We end our discussion of Michel Houellebecq's "H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life" by covering our favorite part of the book, a mini-biography of H.P Lovecraft that could make even the most ardent Lovecraft-hater out there at least somewhat sympathetic to the man (or at least pity him), and provides some extreme cringe at Lovecraft's disastrous attempts to get an office job. This mini biography attempts to connect Lovecraft's rapid descent into poverty while in New York, and the hatred and fear it engendered within him, with the power and prose of his later, more mature works.
We discussed "H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life" for so long that we had to divide the conversation into three episodes. So enjoy this middle chapter, where Houellebecq discusses . . . architecture (?), why everything is disgusting and Lovecraft's use of sensory overload, Lovecraft's protagonists, and Houellebecq's cognitive dissonance, where he praises Lovecraft's scientific realism while maintaining Lovecraft . . .avoided realism? How does that work? Come join us!
The duo covers the first half of Michel Houellebecq’s sympathetic yet critical essay on H.P. Lovecraft, which has the not-at-all hyperbolic-yet-awesome title of ‘H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life.“ We learn a little a bit about Lovecraft’s "technical assault” against the reader, his hatred of “life and "the real,” and his nostalgia for a bygone childhood. Stephen King’s uses his introduction to question some of the premises of the essay but introduces his own goofy theories about Lovecraft. Come join us and discuss!
Derek is in New York as the duo ramble about some horror movies and works. Please note that no preparation at all went into this episode, so don’t just us TOO harshly. We go over Halloween and Halloween II (which Derek had never even seen before, that slacker); Hereditary, which is the SCARIEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME OHMYGOD (until A24 needs to get more asses in seats for the next SCARIEST FILM EVER); the interesting play YERMA, about a woman obsessed with having a child; the new season of Channel Zero, the Roger-Ebert-approved Exorcism of Emily Rose, and well-reviewed duds like CARGO and LITTLE EVIL, which again demonstrates that critics cannot be trusted (except us, of course, we never steer ya wrong).
It’s Halloween in the Summer. The duo finish their discussion of Lisa Morton’s “Trick of Treat: A History of Halloween,“ by discussing the Halloween traditions of other countries and the influential poetry and literature of Halloween. In the Ukraine, pumpkins are seen as a bad omen. And, this might be a shocker, but that guy Hugo Chavez, not a big fan of the American tradition: I mean, it’s tough to TP houses when there’s no more TP in the whole country, right?
It's Halloween in the Summer. The duo discusses the first half of "Lisa Morton's Trick of Treat: A History of Halloween," which reads a bit more like a collection of Wikipedia articles than a book. The duo covers Samhain, faulty histories and the Celts, violent Halloween games, urban legends, and the origins of several Irish stereotypes.
Join the duo as they discuss Razorback, the piece de resistance of Giant Killer Animal Month, which Google succinctly summarizes as “a big Australian pig attacks an old man, grabs a baby and kills a newswoman; her husband investigates.” Not wrong, but that description leaves out the wonderfully bizarre, Dali-esque landscapes, the ‘Wake in Fright / Mad Max’ levels of Ozsploitation, the 'Straw Dogs’ vibe of rural townies v. educated out-of-towners, and the glowing lights….all those glowing lights!
The duo discuss the 1980 film "Alligator" about - you guessed it - a giant alligator. Particularly, they discuss why this film generally works, from John Sayles' better-than-it-needs-to-be script, to Lewis Teague's competent if workmanlike direction, to the man himself Robert Forster's lovable Chicago cop David Madison, which was the inspiration for the character Robert Forster played in Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown." (Seriously) But let's not overstate things, here: this is still a shlocky b-movie, albeit a fun one. Come have a listen!
The duo watch "Orca," the 1977 film that tried to beat Jaws at its own aquatic-killer game. Not only is the killer whale more dangerous and fearsome than the great white shark, it can read blue prints, understands how flammables work, never forgets a face, has an unquenchable thirst for revenge, and can rub in a victory by flopping out of the water and wagging its tail at you. Too bad orca whales look so wholesome and cute, kind of undermines the whole fear factor. Join us as we discuss ancient native mysticism and the words professors could say in the 1970s that they definitely couldn't say today!
The duo kick of Giant Animals Attack month with the 1976 horror film “Grizzly,” which is essentially a beat-for-beat remake of “Jaws,” with a cuddly big bear instead of a shark. If “Jaws” proved to everyone that an elevated b-movie could earn respect and acclaim, “Grizzly” showed everyone that an inferior knockoff can at least make a lot of money. The duo also discuss the frenzied career of director and all-around indie film hustler William Girdler, who banged out 9 ripoff films (including Grizzly) in only six years before ripping off Lynyrd Skynyrd and dying in a plane crash.
