Posts Tagged ‘H.P. Lovecraft’

Have A Happy Cthulhu Christmas

December 27, 2022

This is for all the fans of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. I found this piece of funny art on the net sometime ago and, as a fan of Lovecraft myself, really enjoyed it. I hope you do too, and may ‘orrible, squamous things from beyond not trouble your sleep tonight.

‘Women with Wings’ – The SF Novel about Interbreeding with Aliens to Save Humanity from Racial Degeneration

December 21, 2022

As I wrote in my last piece, I’ve been reading a number of collections of SF stories published by the British Library. These collections are on various themes – other planets, life in space, the threat of the machines taking over – and the short stories are mixed with introductions describing the history of the depiction of that planet or theme in SF. The introduction to the story about Venus notes that before the modern space probes revealed that it was hell planet of scorching heat, crushing pressure and sulphuric acid rain, Venus was often thought of as an Edenic world with peaceful, angelic inhabitants. But I found myself particularly interested in the brief description of the plot of a book published in 1930 by Leslie F. Stone. In his ‘Women with Wings’ the Venusians are humanoids descended from flying fish. Both they and humanity are declining from racial degeneration, which the two peoples successfully combat by interbreeding.

I find this fascinating, as much SF is about the threat of alien invasion, including the rape and forced interbreeding with human women, and occasionally men. You think of fifties B-movies like Mars Needs Women or the lurid covers of the mid-20th century SF pulp magazines with square-jawed earthmen attempting to stop evil Martians or Moon people or whatever carrying off the heroine. Then there’s the plot of Hammer’s notorious Devil Girl from Mars, in which a Martian woman lands in Scotland in order to kidnap a man and bring him back as breeding stock to the Red Planet. This kind of cosmic rape is part of the contemporary UFO abduction myth, in which evil grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli are abducting humans and either physically raping them or harvesting their sperm and eggs in order to create a hybrid race. In some forms of the myth, it’s because the greys are racially degenerate and need to incorporate human genetic material in order to continue. Alien abduction and hybridisation were an integral element in the original X-Files, in which FBI agents Mulder and Scully were pitched against a secret organisation, the Syndicate, who were at the centre of a global conspiracy to create a race of alien hybrids who would be the only survivors of an alien takeover.

At the time Stone was writing, many European and American intellectuals feared real racial degeneration. This was at the hearts of the eugenics movement, that held that the biologically unfit would outbreed healthy people and so the human race would inevitably decline. One element of these fears was the threat of racial interbreeding with the non-White races judged inferior in the contemporary racial hierarchy. Hence the legislation passed by various American states to prevent the congenitally disabled having children and to limit immigration and prevent intermarriage with racial inferiors. These not only included non-Whites, but also Whites from southern Europe. These fears were also expressed in the SF and fantasy of the period, such as in H.P. Lovecraft. Several of Lovecraft’s stories are about racial degenerates preying on normal humanity and forced interbreeding from outside. In ‘The Shadow Over Innsmouth’, an entire fishing community has been taken over by a murderous cult and its people racially mixed through generations of interbreeding with a race of fish people. Stone stands out against these fears through presenting racial mixture with aliens as improving the biological stock of both races. He’s a curious exception to the trend, and I wonder if there were other writers with similar ideas.

These racial fears were the basis for the horrendous legislation and political moves against people of different race and the disabled that culminated in Nazism and the Holocaust. It’d be interesting to know a bit more about Stone and whether he had the same attitude to terrestrial peoples of different colours intermarrying and having children. It might be that such anti-racist attitudes were just confined to that fiction and involved the idea of people breeding with an equal or superior race. But nevertheless, it is remarkable that someone wrote a story that had a positive view of it at all, especially as racist regimes like apartheid South Africa, banned literature with similar themes and messages long into the 20th century. And in Israel there are still Jewish groups devoted to stopping Israelis forming liaisons and marrying Palestinians.

