Tag Archives: Lovecraft

Sunday Digs: On Sea Monsters, Munchausen Syndrome, and Azathoth Eats Here

While you were all riveted to the gyrations of the train wreck that is Miley Cyrus and her bizarrely discolored tongue, this shit was going on.

In Spain, the body of a long serpentine critter with horns washed up on the beach. Some say “Sea Monster”; I say Oderus Urungus lost his penis again…

And while Mrs. Nugent was being hauled away for packing at an airport, this story cropped up…

There are things that are, sometimes, so immeasurably messed up that it is difficult to process them as truth. Being a writer and fan of horror, it usually takes a great deal to rattle me…but this story, so strange in its creepiness and what-the-fuckism, chilled me: In 2008 a Georgia woman faked the pregnancy and deaths of her imaginary twins in a twisted bid to make her step-son look bad!

And as we take steps toward a very bad Syrian situation, and while you were paying little attention to that because, hey, Dave Chappelle quit being a comedian, this story kicked in the door…

In Oklahoma City, Azathoth, the Lovecraftian god of chaos, has some fans who felt the need to enlighten townsfolk who dine at the Paseo Grill by mysteriously delivering a heavy stone monument to their favorite destroyer.

Till next time…

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Shades of Lovecraft

Shades of Lovecraft collects eight tales that are competent and thoughtful tributes to one of the genres founding fathers, heavy on influence and tentacles.

We begin with “Dead City.” After a flood, a town resident refuses to evacuate with most of the populace, he bonds with a strange old man as they realize this flood is merely a doorway to bigger, beastlier things.

“Ensnared” finds the crew of a fishing vessel in haunted waters, hauling in a catch they would have done better to have cut loose.

“The Shimmering” is a wonderful old-school adventure into the more science fiction side of Lovecraftian tributes. A man is the sole heir of his missing uncle’s estate. Upon moving in he makes odd discoveries through reading the volumes in the library. Then he notices bizarre lights in the woods, and upon exploring them finds that there are things much stranger than the lights out there.

All the stories in this collection are strong and well-written. But as it is with a lot of Lovecraft’s original work, they can get a little tedious. Rather, they don’t all resonate. The stories that left an impression, I singled out above; and while I didn’t mention the rest, it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy them.

With Shades of Lovecraft, Paul Melniczek delivers a lovingly rendered homage to one of the true masters of modern horror literature. Recommended.

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Zee Dreamt and Deathless Wurm

David James Keaton’s Zee Bee & Bee (a.k.a. Propeller Hats For The Dead), as it was called when it was sent to me last spring, has since been rechristened Zombie Bed & Breakfast (Zee Bee & Bee). Regardless of which title you acknowledge, this is one of the zaniest sort-of-zombie works I’ve ever read. Its audacity to be so smart and ridiculous at the same time is a feat worthy of your time.

In this novella, Keaton tells the story of a Zombie Bed & Breakfast, one of those themed places where folks pay to stay and be entertained. In this case, attacked by hotel workers dressed as the shambling dead.

Keaton has a keen eye for personality and pop culture references. The broken-down hotel workers are all schooled in their zombie lore and mythos and all know their script…but when things start to meander from the scripted path, chaos and bloodshed ensue.

Bizarro and smart. Keaton has a unique voice in his writing, the literary equivalent to Geddy Lee’s vocals—those who dig it are really going to dig it; those who hate it…you know what I’m getting at. It is also worthy of mention, an urban legend suggests that Tom Savini was so offended/insulted by this novella that it led him to “unfriend” the author on Facebook.

If I know David as well as I think I do, he wears that fact as a badge of honor.

Andrew Bonazelli steps up with his slice of world-ending pie, “The Dreamt and Deathless Obscene.”

His apocalypse is sort of quiet. Set in the mid 70’s, people just start acting strange. A plague has reduced half the populace to raving maniacs, while the rest don’t seem all that better off.

A group puts down roots in Philly and tries to start again, or at least live normally until a cure is found. In this, we are introduced to the Gall family, flawed and harboring their own insanities, well before the supposed plague began. The father and his two sons struggle to come out on top, through any means necessary.

Where Bonazelli elevates this above the typical post-apocalyptic crazy plague story, is with his unique grasp of the language. Quirky phrases and characters that are real and not at all the empathetic likeable survivor-types we’re used to. He takes all the templates of this genre and sets them aside, giving us a bleak and not-all-that-positive idea of the world ending—not with a bang, but with a whimper.

You can buy this book through Vitriol Press.

I don’t like worms. They’re icky and slimy. I get it. I’ve seen the world end at the hands of worms before. Keene served it to us and the 70’s film classic Squirm did as well. Worms are scary.

In 1991, Matthew J. Costello and Diamond Books gave us his novel Wurm. These worms are the scariest I’ve read about yet. Deep sea leech-like creatures that burrow inside and become what we are…and then become more.

Filled with great strong characters and frenzied pulp horror violence and gore, Wurm reminded me of all that I loved about the paperback heyday of the 80’s and early 90’s.

Wurm begins as an exploratory group is surveying a deep-sea volcanic rift and discovers countless species of strange life. Mainly worms. Big long worms. They go deeper…and are attacked by bigger, meaner worms who live in burrows. They return to the surface with a piece of a worm. From there, bad things happen and a new god struggles to rise.

Wurm is a quick read, a crazed comic-book fun ride through sci-fi tinged Lovecraftian landscapes. Recommended!

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