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yock's Lovecraftathon: The Evil Clergyman



What a fantastic title! I gather this is an excerpt from a letter Lovecraft wrote, recounting a dream he'd had. So, again, it's not a finished short story, though it was published as one after his death in Weird Tales.


The tale is of a narrator who inadvertently, and to be honest rather stupidly, releases the trapped soul and more of the titular clergyman. If you're told not to do anything with a mysterious box, whatever you do, follow those instructions! Though to be fair, if he'd done that, the story would be even shorter, and much less fun.


If it had been published as a story in Lovecraft's time it would definitely have benefited from further development. It's rather sparse in many places, and needs some touches added. But, oh, it's so imaginative, and well conceived as an idea. It's also satisfyingly terrifying, with a good ending. I particularly liked the images of the clergyman moving around, and the other characters that appeared. And the burning of the books. Yes, it's really very evocative.


I think this is probably the Lovecraft fragment that I'd most like to have seen finished properly. I think it's a lovely piece, albeit rarely read by Lovecraft fans, and well worth seeking out.

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Director Charles Band adapted the story into a 1987 short film "The Evil Clergyman" starring Lovecraft adaptation regulars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, apparently for a "lost" anthology horror film (Pulse Pounders) that was never released; the short can be found floating around out there on YouTube etc.  It's been a while since I've read the story or seen the movie, but I get the impression that the short film adaptation borrows a little bit from the likes of "The Rats in the Walls" and "Dreams in the Witch House" to pad out the bits that Lovecraft hadn't finished enough to fit the short's part of the unreleased/unmade three-story anthology film.  Like the other '80s movies of its kind, the result wasn't the best or most faithful of Lovecraft adaptations, but it wasn't completely unwatchable, and makes a nice (if slow-moving) companion piece to the other cheesy (and sleazy) 1980s & 1990s Combs/Crampton Lovecraft films (From Beyond, Re-Animator, Castle Freak, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, Dagon, Masters of Horror: Dreams in the Witch House, etc.)

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