interludes and elder gods

The holiday season is such a distraction. It’s nice to meet up with friends and family, exchange gifts, share a meal, and over-indulge a little, but there’s a limit to my ability to dodge my internal taskmistress. She’s strict, and has no tolerance for excuses.

Yet, even though I haven’t written much in the last week I’m currently growing a bunch of stories in my mind. The Novel Idea is simmering. A new short story is taking shape. It’s weird, set in a strange place, and the main character is flitting in and out of my periphery imagination all the time. I’m hesitant to write anything down. It feels too early.

There are several other story/script ideas that are jouncing around too. Plus there are the re-writes I want to complete.

I haven’t written out my goals for 2007 formally, and already my dance card is pretty full.

I’ve a lot of new steps to learn.

Tonight I caught a H.P. Lovecraft film adaptation on TV I hadn’t seen before. I’m a sucker for a good occult/monster flick, but I didn’t expect much from The Dunwich Horror (1970). It was directed by Daniel Haller, who was an art and film director for Roger Corman. Much to my surprise Curtis Hanson had a shared screenwriting credit for the film. Sandra Dee plays the virginal blond Nancy Wager who is mesmerised by the staring eyes of a young Dean Stockwell, who plays the alliterated and alienated Wilbur Whateley.

While watching the film I thought Haller must have been a fan of Argento’s Suspiria (1977), but it wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that the reverse must have been true. The Whateley mansion in The Dunwich Horror has fantastic interiors: strong primary colours with kitsch 70s wallpaper and baroque furniture. There’s a cool circular mural in the floor. The whacky grandfather carries around a staff with the same black and white motif. The coloured lighting favours the purple end of the spectrum. When you discover that Haller was the art designer for The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and The Raven (1963) it all becomes clear.

I ended up rather charmed by the film. There’s a lot of heavy breathing, tricks with negative images, unseen chanters in black robes, a monstrous twin, a writhing girl on an altar, and guttural readings from the Necronomicon. And the occasional glimpse of tits – obligatory for a 1970s film. The problem was that I was rooting for Wilbur’s plans to open the mystical gateway that would unleash the Lovecraftian Gods upon the planet. All of the other characters were uninteresting and rather unmemorable. At least Wilbur had a goal, well, an obsession really, and a rather cool set of tattoos.

The Dunwich Horror is now my third favourite Lovecraft adaptation, after Dagon (2000), and The Call of Cthulhu (2005).