HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE FROZEN KINGDOM
We have seen some eccentric and offbeat Lovecraft-based films in the last few years fan efforts such as The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulu (2009) and Call Girl of Cthulu (2014). Of these, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is one of the strangest. There have been several works that imagine the real-world Lovecraft in a series of fictional adventures Lovecrafts Book (1986) by Richard Lupoff and the films Cast and Deadly Spell (1991) and Necronomicon (1993). Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom imagines Lovecraft as a child travelling to his own creation of the kingdom of Ryleh (although Lovecraft had Ryleh located in the South Pacific whereas the film imagines it as a frozen kingdom).
The film is based on a trilogy of graphic novels created by Sean Patrick OReilly, a Canadian comic-book artist who manages the British Columbia-based Arcana Studios. The original graphic novels consist of Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom (2009), Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom (2011) and Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness (2013). Since 2010, Arcana has maintained its own animation division where they have also produced an animated film based on OReillys The Clockwork Girl (2014) and OReilly has directed the animated Pixies (2015), as well as various other short works.
The idea of an H.P. Lovecraft childrens film leaves you doing a double-take. Lovecrafts protagonists are occult adventurers, scientists and questors after forbidden knowledge. Their experience with that which lies beyond is never a good one for them and the typical Lovecraft protagonist is usually left insane by the encounter at the end of the story. None of this sits easily with what is essentially an animated childrens film featuring a pre-adolescent protagonist. The films Lovecraft is conceived as a variant on the animation standard of the kid with no friends indeed, he is more akin to Little Nemo in Slumberland than a standard Lovecraft hero. The childrens film focus does mean that some of the Lovecraftian creatures tend to get watered down. The creatures of the Frozen Castle look like cut-price versions of the Little Green Men from the Toy Story films. The squid-faced Thu Thu Hmong ends up becoming the equivalent of the big ungainly puppy in a boy and his dog relationship Lovecraft would probably be turning in his grave at the scenes where it and the films Howard have a snowball fight. The film is also produced with limited animation, which weakens the film considerably, not to mention fails to do justice to the fine artwork of the original graphic novels.
Other films based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft include:- The Haunted Palace (1963), Die, Monster, Die/Monster of Terror (1965), The Shuttered Room (1966) and The Dunwich Horror (1969). The big success in the modern era was Stuart Gordons splattery black comedy version of Re-Animator (1985), which popularised Lovecraft on film. This led to a host of B-budget Lovecraft adaptations, including Stuart Gordons subsequent From Beyond (1986), The Curse (1987), The Unnameable (1988), The Resurrected (1992), Necronomicon (1993), The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993), Lurking Fear (1994), Gordons Dagon (2001), and other works such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (2003), Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006), Cool Air (2006), Chill (2007), Cthulu (2007), The Tomb (2007), Colour from the Dark (2008), The Dunwich Horror (2009), Pickmans Muse (2010) and The Whisperer in Darkness (2011). Also of interest is The Manitou (1978), which features an appearance of the Great Old One; Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) and its sequel Witch Hunt (1994), a tv movie set in an alternate world where magic works and where the central character is a detective named H.P. Lovecraft; Juan Piquer Simons cheap and loosely inspired Cthulu Mansion (1992); John Carpenters Lovecraft homage In the Mouth of Madness (1995); the fan parodies The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulu (2009) and Call Girl of Cthulu (2014); while the Elder Gods turn up at the end of The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Lovecrafts key work of demonic lore The Necronomicon also makes appearances in films such as Equinox (1970), The Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), and was also borrowed as an alternate retitling for Jesus Francos surreal and otherwise unrelated Succubus/Necronomicon (1969) about a BDSM dancer.