Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Is this film "Lovecraftian" to you? - the "Because I Don't Get It" edition

Film

  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 04 October 2016 - 12:39 AM

Help!

 

First, some background:

Spoiler

 

So, I'm asking for help from you, dear readers, to help me figure it out: can you think of any Lovecraft elements or themes to the films in this thread?

 

 

For my first "I don't get it" film,

  • Under the Skin (2013):  "Disguising herself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland and tries to lure unsuspecting men into her van."  (trailer)

I don't get the "Lovecraftian" recommendation.  I watched the film last night and this morning, and after trying my best to see some "Lovecraftian" angle, I just couldn't think of anything.  My best effort at justifying the recommendation:

Spoiler

 

Without a little TLC from anyone who finds it "Lovecraftian", I'll just drop it in a reject pile, and I kind of feel bad doing that without understanding the point of view of someone who might recommend it.  (Don't worry, I'm not here to put anyone on the spot, there are no wrong answers, I'm just genuinely curious about the justification.)

 

What do you think?  Would anyone like to take a stab at putting a Lovecraft spin on this film for me? 

 

 

Alternatively, have you seen any supposedly "Lovecraftian" film reccomendations that just didn't remind you of Lovecraft in any way at all?  Which films were they?


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal



Log in to remove this video.

#2 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 04 October 2016 - 09:15 AM

I'm mid-way through "Under the Skin" at the moment, so can't comment on the whole.

 

MEGA SPOLERS...

 

I'm upto where she lures the second man "into the black" and he sees the remains of the first man.

 

Personally I'd say it wasn't made to be Lovecraftian or presented as such but I think you could certainly put a Lovecraftian spin onto it.

 

e.g. Her biker accomplice is a human cultist helping her. She's a mi-go clothed in a human identity ( she takes on the clothes of the first victim ). She needs human sacrifices which she lures into the black lake. The whole black lake thing is so weird ( nice special effects ) as to be beyond human ken. I don't know how it ends yet but there might be more connections one could make. The black lake stuff feels to me like some sort of super science we don't understand rather than "magic" and that is very Lovecraftian.

 

So, in summary, It wasn't made as a Lovecraftian film but it can be painted as such.


Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#3 eternalchampion

eternalchampion

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 418 posts
  • Locationsouth of Kadath

Posted 04 October 2016 - 12:35 PM

I agree with Tony that certainly the film was not made to be Lovecraftian. However the character is weird enough and her "lake" is really haunting, but whatever she is towards the end of the film she begins to feel something like emotions and begins to connect with human aspects, she begins maybe to question her self. All these are not Lovecraftian. "Species" is more Lovecraftian in that sense.



#4 Aklo

Aklo

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 449 posts

Posted 04 October 2016 - 02:44 PM

Agreed, while I did like the film when I first saw it, not as interesting the second time around, i don't see the Lovecraftian angle, and I've had multiple people, websites, and articles recommend it as such.

 

Its a meditation on the loneliness of Humanity certainly, but I find that a far cry from the essential Lovecraftian feel.


The Optimist in me says we live in the best of all possible worlds...The Pessimist in me believes this is true.


#5 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 04 October 2016 - 02:46 PM

P.S. It's free on Amazon Prime in the UK at the moment.

Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#6 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 06 October 2016 - 12:51 PM

Thank you for the input, everyone!

 

I didn't even think of mentioning spoilers until Tony mentioned them - by its nature, this thread will be spoiler-heavy, and I should have mentioned it in the original post and will add it if I can still edit it.  If not, then it doesn't get any less spoiler-ific from here, sorry for anyone who hasn't seen some of these films!

 

On the plus side, I kind of liked things like that haunting black lake, and the white void near the beginning of the film, and the enigmatic introduction with bright lights and strange shapes floating in dark voids, the background music was fairly unearthly and the minimalist film-making was fairly disorienting.  In a way, the various human characters were enough of a cipher compared to the development we were given to the alien that the human characters seemed more alien than the alien did.

