Tuesday, June 22, 2010

EYE LOVE(craft) YOU(zna): How to Put the Love Back in Lovecraft

After a long weekend of movie watching and extra hoppy beer drinking I think we need to have a little talk with Brian Yuzna. What's that you say? An interview? Nope. I don't do those, and I most certainly don't have guest appearances on the Blog of Horrors (or at least not yet) because Dr. Terror is, in fact, a loner, a rebel. We need to talk with Brian because we need to know why he felt the need to go full force/balls to the wall Lovecraft, how he did it and why the fuck can't anyone else get this done proper.

-You're Lovecraft Primer

Imagine your Dr. James Terror. Everyone's been telling you for years to watch From Beyond. It's a hot, almost summer evening. You've got two movies to watch. From Beyond and C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers). You pop in From Beyond only to here the name Dr. Pratorius and see H.P. Lovecraft's name in the opening credits. Suddenly you realize you are about to be engaged in a Lovecraft movie. This may not seem in itself shocking, but as soon as you feel a Lovecraft movie coming on, you have got to get your tissue box ready and your vomit bag firmly secured around your neck. Because the movies are so gross? Because you'll be screaming in terror? Nay. Because adapting Lovecraft stories into horror movies is so unsuccessfully done that the genre barely recovers every time one of this schlock pieces of trash are released. Every video store has a line of these DVD's pumped out by semi-minor players in the horror field and when someone rents them, GOOD MOVIES FALL OFF THE SHELF AND DIE!!!

Enter the Yuzna (henceforth to be referred to as "the" Yuzna or the the Yuzna machine or the Yuzna animal). I remember watching Re-animator as a kid. It was on television, cut to shreds and without a single ounce of gore or nudity. For years I simply thought this was a clever movie with mesmerizing luminescent green shit that made dead things come back to life. I guess that's why these movies aren't meant for kids because when you see that puppy with the blood and the boobs reinserted you realize that you have a gross out of mammoth proportions and a scream queen fit to be Linea Quigley.

-The Filmography of Brian Yuzna

So little Jimmy Terror knows Brian Yuzna's name from where if not from Re-animator? I mean until recently I was not a huge Re-animator freak. I mean not as freaky as some and all due to channel WPIX's desire to comply with FCC regulations. The Doc knows the Yuzna from Return of the Living Dead III. Bless that picture. Bless Mindy Clarke and all her sado-mas/bondo/pierce party antics, but I guess that point I would make here is that not having connected the dots, I never realized that the Yuzna animal was a Lovecraft adapting master. Re-animator adapted from Herbert West-Reanimator and From Beyond based on the story From Beyond and of course Necronomicon, The Whispers based on Whispers in the Darkness and the Library which is inclusive of Jeffrey Combs as Lovecraft. It only takes three films to make a film maker the master of Lovecraft adaptation.

-House of Horror presents Re-animator
-Re-Animator Trailer
-From Beyond Trailer
-Necronomicon Trailer

Yuzna = Lovecraft + Strange Light sources + Jeffrey Combs + Gore Gross out. I'm pretty sure that's the formula to make a Yuzna. His adaptations are matter of fact as if the stories were ordinary every day occurrences. You've got a doctor that experiments on dead folks and reanimates them as if he were microwaving popcorn. Then there's a lab student who thinks that the pineal gland is as common a body part as the foot or hand. Finally, we've got Lovecraft running around as a modern Indiana Jones and a pregnant woman who "casually" accepts her fate as an alien creature.

Is there parable in Yuzna's adaptations? That the weird is all around you. Accept it and move on. Realize that the dead body you see today may be reanimated tomorrow. That science and the evolution of the human species is as normal as the food pyramid. The parable probably is that if you see Jeffrey Combs, it's probably too late (further reinforced by The Frighteners).

-H.P. Lovecraft Adaptations

How many bad Lovecraft adaptations have you seen as a horror movie maniac? I mean not bad adaptations because none of them get it right, right? You always see the monster. None of them are dark enough. Some of them are designed to make you think you're in Gothic England rather than early 20th Century New England. I think that most of the characters in H.P. adaptations talk too much. Adapters/writers try to use the inner dialogue/narrative in your typical Lovecraft story and put it into the words of the protagonist. Show, don't tell! That's why Brian Yuzna succeeds. His vision of Lovecraft may not be spot on. He may bring it all into the modern world and he may show you EVER GOREY DETAIL INCLUDING THE MONSTER!!! But Brian Yuzna knows how to creep you out by letting you drift into madness... an ordinary madness, a common place world of the demented.

-From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft
-Herbert West- Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft

Go watch Lurking Fear again if you don't believe me. Go watch the Unnameable or the Unnameable II (part II... 2 as in there's a sequel... sequel to WHAT!?). The Dunwich Horror... hardly Horror!

So after watching From Beyond, C.H.U.D. ends up putting me to sleep which is so not like me. C.H.U.D., classic 80's schlock, should not put the Doc to sleep. He has Valium for that. From what I can tell there was a certain amount of emotional strain induced by From Beyond. Same thing happened after watching Re-animator at Exhumed Films 24 Hour Marathon last year. It's morning. A beautiful morning after a night of Giallo, monster island horrors, Roger Corman mysteries and a viewing of Creepshow that was like morphine to this Romero junkie. And then there was Re-animator. My eyes bugging from their sockets, red and my heart, over-caffeinated and pumping violently...

-C.H.U.D. Trailer
-Exhumed Films!!!
-2009 Exhumed Marathon Movie List

Jeff Combs disturbed me. I mean he's one disturbing, nervous tick. Disturbed me so bad that I got lost on the way home from Philadelphia and ended up taking the long way through Eastern Pennsylvania's semi-ghetto. Blame it on the Rockstar energy beverages. Blame it on the lack of sleep (although I managed to get some during Lady Terminator). I'm blaming this one on Brian Yuzna, animal, emotional drainer, Wizard of Lovecraft.

-Jeffrey Combs Interview
-Dr. Jeff's Resume

I'm not going to pretend like I've watched every Lovecraft movie. I had to stop. Every time I would find an "In the Mouth of Madness" I would find something more abysmal... It was heartbreaking. I still want to grab the movie Dagon and watch the hell out of it but haven't. I just can't bring myself to be disappointed by another failed attempt.

-In the Mouth of Madness Trailer

And I'll leave you with this my horror cuties and terror cuddlies... that Exhumed 24 Hour Marathon in Philly had piles of short film laid delicately between features like mortar between bricks. Everything from the best horror trailers to old TV shows (Night Gallery, fools!). None quite captured the spirit of the festival at 3am like The Music of Erich Zann. Short film. Creepy. Showed you the barest of color wheel generated effects and haunted you with ... very little. Dialogue kept to a min. No blood. No gore. No name actors. Music that hinted at the strange. Effects that left a sleepy mind full of imagination.

-The Music of Erich Zann by H.P. Lovecraft
-Stop Motion Erich Zann... Sweetness!!!
-Erich Zann Amateur Film pt. 1
-Erich Zann Amateur Film pt. 2

The good ones are out there. Find 'em! Tell 'em Yuzna sent you (or the Wizard of Lovecraft whichever gets you in for free).

-The Strange Case of James Patrick Terror

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