Sketches and Cartoons of Truss and Cabinet

October 20, 2022

One of the things I’ve been doing over the past couple of days is making straight and satirical sketches of our former Prime Minister and her cabinet of horrors. I was going to wait a while until I had worked out a few more ideas for cartoons, but after today’s news of Truss’ resignation, I thought I’d better put them up while they’re still relevant.

And as Truss has finally given in and resigned, I thought this piccie of her being dragged off by the mental health experts would be the most suitable. If you can’t read it, the caption reads, ‘They’re Coming To Take Her Away’.

Then there are these sketches of Truss as the latest incarnation of Pinhead from the Hellraiser 2022 film, and Therese Coffey as two characters from the 1984 version of Dune: Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, a man so fat he needs implanted anti-gravity devices to get around and has a horrible skin disease on his face; and a guild navigator, who are so mutated that they are carted around in large, enclosed vehicles.

Then there are these sketches. One is Coffey again, this time depicted as a Lovecraftian horror, and the other is of Jeremy Hunt. And I intend to send him up later.

And lastly there’s this one of Jacob Rees-Mogg. This is also a preparatory sketch for another cartoon.

Mr H Reviews on Guillermo del Toro’s Plans to Make Lovecraft Miniseries for Netflix

December 3, 2021

If this goes ahead, it’s going to be great news for Horror fans and especially aficionados of the great American Horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. In this video posted on YouTube, Mr H talks about an interview on one of the film sites with director Guillermo del Toro in which he states that he is currently rewriting a script he wrote for a film version of Lovecraft’s novella ‘At the Mountains of Madness’. Del Toro is a massive fan of Lovecraft, who is a huge influence on his movies. He has been hoping to make a film of Lovecraft’s classic story for ages. He wrote a script 15 years ago for a film version which would have starred Tom Cruise and been produced by James Cameron. However, it failed to get off the ground because of the massive costs involved. After the failure of the project, del Toro turned to making other movies like Pacific Rim, which shows a certain similarity in the confrontation of humanity with raging monsters. The script, however, is available to read on the net. Mr H here mentions that he’s also a great fan of Lovecraft, and has turned several of his stories into audiobooks, which can be heard on his channel on YouTube. These were not necessarily easy to make, because of the archaic style in vogue at the time.

‘At the Mountains of Madness’ is about a group of Antarctic explorers, who uncover alien creatures from a civilisation that arose millions of years before humanity. In the novella the humans follow the aliens as they head back to the remains of their civilisation, uncovering its history before finding that it has fallen, overthrown by the shoggoths, genetically engineered servants of the aliens. Del Toro states that the film version was his attempt to make a blockbuster. He now believes he can cut it down to make it smaller and weirder. There are only four set pieces he wishes to retain from the original script, and he intends to change the ending to make it darker. He’s therefore planning to turn it into a miniseries for Netflix. Mr. H is very optimistic about this, as it should mean that del Toro will have less studio interference and an access to a distributor as well as a studio. He believes that del Toro’s reworking of the script shows real commitment to getting the project off the ground. And he makes the point that Lovecraft’s cosmic horror doesn’t need big effects. Much of it can be portrayed with a character going mad with fear at something he sees off camera. On the downside, it has to be said that many of his commenters are not optimistic about the miniseries’ quality if it comes from Netflix. It also means that it will be on a streaming service, rather than the cinema, which may make it difficult for people to watch.

Trailer for Lovecraft Country – Short Lived SF/Fantasy Hero Tackling Racism and the Monsters of Cthulhu Mythos

August 28, 2021

Lovecraft Country was a short-lived SF/Fantasy series on H.B.O. last year. Set in the era of Jim Crow, its Black hero travelled across the American south, faced with White institutional racism on one hand and creatures like H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Cthulhu on the other. I found the trailer for it on Kinocheck International’s channel on YouTube. According to their blurb for the show

Based on Matt Ruff ‘s novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michael Kenneth Williams). This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback. Lovecraft Country (2020) is the new mystery movie starring Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett and Wunmi Mosaku.

