Thursday, June 20, 2013

Exploring my passions, pursuing a dream, and adapting HP Lovecraft

I first saw an advertisement for the Full Moon adaptation of “The Lurking Fear” in some random issue of Fangoria back in ’92 or ’92. It was a picture that featured a creepy manor house overlooking a dug up cemetery, and from the depths of a small cave near the bottom of the picture a creepy little face stared out. It was a picture that sort of caught my attention from the get-go with a pretty cool monster design, classic motif, and the expectation that comes from adapting material by H.P. Lovecraft… before I realized that Lovecraft is rarely ever adapted very well.

The story was stuffed in some random book of collected works, a story that didn’t really measure up well against the likes of “Rats in the Walls”, “Call of Cthulhu”, or “Dagon”… .but it featured many of the Lovecraft staples, from a dark secret driving the narrator mad to the general feelings of dread and horror associated with his work. The Lurking Fear, however, was a little more traditional than most. It featured a much more linear storyline with a variety of supporting characters to push the narrative forward. It would be a few short years before I managed to come across the film, but finding the story and a love for H.P. Lovecraft was much quicker.

The movie, when I eventually saw it, was a poor representation of the work though it did try to maintain a number of the character names featured in the original story. It featured Jeffrey Combs in one of his many featured Lovecraftian roles, it was a typical Full Moon production, and the creature design that I thought looked pretty cool on the box-cover wound up looking rubber and stiff while in action. But it still held a bit of a special place in my heart for box cover and advertisement art alone. My one thought was, “this could be done better.”

So flash forward some twenty years later and I find myself in need of a project, something to occupy my time between family, work, and all the stresses involved. I’ve got a passion for writing, but I can’t think of anything to write and I’m sort of floundering creatively… so I decided to tackle a written stage adaptation of something by H.P. Lovecraft. The first thing I thought of was “The Dunwhich Horror”, probably his best known and most often adapted works. It’s a fairly standard story with a solid narrative, but it’s been done before (none of them especially faithful or necessarily ‘good’ <though I did enjoy the Corman version>). My second thought was something related to The Rats in the Walls, or maybe The Call of Cthullhu, but both seemed a little difficult to envision. And this led me to “The Lurking Fear”, my old flame. It was a good narrative and I had once thought “This could be done better” and then did nothing to prove it. Well, I consider comments like that to be a challenge from myself so I set out to tackle the project and see what I could make of it.

It started out as a verbatim faithful adaptation, but realized that it was really just one guy narrating a whole lot of dialogue. I needed to create some action, some sort of narrative dynamic, and so I placed the whole of the story within the confines of the Martense Manor and built a story around the narrators’ description of events. I added characters from the story and created one of my own to encapsulate the whole of various others who appear briefly. I looked beyond the story and to others from Lovecraft for influence, for direction, for a general sense of where things might end up going . The end result is pretty good and something I actually believe in… so after several drafts and revisions, I think the whole thing is ready and geared up. It’s time to see if I can get it produced.