Sonntag, 26. August 2012

THE LURKING FEAR and other Stories
By H. P. Lovecraft
Ballantine Books. Sixth Printing. November 1975. $1.50
·         The Lurking Fear
·         Dagon
·         Beyond the Wall of Sleep
·         The White Ship
·         Arthur Jermyn
·         From Beyond
·         The Temple
·         The Moon-Bog
·         The Hound
·         The Unnamable
·         The Outsider
·         The Shadow Over Innsmouth

 My copy.


Hey all!
I took off from posting anything last week since it was too hot to do any thinking or typing.
And now I’m being lazy this week since I’m on 2 weeks vacation and I picked a book from my collection whose stories I know by heart.

 And before I forget……..


HPL’s birthday was on the 20th of August.


So this week’s book is one of my most favourite HPL collections. It’s “The Lurking Fear and other Stories”. I own the old Ballantine edition from 1975. This is one of the uniform editions that Ballantine was putting out in the middle 1970s with the very odd “John Holmes” covers. I’m not the biggest Holmes fan, but these were at lest recognizable from a mile away as Lovecraft books and I did own every single one. Mr. Holmes also did quite a few covers back then for horror anthology paperbacks in the UK. I can even remember when I first bought this edition (not the one I currently own though.). I was in my sophomore year at High School and I was nerd enough to get sent down to Cincinnati to attend a Current Affairs Conference for youth. I hated the conference, met a girl and found this book. And as Meat Loaf once said, "2 out of 3 aint bad".

Now let’s take a look at the stories.

·         The Lurking Fear
This one is great fun. It has all of those characteristics we’ve come to love in HPL stories.
We have…
An Intrepid Investigator posing as a reporter.
Lot’s of gory deaths. (Faces chewed off ect.)
Panicky inbred yokels.
Ancient family secrets.
Lots of stormy nights.
And a subterranean army of inbred cannibal troglodytes!
It seems that something is terrorizing the backwoods populace of rural upstate New York and it all seems to be stemming from the mansion of an old Dutch family who disappeared over a century ago. Whatever it is that is devouring the local populace only attacks during violent thunderstorms. One the storms pass the attackers disappear until the next storm. What has all of this to do with the vanished Martense family of Tempest Mountain? Read the story and find out! You won’t be sorry!
Here’s one of my all time favourite HPL passages….

     “Then came the devastating stroke of lightning which shook the whole mountain, lit the darkest crypts of the hoary grove, and splintered the patriarch of the twisted trees. In the daemon flash of a monstrous fireball the sleeper started up suddenly while the glare from beyond the window threw his shadow vividly upon the chimney above the fireplace from which my eyes had never strayed. That I am still alive and sane, is a marvel I cannot fathom. I cannot fathom it, for the shadow on that chimney was not that of George Bennett or of any other human creature, but a blasphemous abnormality from hell’s nethermost craters; a nameless, shapeless abomination which no mind could fully grasp and no pen even partly describe. In another second I was alone in the accursed mansion, shivering and gibbering. George Bennett and William Tobey had left no trace, not even of a struggle. They were never heard of again.“

Damn, that’s’ good stuff!

I guess that this can be considered one of the very earliest of Mr. Lovecraft’s “Mythos” stories.
A sailor is stranded on a desert Island that has been raised by an undersea earthquake. He goes exploring and finds out that man isn’t the only intelligent species above or below the waves. There isn’t really any plot here, but I still find this to be carried to heights of genius just by it’s atmosphere alone. 

     I can’t decide if this counts as part of his Dreamland cycle or not.  An inmate of an Insane Asylum, yes they were called that back then, recounts his experiences in another world of dreams. This is more fantasy than horror, but a nice story none the less.

     This is Mr. Lovecraft at his poetic best. A lonely lighthouse keeper is taken aboard a magical white ship. He travels with the crew beyond the horizon into the world of dreams and beyond. Because the light house keeper can’t be satisfied with the beauty being offered to him he convinces the ship’s Captain to travel even farther still, which only leads to tragic results. I find “The White Ship” to be a simply beautiful piece of writing that impresses me every time I read it.

“Arthur Jermyn” is another of those HPL stories that are so over the top crazy that it has to be read to be believed.
Here’s what we get.
Mad British explores.
Lost African cities.
A sub-human race.
Colonial oppression.
Dark family secrets.
Self immolation on the moors
And… (Drum Roll please)………..
I don’t want to give away too much of what happens in this story, but I will say that the monkey sex angle is driving me crazy. I only have one question and it’s “WHY????” and of course “WTF????”.
I mean, I don’t give a damn how racist people were back then. This just doesn’t make any sense.
Unless part of it went like this…
“So, what’s with this monkey sex shit?”
“I mean, you have a whole continent full of awesome lightly clad Nubian babes and you just have to get it on with the monkey woman?”
”Oh!! She Was a WHITE monkey woman and a princess!!”
“Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place”. “That explains everything!!”
     I dunno, maybe it really did go that way. People were pretty odd back then.

