H.P. Lovecraft goes indie in a double feature

While I’ve never been a Lovecraft, I’ve always been a huge fan of schlocky 1980s movies loosely based on his works. So my feelings about this two films from the new millennium pretty much make total sense.

THE SHUNNED HOUSE (2003)

shunned house cover

I’ve seen such original comments about Lovecraft turning over in his grave because of this movie, but I say it must be doing something right, because I just couldn’t get into it. Of course, I’m really not the person to comment on its Lovecred. Hell, from what I’ve read, it actually combines three of his stories, but be damned if any of them was familiar to me, despite me having fought my way through his complete works at some point in my life.

shunned house girl

Honestly, my biggest issue with the film is that it chooses to just randomly and rapidly cycle through three different stories with no rhyme or reason. We have a paranormal journalist and his girlfriend entering a house in which murders have taken place in the past. As they tour the creepy place, we jump to a brief scene of a mathematician from the past. Then we jump to a writer from the past. Then we’re back to the journalist. Rinse and repeat.

shunned house math

All three stories takes place in the house, and we get little snippets of each unfolding plot as we hop from one to the next. Basically, the leading man in each story spirals into madness. Sounds Lovecraftian to me. Eventually, we learn the unifying factor behind all their descents.

shunned house hang
This dude is well hung.

While this simply isn’t my kind of film, I don’t understand why it gets bashed for its low budget. The grittiness totally works – the look and tone are foreboding, the imagery is stark and creepy, and the film moves into grisly gory territory by the end.

shunned house violin

Personally, I think fans of Lovecraft and independent film probably should give it a try, if for no other reason than to have the opportunity to write a comment online about Lovecraft turning over in his grave.

ARKHAM SANITARIUM: SOUL EATER (2014)

arkham sanitarium cover

So glad I have no loyalty to the purity of H.P. Lovecraft, because this is one of few found footage films I can say truly fucking rox. I had no idea what I was in for, so I was thrilled it was only 72 minutes long. That is until it was over, at which point I kind of wished it had at least another 20 minutes to deliver.

Truth is, while the film begins as generically as a found footage film can—a trio of paranormal investigators enters an old sanitarium with their cameras—it eventually flips the bird to the genre, turning into a total exploitation horror comedy.

arkham sanitarium found footage

The trio is investigating the story of a sex and death Lovecraft cult rumored to have done horrible things to patients in the sanitarium. After some typical exploratory found footage crap, one of the three investigators suddenly becomes possessed! There are demons hamming it up for the camera, ghosts, a big guy in chains and a Cthulhu mask, odd claymation flashes, and an entire fricking cult. We also get perfectly snarky mockery of the typical found footage final frame, plus a tag to keep the insanity going a little longer.

arkham sanitarium monsters

But most importantly, there’s a horny octopus that likes to face fuck people.

arkham sanitarium girl

It’s especially meaningfully to me because to ensure easy access, the octopus uses an oral contraption not unlike the one used on flesh-hungry children living in the walls in my novel No Place for Little Ones.

no place for little ones

Oh how I wish there had been more than three main characters in this film, because I can’t get enough of the face-fucking octopus.

arkham sanitarium stud
I’d so octopus this guy’s face. I’d octopus it hard.

I also can’t get enough of actor Shannon Brown (Marked, Feast 2014, Halloweed) who scores an immediate place on my list of favorite scream kings. He plays an arrogant, aggressive ghost hunter that wants to be famous.

arkham sanitarium jerk
I’m NOT Jimmy Kimmel.

He’s offensive and gleefully inappropriate and would sell his soul to the devil to make it big…which is the perfect attitude to have in Arkham Sanitarium. I’m so adding this one to my DVD collection.

arkham sanitarium oct

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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