I admit, I had my doubts about this show. Mr H in his review of the show said that it looked interesting, but that it wasn’t actually based on anything Lovecraft had written, although there were references to him and his monsters. I was also afraid that the series would take the opportunity for some very heavy-handed anti-racist preaching, of the type where all the White characters would be racists and all the Blacks good, decent, innocent victims. Andy Ruff, who wrote the source novel, is White, but Quinn, the Black YouTuber of the Science Fiction channel, Quinn’s Ideas, praised it and said that Ruff was exactly right in his depiction of the time. This is praise indeed, as some of the literature by White authors exploring anti-Black racism has been criticised as patronising, sometimes with good reason. Looking at the trailer, however, it seems that the series was actually quite good.

Unfortunately, we may never know. It’s been cancelled. The show’s writers and creators have said that there will not be a second series, which could be a real pity. I hope one of the other channels will repeat the series and if it’s out on DVD I’ll buy it, although that may be something of a forlorn hope given the way everything is being channelled from DVD onto the streaming channels.

No Flesh Is Spared in Richard Stanley’s H.P. Lovecraft Adaptation.

October 20, 2020

Well, almost none. There is one survivor. Warning: Contains spoilers.

Color out of Space, directed by Richard Stanley, script by Richard Stanley and Scarlett Amaris. Starring

Nicholas Cage … Nathan Gardner,

Joely Richardson… Theresa Gardner,

Madeleine Arthur… Lavinia Gardner

Brendan Meyer… Benny Gardner

Julian Meyer… Jack Gardner

Elliot Knight… Ward

Tommy Chong… Ezra

Josh C. Waller… Sheriff Pierce

Q’orianka Kilcher… Mayor Tooma

This is a welcome return to big screen cinema of South African director Richard Stanley. Stanley was responsible for the cult SF cyberpunk flick, Hardware, about a killer war robot going running amok in an apartment block in a future devastated by nuclear war and industrial pollution. It’s a great film, but its striking similarities to a story in 2000AD resulted in him being successfully sued by the comic for plagiarism. Unfortunately, he hasn’t made a major film for the cinema since he was sacked as director during the filming of the ’90s adaptation of The Island of Doctor Moreau. Th film came close to collapse and was eventually completed by John Frankenheimer. A large part of the chaos was due to the bizarre, irresponsible and completely unprofessional behaviour of the two main stars, Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer.

Previous Lovecraft Adaptations

Stanley’s been a fan of Lovecraft ever since he was a child when his mother read him the short stories. There have been many attempts to translate old Howard Phillips’ tales of cosmic horror to the big screen, but few have been successful. The notable exceptions include Brian Yuzna’s Reanimator, From Beyond and Dagon. Reanimator and From Beyond were ’80s pieces of gleeful splatter, based very roughly – and that is very roughly – on the short stories Herbert West – Reanimator and From Beyond the Walls of Sleep. These eschewed the atmosphere of eerie, unnatural terror of the original stories for over the top special effects, with zombies and predatory creatures from other realities running out of control. Dagon came out in the early years of this century. It was a more straightforward adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, transplanted to Spain. It generally followed the plot of the original short story, though at the climax there was a piece of nudity and gore that certainly wasn’t in Lovecraft.

Plot

Color out of Space is based on the short story of the same name. It takes some liberties, as do most movie adaptations, but tries to preserve the genuinely eerie atmosphere of otherworldly horror of the original, as well as include some of the other quintessential elements of Lovecraft’s horror from his other works. The original short story is told by a surveyor, come to that part of the American backwoods in preparation for the construction of a new reservoir. The land is blasted and blighted, poisoned by meteorite that came down years before. The surveyor recounted what he has been told about this by Ammi Pierce, an old man. The meteorite landed on the farm of Nahum Gardner and his family, slowly poisoning them and twisting their minds and bodies, as it poisons and twists the land around them.