The duo finishes the 1842 horror novella The Black Spider, by Jeremias Gothelf. We got a mischevious black spider who likes to troll his victims and stare “balefully” at anyone and everyone, fairweather religionists more concerned with stylish rosary beads than saving their souls, “bestiality and wantonness that oversteps all bounds,” and uncomfortable dinner table lessons. Come have a listen!
The duo discuss the first half of the 1842 novella The Black Spider, by Swiss pastor Jeremias Gotthelf, which is many things: a Christian allegory about good and evil, a "deal with the Devil" narrative, a "monster on the loose" story, a dissection of Crowd Mentality, and (arguably) a precursor to Lovecraftian cosmic horror. We both enjoy the first half while debating the Lovecraft connection. You can't help but enjoy a novella that features both “lusty crows dancing nuptial roundelays" and "in her face labor pains began such as no woman on earth has ever known."
Join our duo as they take a break from podcasting work to aimlessly pontificate on a variety of subjects not worthy of a full episode, from films such as Annihilation (2018), Raw (2016), The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016), and Cloverfield Paradox (no year, as this movie is timeless); video games such as Resident Evil 7, television shows like The X-Files, novels such as William Sloane's "The Edge of Running Water," and Brett Easton Ellis' "Lunar Park," and collections of freely available podcasts lazily transcribed into book format aka The Lore book(s).
The duo discuss the effective, underseen deep-in-the-woods 1981 slasher film "Just Before Dawn" and all the juicy behind-the-scenes sniping between the writer and the director. Lost snake rituals, deranged slobs, lazy park rangers, and are college kids and rural hillbillies really so different in ways of the heart? Find out!
The duo cover the 1980 psychological horror film Fade to Black, which, while not a slasher film per se, has the structure of a slasher film. It’s slasher-adjacent, let’s say that much. This film follows the misadventures of Eric Binford, aka cinephile Travis Bickle, as he kills those who have wronged him while impersonating his favorite movie characters, kind of a non-supernatural Pennywise with a chip on his shoulder. Derek and J.R. debate the effectiveness of the film, while both agreeing that the misadventures of concerned psychologist Dr. Moriarty, who excuses every murder with an “Oh he’s just a confused kid, movies these days!” is a terrible but hilarious subplot.
The duo kick off Slasher Month with the Pride of Norwegian Horror: the 2006 slasher film Cold Prey. (Do note, though: Norwegians are not a prideful people). In Norway, no matter how deserted an arctic mountain may appear, rest assured that you can always find some creepy abandoned shelter that houses a killer. And if you are really unlucky, that killer might have an extremely mild facial deformity!
The duo basically do a “Hardcore History” on the polarizing film Cthulhu (2007). We assure you, no podcast has ever dedicated this much time to this film. We discuss its origins, its many abandoned subplots, the backstage drama, and how it essentially bankrupted its writer and ruined the nascent Seattle film industry. But strangely, we come not to bury it, but to understand and maybe even appreciate what this ambitious but misguided first feature was trying to do.
We complete our discussion of the rapturously received, 2016 novella “Ballad of Black Tom,” which re-purposes Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” with the social justice, Nation of Islam-inspired “white people be devils” perspective that’s all the rage with the NPR set. Which would all be fine with us, honestly, if the prose style wasn’t so flat, declarative and boring that this novella reads like the SparkNotes to a more interesting book. The last half even manages to make shoot outs boring.
Join us as we begin our discussion on the rapturously received, 2016 novella “Ballad of Black Tom,” which re-purposes Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” with the social justice, Nation of Islam-inspired “white people be devils” perspective that’s all the rage with the NPR set. Which would all be fine with us, honestly. if the prose style wasn’t so flat, declarative and boring that this novella reads like the SparkNotes to a more interesting book. And to our dismay, Cthulhu was not replaced with Yakub.
The duo finish their Mike Flanagan round-up with "Before I Wake," the filmed-in-2013-but-released-in 2018, PG-13 "supernatural drama" about a young boy who can manifest his boring, uninspiring, butterfly-heavy dreams into reality. And you got to love those dated Nintendo Wii references, which was the hot new thing when this movie was filmed back in 2013. This movie's so old that Flanagan's first wife Courtney Bell is still in it, back when they were on speaking terms, although she plays a dying person, which perhaps provided Flanagan the closure he needed to move on to his younger, more conventionally attractive second wife Kate Siegel, who went on to feature in all of his subsequent movies. What a guy!