Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hidden Horrors: Nightmares Revisited

By Brian M. Sammons

From the start the goal of Hidden Horrors has been to shine a weak and feeble light on the hideous horrors in the dark that I felt all horrorheads should become better acquainted with. Sounds, sights, stuff to read, wear, and collect, whatever strikes my fear fancy is what I will always talk about here. However, sometimes, right after I cover one aspect of horror goodness, I become aware of something else that I also should have mentioned, if only I had known of it a few weeks, perhaps just a few days, earlier. That is what this month’s HH is all about, those things I just missed covering, but those things that are too cool not to cover as soon as humanly possible. So consider this a scary scattershot of delightfully frightful things that range widely, but all have the highest quality in common.

The very first Hidden Horrors I ever did was about fearful treats for the ears. Well since then I have become aware of two more aural delights of darkness that need illumination. Furthermore, both relate directly to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, so Cthulhu cultists rejoice, you’re about to get a double dose of mythos goodness.

First let me tell you of my new weekly addiction, THE H. P. LOVECRAFT LITERARY PODCAST, which you can find at Words are not enough to express how much I love this podcast. Interpretive dance might do my deep feelings for it justice, but since you can’t see that, I guess words will have to do. The HPLLP (as I call it) is the Lovecraftian lovechild of two HPL fanatics, Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer. What they got into their warped minds to do was a weekly podcast where they would discuss each and every story Lovecraft ever wrote in the order in which he wrote them. Now if that was all there was to this, it would still be a very fine podcast, a little dry probably, but fine. However, what these two produce consistently, week after week, is nothing less than pure Innsmouth Gold (HPL-heads will get that, the rest of you…probably not).

Chris and Chad discuss each story both great insight and (thankfully) humor. You can tell that not only are these two good friends, which makes for easy, lighthearted conversations between them, but they're also true fans of HPL. And like true fans, they can geek out over some things, yet still point out the flaws and foibles of Lovecraft without it ever dampening their obvious appreciation for the man’s work. In addition to well thought out, and funny discussions between these two, they often have guests join them in their critical analysis. Like such big names in the Cthulhu world as Kenneth Hite, S.T. Joshi, and even RE-ANIMATOR director, Stuart Gordon. As if that wasn’t enough, each podcast has selected passages from the story in question read, and often acted out, by a variety of actors, Lovecraft fans, and people with just plain old nice sounding voices. Oh, and did I mention that the dramatic readings are accompanied by thoroughly spooky mood music? Well, they are.

Again, let me stress how much I love this weekly show. It’s both hilarious and scholarly (a very rare combination), it’s about one of my favorite authors, the production values are sky high, there are often guest stars that I want to know more about, oh, and one more thing; IT’S ALL FOR FREE!

That’s right, hours and hours of entertainment (as they are currently up to their 50th podcast) all for free.

So if you are a fan of HPL, someone who’s heard of the Great Gentleman from Providence, but have never read his storie,s and often wondered what all the fuss was about, or you just like entertaining podcasts, in general, then you simple must go to THE H. P. LOVECRAFT LITERARY PODCAST and fill your iPod with eldritch horrors man was never meant to know. Go now, Great Cthulhu commands it!

Another great auditory treat for Lovecraft-o-philes comes from the H.P. LOVECRAFT HISTORICAL SOCIETY, or the HPLHS. These are the same creative geniuses that brought out the wonderful black and white, not to mention silent, CALL OF CTHULHU movie back in 2005 and will soon unleash upon an unsuspecting world another HPL inspired film, THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS. Well when they are not busy making movies, the HPLHS is bust making some truly gorgeous art and props for Lovecraft collectors and those who play the CALL OF CTHULHU game. When they are not busy doing that, they make t-shirts, mugs, hats, and idols of evil alien gods. And somehow, in the midst of all that, these crazily creative cultists managed to bring out four truly awesome radio plays based on four of Lovecraft’s best stories.

Called the DARK ADVENTURE RADIO THEATER, these four CDs cover the HPL stories of “At the Mountains of Madness”, “Shadow of Innsmouth”, “Shadow out of Time” and “The Dunwich Horror”. Each is a fully acted out radio play, the kind you could imagine Lovecraft himself listening to back in the “good old days”, with music, and sound effects. The presentation is complete with an announcer/host at the beginning and end of each story, and humorous sponsor spots also at the start of the shows, but thankfully not during them. And since I just mentioned the word “presentation” let me saw WOW, does the HPLHS believe that presentation is everything. Each CD comes pack with artistic goodies to more fully enhance your enjoyment of the story. “Mountains of Madness” has photos of the ancient alien city and a newspaper article about the ill-fated expedition. “Innsmouth” has a map of the town drawn on the back of a fish wrapper and a matchbook (complete with a single remaining match) with an important name scribbled inside. “Dunwich” has a hand drawn page of magical incantations from Wilbur’s notebook and even a page from the dreaded Necronomicon its self. Those are just some of the extras you get with the CDs, but wait; I didn’t even mention the cool box that looks like an antique radio that holds all the discs. Believe me when I say that this is one set you are far more likely to display somewhere proudly rather than file away with all the other, far more mundane CDs.