 

But, in the end, I just couldn't think of any way to put the pieces together and get a Lovecraftian theme out of it, without it feeling like a stretch.

 

If I were to include this in a list of "Lovecraftian" films based on that alone, I'd feel obligated to add "The Man Who Fell to Earth" and "2001:  A Space Odyssey", and although I think I might be able to spin a halfway convincing case for "2001...", there's a certain point beyond which only madness lay, and I'm skating too close to that point already with some of the film suggestions I have been including.

 

But, I'll leave the question open in case someone saw a subtle but convincing connection that I missed (which is entirely possible).

 

 

"Species" was a good comparison, actually, and strangely I didn't have that film on my "to do" list yet because I didn't think of it myself and none of the lists I used suggested it.  However, I can understand and get behind "Species" as a suggestion - beyond just the tentacles, as mentioned by eternalchampion the monster there was suitably indifferent to humanity beyond its value as Human Resources, there's the H.R. Giger character/set designs and special effects (from his Necronomicon art series/books, if I remember correctly), the way the alien was assembled in a lab with instructions from another world or another dimension which could be described as a sort of "piecing together of dissociated knowledge" opening up "terrifying vistas of reality" or in terms of an unearthly monster conjured up after delving too deeply into a sort of electronic or genetic forbidden tome, and from what I remember of the film and its sequels it had a sort of ready-made Delta Green plot to it with a cell of agents from various organizations trying to track the monster down before it's too late....


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 06 October 2016 - 12:51 PM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#7 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 06 October 2016 - 03:13 PM

If it comes down to a black or white "yes/no" then I'd say "not Lovecraftian" to Under the Skin personally.

 

But if you have a "tangential" or "interpretive" category then I'd stick it in that.


Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#8 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 22 November 2016 - 12:42 PM

CONTINUED:  Artemis 81

 

Hello again - I wanted to run this by the folks here in these forums - a British made-for-TV movie called Artemis 81; I've seen a couple recommendations for it as a "Lovecraftian" film, but I've never seen it all the way through, and from the little bit I have seen, it was difficult to grasp any particular "Lovecraftian" theme or philosophy in it. 

 

As near as i can tell, Artemis 81 is about an angel of light and an angel of darkness who are each trying to persuade a human artist to their point of view, which will determine whether or not an awakened beast of the apocalypse, "Magog", will destroy the Earth.  It apparently features a surrealist art/experimental angle to the storytelling, a lot of (often subtle) layers and references to other films and literature, and an infamously slow pace that made it all a bit hard for casual viewers to follow.

 

Artemis 81 is unlikely to be something I won't see all the way through any time soon, and I really haven't understood its recommendation as a "Lovecraftian" film based on the "Cliff Notes" descriptions I've seen, so hopefully someone here who has seen it and "gets it" can help describe its "Lovecraftian" elements for me - thank you in advance for any Lovecraftian light that any of you can shed on it for me, so I can understand the recommendation a little better!


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#9 nclarke

nclarke

    Son of Yog-Sothoth

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 881 posts
  • LocationSunny South Coast

Posted 22 November 2016 - 01:44 PM

It's got Ingrid Pitt and Sting in it, what's not to like.

 

It's out on DVD BTW for anyone interested there's also a book discussing the work.



#10 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 25 November 2016 - 04:49 AM

Thank you, nclarke!   :)

 

I get the impression Artemis 81 is a "slow-burner", with an experimental streak through it, minimal hand-holding for the audience, and a plot involving weird pagan artifacts and travel between parallel dimensions - just the sort of thing that I would normally enjoy watching.  It's on my "to watch" list for viewing eventually, but I've got such a backlog of other things to do eventually, I have no idea when I'll get around to it!


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#11 Aklo

Aklo

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 449 posts

Posted 05 December 2016 - 01:47 PM

Good luck with that one, Artemis 81 is the closest i've ever come to simply popping a DVD out and breaking the darn thing in half. I try to imagine it as something less pretentious or at the very least ponderous, but I've never gotten through the whole thing, I can only assume that it's "Lovecraftian" in the old, halfway through episode three your questioning your sanity at continuing to watch! kind of way...