In Stanley’s film, the surveyor is Ward, a Black hydrologist from Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University. He also investigates the meteorite, which in the story is done by three scientists from the university. The movie begins with shots of the deep American forest accompanied by a soliloquy by Ward, which is a direct quote from the story’s beginning. It ends with a similar soliloquy, which is largely the invention of the scriptwriters, but which also contains a quote from the story’s ending about the meteorite coming from unknown realms. Lovecraft was, if not the creator of cosmic horror, then certainly its foremost practitioner. Lovecraftian horror is centred around the horrifying idea that humanity is an insignificant, transient creature in a vast, incomprehensible and utterly uncaring if not actively hostile cosmos. Lovecraft was also something of an enthusiast for the history of New England, and the opening shots of the terrible grandeur of the American wilderness puts him in the tradition of America’s Puritan settlers. These saw themselves as Godly exiles, like the Old Testament Israelites, in a wilderness of supernatural threat.

The film centres on the gradual destruction of Nathan Gardner and his family – his wife, Theresa, daughter Lavinia, and sons Benny and Jack – as their minds and bodies are poisoned and mutated by the strange meteorite and its otherworldly inhabitant, the mysterious Color of the title. Which is a kind of fuchsia. Its rich colour recalls the deep reds Stanley uses to paint the poisoned landscape of Hardware. Credit is due to the director of photography, Steve Annis, as the film and its opening vista of the forest looks beautiful. The film’s eerie, electronic score is composed by Colin Stetson, which also suits the movie’s tone exactly.

Other Tales of Alien Visitors Warping and Mutating People and Environment

Color out of Space comes after a number of other SF tales based on the similar idea of an extraterrestrial object or invader that twists and mutates the environment and its human victims. This includes the TV series, The Expanse, in which humanity is confronted by the threat of a protomolecule sent into the solar system by unknown aliens. Then there was the film Annihilation, about a group of women soldiers sent into the zone of mutated beauty and terrible danger created by an unknown object that has crashed to Earth and now threatens to overwhelm it. It also recalls John Carpenter’s cult horror movie, The Thing, in the twisting mutations and fusing of animal and human bodies. In the original story, Gardner and his family are reduced to emaciated, ashen creatures. It could be a straightforward description of radiation poisoning, and it indeed that is how some of the mutated animal victims of the Color are described in the film. But the film’s mutation and amalgamation of the Color’s victims is much more like that of Carpenter’s Thing as it infects its victims. The scene in which Gardner discovers the fused mass of his alpacas out in the barn recalls the scene in Carpenter’s earlier flick where the members of an American Antarctic base discover their infected dogs in the kennel. In another moment of terror, the Color blasts Theresa as she clutches Jack, fusing them together. It’s a piece of body horror like the split-faced corpse in Carpenter’s The Thing, the merged mother and daughter in Yuzna’s Society, and the fused humans in The Thing’s 2012 prequel. But it’s made Lovecraftian by the whimpering and gibbering noises the fused couple make, noises that appear in much Lovecraftian fiction.

Elements from Other Lovecraft Fiction

In the film, Nathan Gardner is a painter, who has taken his family back to live on his father’s farm. This is a trope from other Lovecraft short stories, in which the hero goes back to his ancestral home, such as the narrator of The Rats in the Walls. The other characters are also updated to give a modern, or postmodern twist. Gardner’s wife, Theresa, is a high-powered financial advisor, speaking to her clients from the farm over the internet. The daughter, Lavinia, is a practicing witch of the Wiccan variety. She is entirely benign, however, casting spells to save her mother from cancer, and get her away from the family. In Lovecraft, magic and its practitioners are an active threat, using their occult powers to summon the ancient and immeasurably evil gods they worship, the Great Old Ones. This is a positive twist for the New Age/ Goth generations.

