1. N. 4., Spall, R., Depardieu, G., Hussain, A., Tandon, A., Bhasin, A., Danna, M., Squyres, T., Gropman, D., Miranda, C., Martel, Y., Dune Entertainment., Ingenious Film Partners (Firm)., Haishang Films (Firm)., Gil Netter Productions., & Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I. (2013). Life of Pi. Beverly Hills, Calif.: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

[23] Universal Pictures (Firm)., Russell, K., Brimley, W., Carter, T. K., Clennon, D., David, K., Dysart, R., Hallahan, C., Masur, R., Moffat, D., Carpenter, J., Lancaster, B., Campbell, J. W., & Turman-Foster Company. (2005). The thing. Collector’s ed. Universal City, Calif.: Universal Studios.

[24] Universal Pictures (Firm)., Cronenberg, D., David, P., Solnicki, V., Héroux, C., Woods, J., Smits, S., Harry, D., Filmplan International (Firm)., & Universal Studios Home Video (Firm). (1998). Videodrome. Universal City, CA: Universal Home Video.

[25] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer., Cronenberg, D., Héroux, C., O’Neill, J., Lack, S., McGoohan, P., & MGM Home Entertainment Inc. (2001). Scanners. Santa Monica, CA: MGM Home Entertainment.

[26] One could ask whether the advent of CGI has made too-lazy or uncreative the depiction of the supposedly impossible in film. Considering the visionary quality of animation in del Toro’s (2008)* Hellboy II: The Golden Army, it might not propose such a difficult argument. Or, perhaps more fairly, if one looks at Henson’s (1982)** The Dark Crystal and Cameron’s (2010)*** Avatar, then we see that the medium itself, whether analog or digital, wholly “rises to the occasion” when a creator expends enough of the right kind of artistic attention to getting it right. This points gain, then, to the laziness that CGI may enable.

* Universal Pictures (Firm)., Perlman, R., Blair, S., Jones, D., Tambor, J., MacFarlane, S., Hurt, J., Toro, G. d., Mignola, M., & Relativity Media. (2008). Hellboy II: the golden army. [Universal City, Calif.?]: Universal.

** Jim Henson Productions., Henson, J., Oz, F., Kurtz, G., Odell, D., Jones, T., Jim Henson Home Entertainment (Firm)., & Columbia TriStar Home Video (Firm). (1999). The dark crystal. Widescreen ed. Culver City, Calif.: Columbia Tristar Home Video.

*** Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation., Cameron, J., Landau, J., Fiore, M., Wilson, C., Kalogridis, L., Worthington, S., Saldana, Z., Lang, S., Rodriguez, M., Ribisi, G., Moore, J. D., Pounder, C. C. H., Studi, W., Alonso, L., Weaver, S., Carter, R., Stromberg, R., Rivkin, S. E., Refoua, J., Rubeo, M., Scott, D. L. 1., Horner, J., Dune Entertainment., Ingenious Film Partners (Firm)., Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I., & Lightstorm Entertainment (Firm). (2010). Avatar. Widescreen. Beverly Hills, CA.: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

[27] Carpenter, J., De, L. M., King, S., Lovecraft, H. P., Lang, J., Kibbe, G. B., Neill, S., Carmen, J, Prochnow, J, Glover, J, Heston, C., Turner Home Entertainment (Firm). (1995). John Carpenter’s In the mouth of madness. United States: New Line Home Video.

[28] The catalog of Lovecraft film-adaptions runs generally so-so to dismal, and too long to detail adequately here.

[29] Who, in fact, of course, has dictated everything to us all along.

[30] Nabokov does not skirt this challenge and provides such poetry in his (1962)* Pale Fire.

* Nabokov, V. V. (1989). Pale fire: a novel. 1st Vintage international ed. New York: Vintage Books.

[31] Todorov, T (1973). The fantastic: a structural approach to a literary genre (trans. Richard Howard). Cleveland, OH: Case Western Reserve University Press.

[32] Hollywood Pictures., Shyamalan, M. N., Marshall, F., Kennedy, K., Mendel, B., Osment, H. J., Collette, T., Williams, O., Willis, B., Spyglass Entertainment (Firm)., Hollywood Pictures Home Video (Firm)., & Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm). (2000). The sixth sense. [Calif.?] : Burbank, CA: Hollywood Pictures Home Video.

[33] Dimension Films (1990- )., Bovaira, F., Cuerda, J. L., Park, S., Amenábar, A., Kidman, N., Flanagan, F., Eccleston, C., Mann, A., Bentley, J., Sykes, E., Cassidy, E., Aguirresarobe, J., Ruiz Capillas, N., Grande, S., Fernández, B., Cruise/Wagner Productions (Firm)., Sogecine (Firm)., Producciones del Escorpión., Dimension Home Video (Firm)., & Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Firm). (2002). The others. Widescreen version (1.85:1) Burbank, Calif.: Dimension Home Video.

[34] Warner Bros., Blair, L., Burstyn, E., Sydow, M. v., Cobb, L. J., Winn, K., MacGowran, J., Friedkin, W., Blatty, W. P., & Warner Home Video (Firm). (2000). The exorcist. Widescreen format. Burbank, Calif.: Warner Home Video.

[35] Blatty, W. P. (1971). The exorcist. [1st ed.] New York: Harper & Row.

[36] James, H. (2008). The turn of the screw and other short fiction. Toronto ; New York: Bantam Books.

[37] MGM Home Entertainment Inc. (2004). The silence of the lambs. Full screen ver. Santa Monica, CA: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Home Entertainment [distributor].

[38] Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation., Scott, R., O’Bannon, D., Giler, D., Carroll, G., Hill, W., Shusett, R., Weaver, S., Skerritt, T., Cartwright, V., Goldsmith, J., Brandywine (Firm)., & Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I. (2004). Alien. Widescreen ed. Beverly Hills: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

[39] I mean that Culbard and Carpenter both include this imagery because Lovecraft did, but Carpenter’s influence seem present nonetheless.

[40] Rice, A. (1976). Interview with the vampire: a novel. New York: Knopf.

[41] Geffen Pictures., Woolley, S., Geffen, D., Jordan, N., Cruise, T., Pitt, B., Banderas, A., Rea, S., Slater, C., Dunst, K., Goldenthal, E., Rice, A., & Warner Home Video (Firm). (2010). Interview with the vampire. [United States]: Warner Home Video.

[42] For example, Rodionoff’s (2003)* Lovecraft, but the phenomenon occurs ubiquitously.

*Rodionoff, H., Brecia, E., Giffen, K., and Klein, T (2003). Lovecraft New York: DC Comics.


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