 

(in all honestly half this post is hyperbole, but I do sincerely wonder how anyone would consider this thing Lovecraftian, it's just navel gazing if you ask me, half baked at that. I was very intrigued by the concept of the series and all, and I'm all for challenging concepts and 'difficult cinema'  but I don't feel this series even feels finished.)


Edited by Aklo, 05 December 2016 - 01:49 PM.

The Optimist in me says we live in the best of all possible worlds...The Pessimist in me believes this is true.


#12 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 05 December 2016 - 10:19 PM

Thank you, Aklo!

 

I glanced through it on YouTube, but don't have the time to watch it all the way through right now... it does seem to move pretty slowly, and I'd have to be in the right mood to invest any time in it anyway. 

 

Certainly, I didn't notice anything in skipping through it that stood out as "Lovecraftian" in any obvious sense, but maybe there are hidden depths that require more attention to reveal Lovecraftian qualities.

 

 

Anyone have any Lovecraftian thoughts on any of the following?

  • The Guyver (1991), and its sequels?  (I've never seen any of the films in this series; the descriptions didn't seem very Lovecraftian.)
  • Reign of Fire (2002) (I've never seen this, it's about dragons, right?)
  • Donnie Darko (2001) (I have seen this and enjoyed it, but I didn't get any sort of "Lovecraftian" vibe from it)
  • Virus (1999)  (I'm pretty sure I've seen this - I think it was like Alien, with robots?  If so, I don't get the connection....)
  • Martyrs (2008) (I've never seen this, but the descriptions I've read dismiss it as "torture porn", and aside from cultists being involved, I don't quite get the connection....)

 

I've seen these suggested on "Lovecraftian film" lists, and don't get the connection, but I'll consider including them in a master list of films if someone can...

 

A) Can make a minimal argument for a Lovecraftian connection of any sort - tentacles, atmosphere, themes, a momentary reference to the Necronomicon, a joke about Lovecraft, or something... or,

 

B] Can suggest a way to use it as inspiration for a Call of Cthulhu scenario.... or,

 

C) Can make the argument that the story is a variation on one of Lovecraft's stories (The Fog is arguably a variation on "The Doom that Came to Sarnath")... or,

 

D) Connect the films in some way with any of the Lovecraft circle (OK, I'm willing to include the Conan the Barbarian film series, Solomon Kane, The Twonky, or even Psycho in a Lovecraftian film list, under "of tangential interest", on that basis, if someone suggests including those films and explains such a connection....)


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 05 December 2016 - 10:21 PM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#13 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 06 December 2016 - 04:49 PM

I've seen Martyrs and it's *not* Lovecraftian. It's also a very difficult film to watch with heavy violence done to 3 women ( I was wondering why I was carrying on watching ) but the denouement is quite a payoff.

 

If anyone says it's Lovecraftian then they don't know what that means.


Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#14 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 06 December 2016 - 09:18 PM

When I start researching some of these suggestions, I can never really tell when someone's being a troll and suggesting a movie they know isn't "Lovecraftian" just to get a rise out of someone, or they don't know what they're talking about, or if they really do have a different insight on "Lovecraftian" that perhaps I'm not imaginative enough to grasp....  I try to err on the side of it being just a limitation of my insight or imagination, but, especially with films I've never seen, and without any further input from anyone who can make the connection, it's hard for me to even do that!

 

And that's just the easy stuff.  I'm really dreading the bit toward the end of the list of films, the Anime ghetto, where I've been shoving all the cartoons and Anime, because I know I'm out of my Weird-Japanese-Thing league there. 