There’s a similar, positive view of the local squatter. In Lovecraft, the squatters are barely human White trash heading slowly back down the evolutionary ladder through poverty and inbreeding. The film’s squatter, Ezra, is a tech-savvy former electrician using solar power to live off-grid. But there’s another touch here which recalls another of Lovecraft’s classic stories. Investigating what may have become of Ezra, Ward and Pierce discover him motionless, possessed by the Color. However, he is speaking to them about the Color and the threat it presents from a tape recorder. This is similar to the voices of the disembodied human brains preserved in jars by the Fungi from Yuggoth, speaking through electronic apparatus in Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness. Visiting Ezra earlier in the film, Ward finds him listening intently to the aliens from the meteorite that now have taken up residence under the Earth. This also seems to be a touch taken from Lovecraft’s fiction, which means mysterious noises and cracking sounds from under the ground. Near the climax Ward catches a glimpse through an enraptured Lavinia of the alien, malign beauty of the Color’s homeworld, This follows the logic of the story, but also seems to hark back to the alien vistas glimpsed by the narrator in The Music of Erich Zann. And of course it wouldn’t be a Lovecraft movie without the appearance of the abhorred Necronomicon. It is not, however, the Olaus Wormius edition, but a modern paperback, used by Lavinia as she desperately invokes the supernatural for protection.

Fairy Tale and Ghost Story Elements

Other elements in the movie seem to come from other literary sources. The Color takes up residence in the farm’s well, from which it speaks to the younger son, Jack. Later, Benny, the elder son tries to climb down it in an attempt to rescue their dog, Sam, during which he is also blasted by the Color. When Ward asks Gardner what has happened to them all, he is simply told that they’re all present, except Benny, who lives in the well now. This episode is similar to the creepy atmosphere of children’s fairy tales, the ghost stories of M.R. James and Walter de la Mare’s poems, which feature ghostly entities tied to specific locales.

Oh yes, and there’s also a reference to Stanley’s own classic film, Hardware. When they enter Benny’s room, glimpsed on his wall is the phrase ‘No flesh shall be spared’. This is a quote from Mark’s Gospel, which was used as the opening text and slogan in the earlier movie.

The film is notable for its relatively slow start, taking care to introduce the characters and build up atmosphere. This is in stark contrast to the frenzied action in other, recent SF flicks, such as the J.J. Abram’s Star Trek reboots and Michael Bay’s Transformers. The Color first begins having its malign effects by driving the family slowly mad. Theresa accidentally cuts off the ends of her fingers slicing vegetables in the kitchen as she falls into a trance. Later on, Lavinia starts cutting herself as she performs her desperate ritual calling for protection. And Jack and later Gardner sit enraptured looking at the television, vacant except for snow behind which is just the hint of something. That seems to go back to Spielberg’s movie, Poltergeist, but it’s also somewhat like the hallucinatory scenes when the robot attacks the hero from behind a television, which shows fractal graphics, in Hardware.

Finally, the Color destroys the farm and its environs completely, blasting it and its human victims to ash. The film ends with Ward contemplating the new reservoir, hoping the waters will bury it all very deep. But even then, he will not drink its water.

Lovecraft and Racism

I really enjoyed the movie. I think it does an excellent job of preserving the tone and some of the characteristic motifs of Lovecraft’s work, while updating them for a modern audience. Despite his immense popularity, Lovecraft is a controversial figure because of his racism. There were objections last year or so to him being given an award at the Hugo’s by the very ostentatiously, sanctimoniously anti-racist. And a games company announced that they were going to release a series of games based on his Cthulhu mythos, but not drawing on any of his characters or stories because of this racism. Now the character of an artist does not necessarily invalidate their work, in the same way that the second best bed Shakespeare bequeathed to his wife doesn’t make Hamlet any the less a towering piece of English literature. But while Lovecraft was racist, he also had black friends and writing partners. His wife was Jewish, and at the end of his life he bitterly regretted his earlier racism. Also, when Lovecraft was writing in from the 1920s to the 1940s, American and western society in general was much more racist. This was the era of segregation and Jim Crow. It may be that Lovecraft actually wasn’t any more racist than any others. He was just more open about it. And it hasn’t stopped one of the internet movie companies producing Lovecraft Country, about a Black hero and his family during segregation encountering eldritch horrors from beyond.

