Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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I watched the documentary, H. P. Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. I'd heard about it for a while, and was happy to finally watch it. The influenced that these pulp writers have had on today's fiction is still being felt, and it's sad to think that most of them, with maybe the exception of few didn't reap much financial reward for their efforts. In fact Lovecraft pretty much lived around poverty level, but the atmosphere, dread, and horror that Lovecraft was able to evoke is still with us, whether it be strange tentacle-like monsters, like in the recent Stephen King book and movie, The Mist, or creating films from some of his stories like From Beyond or Re-Animator, his presence is still quite alive. The documentary has interviews with contemporary writers like Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Guillermo del Toro, and others that shed light on Lovecraft's life and times along with some of the mythology that he created. I knew that both his parents had mental problems, his father eventually being hospitalized and dying of syphilis. The movie goes into Lovecraft's early development as a child, how he was influenced by earlier writers, and how he developed his, for lack of better words, somewhat odd writing style. It's certainly worth a watch if you enjoy the author's stories.

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Staying with the Lovecraftian theme, I watched the SF low budget movie Monsters. It was an okay watch, but really not too much to recommend. Quite honestly, I'm surprised that with all the material be it SF books, comics or ideas that script writers, producers, and Hollywood types can draw from that they still go back to the same well. I guess it's a formula that works at the box office and being the SF geek that I am, I continue to rent them hoping to uncover a gem that will get me excited about the medium. Monsters was handled pretty decently given that it was low budget, but at the same time I wondered how modern audiences perceive theses throwbacks to 50's material. I feel the same way when I see some of the drek that passes for most of the movies on the SyFy Channel these days. All those rehashed ideas about Mega Shark vs. Giant Crockasaur (it's a giant crock all right) or whatever. Really? I can't imagine that they garner much of a viewing audience with those type worn out stories. I wasn't that impressed with Cloverfield or The Host either, and I see where there's supposed to be a Cloverfield 2 in the making.

At any rate, I guess when I watch these films, I can't help remember some of the older SF films that, at least for me, hold a greater fascination or respect, if for no other reason knowing that they had to overcome a lot more in the effects department. Now they just create some shaky camera movements or head over to the CGI department to work their magic and skimp on the story in the process. Monsters has an interesting enough premise: Alien invaders have come to earth and there is a quarantine zone between the United States and Mexico. A photographer has been down in the war-torn area sent to take pictures of the events and is enlisted by his boss, a large media mogul, to find his daughter, who happens to be in the area as well and bring her back home. As I said, it was an okay watch, the monsters look like a Cthulhu-like monster on spindly legs. There are a few scenes that look pretty cool, and a few carnage scenes that are handled pretty well. But overall due to budget, there's also a lot of dialogue parts and scenes that sort of drag a bit.

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I couldn't help while watching Monsters being reminded of an older 50's film called The Crawling Eye. I saw it many years ago in a Sci-Fi club I used to attend, but I think I'd seen it as a kid on TV too. In it there were some mysterious deaths in the Swiss Alps and also some mysterious radiation (it was a big device in the 50's), and Forrest Tucker has been summoned as he is part of the U.N. or some such governmental agency. In the final scenes you get to see a huge octopus-like creature on top of one of their laboratories. There's some people trapped inside, and it's been a while since I've seen the film, but if my memory is correct, I think they zap the critter with electricity and kill it. At any rate, the more things change, the more they stay the same, but as I said, Lovecraft's mythos survives, and is alive and well.

4 Comments:

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Tom Floyd said...

thanks for the reviews. I was wondering about these two features myself. Probably stay away from Monsters. I too am totally amazed that sci fi is one of the biggest sections in a book store, yet hollywoodland just keeps making the same old stuff. It is amazing.

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger Arlee Bird said...

There are a couple of upcoming blog events that you might like to check out.

DiscConnected's SUPER 8 DEBUT ALBUMS BLOG HOP

and

the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

Check them out. They are both looking for bloggers with creative minds.

Lee
Tossing It Out

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Tom, glad you enjoyed the reviews. I enjoyed the HP Lovecraft bio though. Yeah, I'd have to say: enough with the remakes. Granted I've enjoyed a few like Carpenter's The Thing, but generally speaking, the original film is fine with me. That doesn't stop me from watching them though, ha. I don't think I have your new address, you might send it to me some time.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Lee aka Arlee Bird: Thanks for the comments and the head's up on the other sites, I'll check them out. Thanks for dropping by.

 

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