 

  • Me:  "OK, what makes the Giant Planetary Defender Blade Girls GO!  series 'Lovecraftian'?" 
  • Anime Expert:  "Well, there's the character that appears in one frame of series four, Sailor Cthulhu...." 
  • Me:  "OK, he's like a monster or something?  Or at least a gaunt New England recluse with a fondness for architecture and genealogy who stumbles into cosmic horror while reading a diary or something?  Maybe he's got some dark genealogical secret, and his ancestry involves fungi from another planet, or radiate vegetables from the dawn of time, or creepy fish-men?  And he sails on a boat with a bunch of cultists?"
  • Anime Expert:  "No, of course not!  She's a school girl who wears a sailor suit, drives a giant robot to school, and kicks giant robot butt!"
  • Me:  "....Oh.  So, like, she goes to Miskatonic University?  There's like some sort of Gothic Horror thing going on?"
  • Anime Expert:  "Miska-what?  You mean the cat-girl?  That's a totally different Anime.  No, I'm talking about robot butt-kicking... a lot of robot butt-kicking.  And a talking koala bear."
  • Me:  "Talk... a Koala bear?"
  • Anime Expert:  "And the power of heart.  And she sings a cool J-Pop song, too!"
  • Me:  "Oh... OK, I get it!  And, that means she's called Sailor Cthulhu, because....   Wait, no I don't get it....  did you say 'cat-girl'?"

 

 

I'll really have to rely on the experts to guide me through the anime stuff, I'm afraid...


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 06 December 2016 - 09:22 PM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#15 DAR

DAR

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 364 posts
  • LocationChicagoland

Posted 06 December 2016 - 10:27 PM

I think the problem is trying to understand what "Lovecraftian" means is it "Call of Cthulhu" Lovecraftian? Is is "Strange Case of Dexter Ward" Lovecraftian? Or is it "The Outsider" Lovecraftian? Or "Dreamlands" Lovecraftian? The term itself, while evocative and useful, is also usable in a wide range of genres and themes.

 

So, Martyrs. Absolutely Lovecraftian, but in that New French Extremity Body Horror and Anti-Religion way - cult has figured out that martyrs can see the truth of the universe, so they decide to go about creating martyrs... There is a terrifying bit of "what is real" that also plays up the Lovecraftian vibe to the film. As opposed to Hostel and Saw which are not Lovecraftian in any particular way (even though you could probably get a terrifying DG scenario out of Hostel with a minimum of work) nor is something like Irreversible.

 

Reign of Fire? Yeah, I don't see it as very Lovecraftian. Sure there is "eldritch horrors out of time have awoken and rule the world" but it watches much more like a fantasy action-adventure novel than a horror novel. Kind of the same with Donnie Darko, I don't see that as Lovecraftian. Weird, sure, but weird doesn't automatically equal Lovecraft.

 

D.


FWIW, I could get on board with 2001 being a Lovecraftian film, there are certainly plenty of elements there, but I think that it is fundamentally too hopeful at the end to fit neatly into the category.

 

On that note, the Aliens films could fit (again, lots of elements work), while the Predator films do not.

 

D.



#16 yronimoswhateley

yronimoswhateley

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,164 posts
  • LocationDunwich, Maryland

Posted 07 December 2016 - 01:46 AM

Thank you, DAR - that's exactly the sort of thing I would hope to see alongside a suggestion for an outside-the-box film suggestion! :)

 

Spoiler

 

As a side note, as mentioned elsewhere, I've been rating these films on a rough scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being "not worth mentioning in a list of Lovecraftian films", 5 being that impossible, unfilmable adaptation, and the 3 in between being an unfaithful/inaccurate adaptation of a Lovecraft story or a really good imitation/pastiche of his work.  Perhaps surprisingly, I've actually been finding the film suggestions that I would rate a 2 (which includes Alien, Phantasm, The Evil Dead, Event Horizon, and The Thing, for examples), and even a few of those "don't fit neatly in the category" 1's, to be the most interesting to me, in what they reveal about what other viewers and I myself see in the Rorshach ink-blot test of Lovecraft's stories....