I don’t know if Stanley’s adaptation will be to everyone’s taste, though the film does credit the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society among the organisations and individuals who have rendered their assistance. If you’re interested, I recommend that you give it a look. I wanted to see it at the cinema, but this has been impossible due to the lockdown. It is, however, out on DVD released by Studio Canal. Stanley has also said that if this is a success, he intends to make an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror. I hope the film is, despite present circumstances, and we can look forward to that piece of classic horror coming to our screens. But this might be too much to expect, given the current crisis and the difficulties of filming while social distancing.

Radio 4 Serialising New Version of ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’

May 21, 2020

Interesting news for fans of the Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Radio 4 begins a new version of his short story, ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ on Monday, 25th May 2020. It’s split into ten parts, and is being broadcast on weekdays at the same time of 7.45 pm. It’s been updated by the show’s writer, Julian Simpson, so that the the pair investigating Ward’s disappearance from a secure psychiatric hospital are a couple of podcasters, Matthew Heawood and Kennedy Fisher. In several of Lovecraft’s short stories, the main characters’ final act is to write down their adventures for others to find just before they’re finally killed or captured by whatever nameless cosmic horrors are pursuing them. ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, in which a sailor, who has narrowly survived an encounter with the malign elder god in his sunken island of R’lyeh, and writes down his account of the experience shortly before his own death, is one classic example of this. However, as it’s now 2020 instead of the 1920s, and it’s for the radio, Friday’s edition of the show, according to the Radio Times, has the pair uncovering his audio files.

This could be good. The Beeb has broadcast some of Lovecraft’s works before. Radio 4 Extra a few years ago serialised ‘At the Mountains of Madness’, which was read by a narrator. That seemed to stick faithfully to Lovecraft’s text. While this obviously takes a few liberties, it could still be worth listening to. On the other hand, it could be like the BBC 1’s version of the War of the Worlds last year, which diverged so much from Wells’ book that it was ultimately disappointing. Let’s hope it isn’t.

Bad Taste Movie Alert! Charles Band’s ‘Corona Zombies’

April 27, 2020

Readers of this blog will know that I have a taste for Science Fiction, and some Fantasy and Horror, as well as movies that are so spectacularly bad or trashy that they’re hilarious or simply weirdly entertaining. It’s a type of cinema that’s been dubbed ‘Badfilm’ or ‘psychotronic’, and consists largely of low budget B-movies and their imitators. In recent years there have been a number of SF, Fantasy and Horror comedies that have deliberately parodied these films. Enough people love horrendously bad movies to have made The Room into a hit film despite it being judged one of the worst films of all time.

Half the world is in lockdown because of the Coronavirus crisis, but this hasn’t stop the masters of schlock horror producing their wares. I am therefore very pleased to inform you that the master of low budget ‘Orror’, Charles Band, has released his latest masterpiece of bad taste: Corona Zombies. I found a review of it and a trailer on the excellent website, Moria, which is an encyclopaedic collection of reviews of SF, Fantasy and Horror films.

It’s plot is very simple. A young woman, Barbie, comes back to her home in a trailer park to put on the news, where she learns that a special police unit, Corona Squad, has been formed to investigate the hijacking of a consignment of toilet paper. In the course of doing their duty, they’ve been attacked by a horde of ravening zombies. The film was completed in the very short space of a month, and the original footage shot for this epic only has three actors – the woman playing the heroine, a bloke who appears at various points in makeup as a zombie, and another woman, who’s just a voice at the end of the telephone when Barbie phones the authorities wondering what’s happened. The rest of the movie – 75 per cent of it – is made up of old footage from the 1980 Italian horror movie, Zombie Creeping Flesh. Which has been taken by Band and redubbed to give it deliberately silly dialogue. Band also recycles a few pieces of footage from one of his movies, Zombies vs Strippers.

