H.P. Lovecraft and Hollywood — an unholy alliance?

June 26, 2009 | 1:51 p.m.

The Los Angeles Times Calendar section recently ran a cover story on the stars and creators in Hollywood who are “heating up” right now. I was one of the contributing writers; I did a piece on Chris Hemsworth (you saw him in “Star Trek” and he will star in the upcoming “Thor” and “Red Dawn“) and this short story on H.P. Lovecraft.

HP Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft died 72 years ago but he may soon be enjoying quite the afterlife in Hollywood.

Lovecraft’s writing, both creepy and cosmic, was not celebrated during his life (far from it — he died of cancer in his native Rhode Island at age 46, a broken man hovering near poverty), but his ancient-evil concepts and complex mythologies have resonated mightily in recent decades with devotees as diverse as Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Metallica, Jorge Luis Borges, Mike Mignola and Neil Gaiman. Still, the author remains a vague brand name to most genre fans.

That may change in the seasons to come. In March, Universal and Imagine Entertainment announced plans to adapt “The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft,” a graphic novel from Image Comics that weaves a supernatural tale into a fictionalized life story of the author. Brian Grazer is producing with Ron Howard, who may also direct, suggesting that he may have enjoyed his immersion into spooky antiquities with “The Da Vinci Code” and ” Angels & Demons.”

Lovecraft has no bigger fan in Hollywood than director Guillermo del Toro, who proved adept at channeling Mignola’s Lovecraft-esque comic book creations — shambling beasties, tentacled horrors and eons-old magical lore — in his “Hellboy” films. Del Toro is now at work in New Zealand on preproduction for “The Hobbit” and its sequel, but he has made it clear that he hopes to tap into Lovecraft’s old magic after that with a film version of “At the Mountains of Madness,” about an expedition to the Antarctic that uncovers massive and ancient mysteries.

“I would love to do that film, it is my obsession,” Del Toro said. “To make a film of Lovecraft at that scale, with that story, it would be very special for me. I would love to bring Lovecraft to the world in that way.”

— Geoff Boucher

Photos, from top: H.P. Lovecraft; Lovecraft devotee Neil Gaiman. Credits, from top; I.S.T.A.; Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times

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5 Responses to H.P. Lovecraft and Hollywood — an unholy alliance?

  1. Check out this movie, if you like Lovecraft:
    Call of Cthulu:
    Might be a little difficult to find, but definitely worth it. It's a silent film adaptation of Lovecraft's novella of the same name. The use of 1920s film techniques makes it much more frightening, and more true to the tone of the original story, than a lot of movies with much larger budgets.

  2. cinnamon barks says:

    It would be great if someone filmed "The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward" by Lovecraft. I realize "At the Mountains of Madness" is a superb title, but you could read the book late at night and have pleasant dreams. "Ward" scared me out of my wits on a bright summer afternoon.

  3. Lovecraft is in the air these days. And for good reason.

  4. WC says:

    Gads. I hope Del Toro does NOT get the nod for that picture. While he can create fantastic visuals, he simply does NOT know how to finish a story. Every film of his that I have seen starts off great but finishes so weakly. Even the novel The Strain started so well and unorthodox , but it stumbled and then finished with a weak and utterly predictable & cliched finale.
    As for The Hobbit, I heard he had quit and Peter Jackson was looking to step in, but now this news to the contrary leaves me feeling apprehensive.

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