Friday, June 6, 2014

My Lovecraftian Journey - The Beast in the Cave

I'm not a huge reader of books, but I was enthralled by this beautiful (and affordable) hardback of H.P. Lovecraft - The Complete Fiction at Barnes and Noble:

What I find most interesting about Lovecraft is his influence on so many writers and directors of the horror genre.  Lovecraft was influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn, inspired Stephen King.  This lineage of literary greats reminds me of the cinematic legacy spanning from Hitchcock, to DePalma, to Tarantino.  So that I can become a little more "cultured," I plan to give a summary of each Lovecraft tale I read.  Hopefully I can talk about any influences that have transpired, whether its in television, music, or film. 

To start things off, the first tale I read was "The Beast in the Cave (1905)."  The story begins with a man getting lost in the Mammoth Cave.  As our narrator searches for the rest of his tour group, his torch slowly dims away.  Having visited this National Park myself when I was a little kid, I can just image how terrifying it would be getting lost in a world of pure darkness.  Once all of his visibility disappeared, he hears footsteps of a "beast" following close behind.  Feeling for weapons around him, he flings two stones at the beast which is stalking him.  Successfully landing a blind throw at the monster, our narrator runs away and luckily meets up with his tour group.  Explaining his situation to the tour guide, the group decides to search for the monster that's lurking in the caves.  As they retrace the narrator's trail, they see a pale and hairy figure lying on the ground.  As they take a closer look at the body, they discover it was really a man!
Even at the beginning of the 20th century, Lovecraft alluded to creatures adapting to strange environments.  Just as naked mole rats have evolved to live in their pitch black surroundings, Lovecraft imagined human civilizations surviving in blind conditions.  When I associate this tale to film, The Descent comes to mind.  Although I'm certain better films have displayed this theme, The Descent is a modern horror classic that depicts an unknown (yet horrific) civilization living in the vast darkness.

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