Band first appeared in the 1980s when he formed Empire Pictures and then Full Moon. He’s responsible for a string of low budget schlock flicks, such as Ghoulies. However, Empire were also responsible for a couple of excellent ’80s horror movies by Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna, Re-Animator and From Beyond. Loosely based – and very loosely at that – on short stories by the cult SF/Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, these had very good creature effects and went in for over the top splatter, so that they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Both Re-Animator and From Beyond have become classics of ’80s Horror. Re-Animator was praised by critics at the time for its wry humour. It starred Jeffrey Coombs as mad scientist Herbert West, who has discovered a serum to reanimate the dead. In one scene West makes a deadpan joke about getting parts as injects a severed head and its former body.

Band himself, however, doesn’t seem to have risen to these cinematic heights, and simply continued to grind out his low-budget epics, often using old footage from his previous movies. He’s not alone in this. Roger Corman used to do it. So did Herschel Gordon Lewis and Samuel Z. Arkoff. I think it was Arkoff, who used to buy up foreign language European movies, edited and re-dubbed them, and then released them to unsuspecting American public as completely new movies. I’ve got a feeling one of his works of staggering genius was Billy the Kid Versus Dracula. He was certainly responsible for Sign of the Gladiator. This was originally an Italian sword and sandal epic set just after the fall of Rome. It had nothing to do with gladiators, but movies about them were in vogue at the time and one of the characters had been a gladiator. So he bought it, changed the title, did a bit of editing, and behold! Another masterpiece to wow the paying public. Band here seems to have followed their methodology.

Lewis and Arkoff released their movies as serious films, but Band is different here in that the film’s meant to be funny. There are apparently a lot of jokes about toilet paper shortages, as well as the new vocabulary that’s come in with the crisis, such as ‘flattening the curve’ and ‘social distancing’. The Coronavirus crisis itself isn’t funny, but it is important that people all over the world keep morale up. It’s why there’s a short film in between the programmes on the Beeb most nights in which an unseen narrator recites a poem about how we should all keep our spirits up, while inspiring images of ordinary British life, including Dad’s Army, flash by. It’s one of the reasons why every Thursday we’re all out on our doorsteps clapping for the NHS. We can keep our spirits up by laughing. And one of the ways we can do that, is through trashy films in deliberately bad taste. Like Corona Zombies.

Moria gave this splendid example of American cinema a single star, meaning that it’s rubbish, and warned that although it was the first of such movies, it wouldn’t be the last. Which to aficionados of badfilm is probably an endorsement of a promise of lots of similar horrific goodies to come. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Unfortunately all the cinemas are close, so I have no idea where you’d see it. On DVD or streaming service, perhaps.

The Morie review of this work of cinematic genius is at:

Corona Zombies (2020)

Cartoon – The Tories: Nightmares of the Flesh

March 23, 2020

Here’s another of my cartoons lampooning and attacking their Tories and their noxious leading members. In this case, it’s influenced by a few of the ‘body horror’ films of the 1980s – The Thing, Society and From Beyond, and one of the early ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ strips in 2000 AD, ‘Killerwatt’. Body horror is that part of the Horror genre, where the human body mutates and takes on warped, twisted forms, though I think it can also include the ‘torture porn’ subgenre, in which people are tortured and mutilated.

In The Thing, an American base in the Antarctic discovers a crashed UFO, from which an alien escaped to infect members of the base’s team and their animals. The alien replicates and hides by infecting other creatures, devouring them at a cellular level but copying their form – until it finally reveals itself by twisting itself into weird, hideous forms. As the bodies mount, and successive characters are revealed to have been infected and taken over, paranoia mounts. The horror is as much in the fear and distrust the characters have of each other, as of the grotesque appearances of the Thing itself.