This is a really cool idea. A machine emits vibrations that let’s you see what’s going on around us in the other dimensions that we aren’t aware of. The problem is, what you see can also see you. And what can see you can also eat you!

     “The Temple” is one of those kinds of stories that give me the fits. A German U-Boot is trapped at the bottom of the Atlantic off of the Bahamas. Seem these were some awfully mean subjects of the Kaiser who sent to many innocents to their watery deaths. Now they seem to be haunted by a drowned youth who swims around the crippled sub inviting the to take a walk on the ocean floor one by one so they can pay a visit to a strangely lit temple that happens to also be on the bottom of the sea. This is why submarines don’t have screen windows.

If you want to rebuild a ruined castle by that happens to be next to a haunted swamp don’t make things worse by draining the swamp!
I love this story. It’s short, simple and has one terribly scary ending. At least I find the ending to be terribly frightening.

   The Hound
You have to decide. This is either HPL at his purple prosed best or worst. I understand he wasn’t very fond of it him self. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
     Two jaded grave robbers travel the world seeking tombs containing ancient secrets to plunder.
Sadly they defile one grave too many and the Wizard currently occupying it takes it extremely personal!
Hilarity concerning a demonic hound then ensues!
Here’s’ one of my favourites quotes from the story….

    “ I cannot reveal the details of our shocking expeditions, or catalogue even partly the worst of the trophies adorning the nameless museum we prepared in the great stone house where we jointly dwelt, alone and servantless. Our museum was a blasphemous, unthinkable place, where with the satanic taste of neurotic virtuosi we had assembled an universe of terror and decay to excite our jaded sensibilities. It was a secret room, far, far underground; where huge winged daemons carven of basalt and onyx vomited from wide grinning mouths weird green and orange light, and hidden pneumatic pipes ruffled into kaleidoscopic dances of death the lines of red charnel things hand in hand woven in voluminous black hangings. Through these pipes came at will the odours our moods most craved; sometimes the scent of pale funeral lilies, sometimes the narcotic incense of imagined Eastern shrines of the kingly dead, and sometimes—how I shudder to recall it!—the frightful, soul-upheaving stenches of the uncovered grave.”

“The Unnamable” should have actually been titled “The Indescribable”. Two friends spend way too much time hanging around in graveyards and abandoned houses looking into old legends. Too bad for them that they finally run into the “Unnamable”!

“Good God, Manton, but what was it? Those scars—was it like that?”
      And I was too dazed to exult when he whispered back a thing I had half expected—
      “No—it wasn’t that way at all. It was everywhere—a gelatin—a slime—yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory. There were eyes—and a blemish. It was the pit—the maelstrom—the ultimate abomination.
Carter, it was the unnamable!”

Like I said before. It’s actually the „Indescribable“ that they run afoul of.

This is another goodie! A fellow who has lived his entire life alone in a huge mansion surrounded by a dark forrest climbs all the way up to the top of the house through the attic. He finds another door in the roof of the attic and climbs through it only to find himself emerging from a crypt in a cemetery. Sadly he crashes a party and looks in a mirror.

“The (weird) Shadow over Innsmouth” has to definitely be in the HPL top five.
This is the one Lovecraft story that newbies need to read to be able to “get” the entire HPL thingy. “Innsmouth” is suspenseful, well written, tightly plotted and pretty much covers the entire “Cthulhu Mythos” concept. I’m of the opinion that this is even a better story than “The Call of Cthulhu”.  And this time we get sex with fish people!

I’ve linked every story to an online version. So if you don’t want to purchase any books you can still read all of these wonderful stories on-line.

All of the stories are still in print. I feel that the “Wordsworth” editions are the best buy since they only cost about 5 bucks a volume! And each “Wordsworth” volume has hundreds of pages of HPL goodness.  So just go to Amazon and search for H. P. Lovecraft. The Penguin editions aren’t bad either. They cost more though. I even think that the Ballantine editions are a good bargain if they weren’t printed with such thin flimsy covers.

So thanks for stopping by!

Take care!



  1. So “The Unnamable” is about a creature that can't be described.

    Didn't they make a movie of it? How does THAT work??

  2. Hi Mike,
    Actualy, the film didn't work! It was pretty lame. Not that that stopped them from making a 2nd part though! :-)

    Seriously, the Monster in the film was your run of the mill "Euro-babe" in a suit.

    Take care.

  3. Der Kommentar wurde von einem Blog-Administrator entfernt.

  4. Der Kommentar wurde von einem Blog-Administrator entfernt.