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

Neil Gaiman

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