From Beyond, directed by Stuart Gordon is roughly based on the short story, ‘Beyond the Wall of Sleep’ by H.P. Lovecraft. However, the film bears little resemblance to the story that inspired it. In the film, two scientists, Tillinghast and Dr. Pretorius, are using a device, the resonator, to peer into a unseen dimension surrounding our own and its denizens. Tillingast is arrested for murder after one of the creatures from that dimension then appears and bites the head off his superior, Pretorius. He takes a curious policeman and a female psychiatrist from the mental hospital in which he has been confined back to his laboratory, and set the resonator running to show them he’s telling the truth. But each time they switch on the machine, Pretorius appears, in progressively grotesque forms as it is revealed that he’s become a monster of hideous appetites. The slogan for the movie was ‘Humans are such easy prey’.

In Society, directed by Gordon’s collaborator, Brian Yuzna, the horror is mixed with social comment aimed squarely at the class system of Reagan’s America. It’s hero is a teenage lad, Bill Whitney, who finds out that he’s really adopted, and his upper class family, their friends and colleagues, are really monsters. These creatures have total control of their bodies, which they can deform and twist like rubber or plastic. They are predatory and exploitative, feeding on ordinary humans in orgies in which they melt down almost to a liquid state to feast on their victims.

It’s hard not to see this as a comment on the exploitative, predatory nature of the rich business class set free by Reagan and the Republicans.

But these films were anticipated in their horrors by 2000 AD and ‘Nemesis the Warlock’. Created by comics veterans Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill, the strip was set thousands of years in the future, when humanity had moved underground, away from the devastated surface and the planet’s name was now Termight. Ruling Termight was Torquemada, grand master of the Terminators, a quasi-monastic order, who had turned humanity’s fear of intelligent aliens into a religion and led wars of extermination against them. Opposed to him was the alien hero, Nemesis, and his resistance organisation, Credo. The character first appeared in the two ‘Comic Rock’ strips, ‘Going Underground’ and ‘Killerwatt’ in 1980, several years before the above films. In the latter story, the alien chased Torquemada down the teleport wires the grand master was using to get to his capital, Necropolis, after his train journey overland was interrupted by a gooney bird, a colossal bird creature resembling, or evolved from, the Concorde airplane. As the two raced down the wires, they had to cross the Sea of Lost Souls, a nightmare sea of neutrons and twisted bodies created when a gooney bird sat on the teleport wires.

Two panels showing the Sea of Lost Souls from ‘Killerwatt’. Art by that zarjaz master of the macabre, Kevin O’Neill.

In this cartoon, I’ve drawn a similar landscape, complete with surfers, where the denizens of the sea are Tory politicos. They are Boris Johnson, David Gauke, Dominic Cummings, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nicky Morgan and Theresa May. I hope you enjoy it, and that it doesn’t give you nightmares. Oh yes, and what you see behind them is supposed to be giant tongues, in case you thought it was anything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cartoon: From Below Journalistic Standards

February 2, 2020

Welcome to another of my cartoons satirising the Tories. In this one I try to send up two of the most notorious of their press lackeys – Rebecca Wade and her boss, Rupert Murdoch. The cartoon’s inspired by the 1980s Lovecraftian Horror flick, From Beyond by Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna. Gordon and Yuzna have made a number of films based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, beginning with Reanimator, which remains probably the best known of them. Based very roughly on Lovecraft’s story ‘From Beyond the Wall of Sleep’, The film is about a pair of scientists, who attempt to see into unknown dimensions beyond our own using a device, the resonator, which stimulates the pineal gland. One of the entities attacks and kills the lead scientist, Dr. Pretorius. His assistant, crawford Tillinghast, is arrested and confined in a lunatic asylum. He then attempts to clear himself by taking a policeman, Bubba Brownlee , and female sychiatrist Katherine McMichaels back to his laboratory to show them he’s telling the truth about the experiments. Setting the resonator running again, Pretorius returns, gradually mutating into a terrible monster intent on evil. The film’s slogan was ‘Humans are such easy prey’, which became the comment in the cartoon because of the Murdoch press’ complete contempt for press regulators and their vain attempts to uphold journalistic standards.

I’m afraid the text isn’t easy to see, as the red I used is too close to the background purple. But I hope you can still make it out.

Enjoy!