Howard Phillip Lovecraft knew madness from an early age. As a young boy, he saw his father shipped off to a mental institution, and his own existence was plagued by frequent bouts of childhood illness and crippling anxiety which followed him into adulthood. The one saving grace in his life was his attraction to the craft of storytelling, a gift that would fail to reap many financial rewards for him in his lifetime, but would effectively shape the world of horror writing forever more after his death.
Today, H.P. Lovecraft, as he is most commonly known, stands as one of the true giants in all of literature, and his work has inspired generations of aspiring authors, filmmakers and other creative talents who embrace the darkest corners of existence. The revealing documentary Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown pays loving tribute to the continuing legacy of this great writer with the assistance of many key artists who remain inspired by him to this day.
Lovecraft’s distinctive work creates “a very complex inbreeding of mythologies,” according to filmmaker and interview subject Guillermo del Toro. “What the pitch would be is that things much older than mankind, much older than Earth, look upon us with indifference and cruelty.” Other distinguished panelists, including filmmakers John Carpenter and Stuart Gordon, and authors Peter Straub and Neil Gaiman, also offer valuable contributions in portraying Lovecraft as both a man and an artist.
Profoundly gifted, yet deeply insecure of his creative abilities, Lovecraft carved a unique niche among writers of the day. His writing is characterized by an almost ethereal articulation of ambience and mood, and an entirely new mythos of his own creation. Hiding in plain sight beneath his otherworldly settings, mythical beasts and monsters, and characters who cannot escape from the darkness of their pasts, lies a vivid portrait of the man himself.
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown plumbs these depths and much more. In the end, however, the lasting appeal of Lovecraft may be whittled down to one essential factor. “It’s really creepy stuff,” filmmaker John Carpenter confesses. “It really gets under your skin.”