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 07 December 2016 - 01:46 AM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#17 DAR

DAR

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 364 posts
  • LocationChicagoland

Posted 07 December 2016 - 03:42 AM

I think that there is also a divide in many viewers and readers among films or stories with overtly supernatural elements (Hellraiser for example), the science fiction horror (Carpenter's The Thing), and the mundanely horrific (Martyrs) - all three of these films are potentially viewable and interpretable as Lovecraftian. But when there is a lack of overtly fantasy of scifi elements there is a tendency to shy away from the term Lovecraftian.

 

Though shows like True Detective show that even with a minimum of the supernatural it can work well.

 

D.



#18 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 07 December 2016 - 07:46 AM

MEGA SPOILERS for film Martyrs...

 

So, Martyrs. Absolutely Lovecraftian, but in that New French Extremity Body Horror and Anti-Religion way - cult has figured out that martyrs can see the truth of the universe, so they decide to go about creating martyrs... There is a terrifying bit of "what is real" that also plays up the Lovecraftian vibe to the film. 

 

I have to disagree - there is nothing "Lovecraftian" in Martyrs ( other than a cult, but I don't think "one cult Lovecraftian makes" )

 

Seeing the "truth of the universe" could possibly be considered Lovecraftian, but we are not shown/told what that truth is as viewers - it could involve God, Allah, no god whatsoever or something else entirely. There is definitely no pointer towards GOOs in the film and no evidence of where the film's cult came up with this method ( such as a dusty old "Lovecraftian" book ). 

 

You might want to say that the film is very nihilistic which is the closest to Lovecraftian I'd say it comes to.

 

But then I'd argue that one interpretation ( of many the ending could have ) is that the heroine's soul is assumpted and there is a very traditional judeo-christian heaven to which it has gone to be "with God" and her body tells the cult leader that she is doomed to hell for what she has done to countless girls. And because I'm talking lots of Christianity in that paragraph - I don't think that interpretation is AT ALL Lovecraftian.

 

If you need some form of adjective, yronimos, I'd say it's "interpretational" as Lovecraftian ( if you want it to be ). So I'd give it a 1 on your scale.


Edited by Tony Williams, 07 December 2016 - 08:02 AM.

Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#19 DAR

DAR

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 364 posts
  • LocationChicagoland

Posted 07 December 2016 - 10:49 AM

I have to disagree - there is nothing "Lovecraftian" in Martyrs ( other than a cult, but I don't think "one cult Lovecraftian makes" )

 

We shall have to agree to disagree, I see it as Lovecraftian in vein of The Picture in the House, and while there is certainly no GOO, I think the collection of pictures of martyrs in their final moments of ekstasis is a suitable stand-in for "dusty old book". I certainly don't think that there was any attempt to make a Lovecraftian film here, I just think that it can be watched and interpreted through that lens without much of a stretch.

 

Heck, if you need a GOO, a cult, and/or a dusty old book I'm not sure how much Lovecraftian fiction there is out there aside from pastiches and fanfic. Derleth is more Lovecraftian than Lovecraft in that case... :? 

 

D.



#20 johnmcfloss

johnmcfloss

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 172 posts
  • LocationCardiff, UK

Posted 07 December 2016 - 12:09 PM

It strikes me that it ticks the "could this be a CoC adventure box" pretty neatly - Delta Green investigating people snatched off the streets, because a cult has realised this is the best way to commune with their GOO of choice, but none of them are willing to sacrifice themselves to do so.

 

But I'm not sure that makes it Lovecraftian in-and-of itself, but I'm struggling to put into words why - it's possibly to Visceral, or too focused on a single individual's importance. It feels too personal, I think - too much emphasis placed on this one person, and in doing so loses the idea that ultimately, we don't really matter one way or the other.

If the focus was on someone outside, investigating what had happened, I might feel it fits a lot better.

 

(But, I appreciate, these same complaints could probably be used to talk about Shadow Over Insmouth. I guess Your Lovecraftian May Vary).


Edited by johnmcfloss, 07 December 2016 - 12:09 PM.






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Film