Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dreams in the Witch House and Robert Suydam

A commission I did for a student film inspired by the Lovecraft story. I had fun working on this one, especially the design of the poster. In reality Dreams in the Witch House is really the only story by Lovecraft that freaking creeped me out to no end; it's this blackly-dismal story of a helpless student who is perpetually harassed by horrendous supernatural forces well beyond his control, and who wish for him to join in their unspeakable horrors. 

I would personally declare that this is Lovecraft's blackest story, with other dark stories, like Cthulhu or Colour, actually having a sort of descriptive or conceptual beauty or wonder to them; whereas this story is to me his most horrifically dreary in its systematical destruction of Gilman's sanity, though there is a bit of wonder in the concept of Gilman being physically pulled to a specific point in space—that scene left me genuinely awestruck. 

I have a bizarre fascination with The Horror at Red Hook. Perhaps it's the pulpy, noir nature of the story, or perhaps it's Lovecraft's powerful description of 1920's Brooklyn--or both--but I keep getting drawn back to its story, its environs and its characters. 

Suydam is a curious character, and even more curious for the fact I have no information as to what his inspiration was, as Joshi in his extensive biography gives no mention, only going into detail about the character of Malone, who in Lovecraft's context is himself a fascinating persona. Was Suydam based on an actual person Lovecraft saw in Brooklyn, or perhaps a character from one of the infinitesimal pulps he read as a youth/young man? Maybe we'll never know. 

I find it fascinating that, today, we'd look at the character of Suydam as this open-minded urbanite, ahead of his time in his thinking; this contrasts sharply with Lovecraft in his day, with his prejudiced stance, and who could only look with disdain and horror at this member of the noble Danish race denigrating himself by associating himself with the untermensch of urban American society. Juxtapositions like that that explore America's ever changing philosophies, moralities and perspectives have always fascinated me to no end.

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