As for the radio shows, they are, in a word, mondo-super-deluxe-fantastic! I’ve listened to each story more than once and they have yet to get old. The acting is top notch, the music is wonderful, and the sound effects are brilliant and sometimes, as with the flying polyps’ screeching whistling, terrifying. Fans of Lovecraft simply must get this now. Right now! Do not pass GO, do not collect $200, but instead go here and order your own copy of DARK ADVENTURE RADIO THEATER today. You can thank me later.

What? Want another source to get these CDs? Then you can go here:

See, I’m all about choices.

Back in February I did a Hidden Horror on ultra-cool horror t-shirts. One month later I can across another online shirt seller with enough awesome goodies that I felt the need to tell you about them as soon as possible and not wait to do a Terror T-shirts Two article. The destination I speak of is, and with a name like that you might not know that these guys and gals some of the best looking, most well made, and unique shirts (and other items) for the discriminating horrorhead. Let me run through a few, will you?

First they have a ton of shirts based on H.P. Lovecraft and the weird worlds he created. Just in case you couldn’t tell from the reviews above, I am a huge fan of HPL, so naturally I was all over these wares. Two of my favorites were a tribal Cthulhu design and a red and black button up bowling shirt with an advertisement for the Miskatonic Cocktail Club on its back. However if you’re a horror fan that’s not into the whole Cthulhu is awesome thing, then shame on you, but Sighco still has you covered, so don’t worry. Dig zombies? Well these guys show more cadaver love than a necrophiliac with a bunch of zombie related items. Like the bloodsucking variety of undead over the brain eaters? Well the vampires are well represented. Bit of a furry? Even the lycanthropes get some play. Are you into Edgar Allan Poe? Well after Lovecraft, the father of the modern mystery is the next most covered celebrity. Maybe you like your “evil” a bit more generic? Well there’s plenty of Satan, skulls, and spooky things like bones and spider webs, not to mention the cool odd bits like a Grendal, Jack the Ripper, Pazuzu, pirates, the King in Yellow, and man I could go on and on and on.

Not into horror? Then what the hell are you doing here? Well even you poor fools without any sense of taste can find shirts here based on Asian/anime culture, steampunk, weird history, geeks (as in computers, role playing games, etc), the occult, alcohol-themed, and even shirts that let you fly your fetish (as in BDSM) flag high. Essentially if something is strange, underground, or just plain cool, chances are these customer clothiers will have something covering the topic. Further, they are all very well made, and their graphics hold up well and remain sharp even after repeat washings.

But ok, let’s say that you’ve already got a closet full of T-shirts and don’t really want any more. Well then once more you’re in luck, as Sighco has other goodies to offer. Shot glasses, beer glasses, baseball caps, knitted hats, hoodies, work shirts, Goth arm warmers, thongs, sexy yet spooky stockings, bumper stickers, Cthulhu Christmas cards, and even a small but fine collection of movies and CDs. If you are looking for a one stop shop for everything cool, you will be hard pressed to find any better than this one. Give ‘em a look for yourself her: Go for the awesome T-shirts but stay for all the other cool things they have to offer.

Now for something that doesn’t have even the slightest connection to H.P. Lovecraft. If you are a fan of Freddy Kruger, or even if you’ve just ever watched any of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET flicks, then chances are good that you thought Freddy’s signature claw was way wicked cool and something that would be so awesome to own. I would have to agree with you on that. The good news is that there’s a ton of people out there making replicas of Mr. Kruger’s claw. The bad news is that there’s a ton of people out there making replicas of Mr. Kruger’s claw, so which one do you spend your hard earned money on? Well being your good pal, I’m looking out for you, so I’ve done all the leg work to help make your choice easier.

I have seen a lot of Freddy glove reproductions over the years, usually at horror conventions and the like. Out of all the creators there was only a very short list of the best glove makers and at the top of that list is Mark at His gloves are, in a world, amazing. When discussing collectibles such as these, there are three things to consider; looks, feel, and quality, so that is how I’ll review this Freddy fanboy’s fever dream (or would that be nightmare?) come true.

Regarding its looks, I can sum it up with one word: amazing. If you want more than one word, then how about it appears totally authentic and looks like it just came off the hand of the toasted child killer himself. This is perhaps the most important aspect of gloves like these, since chances are all you’re going to do with these bladed gloves is mount them on a wall, or place them on a shelf or mantel for everyone to see. At least, I hope that’s all you’re going to do with it. In this regard, this glove gets an A+. It looks old, dirty, and weathered despite being newly assembled just a few weeks ago. If you want an excellent objet d’ arte then this will definitely fit the bill. But is there more to it? Yes there is.

The feel of this glove, if you are so inclined to sip it on, and if you get one I know you will, is perfect. The way the joins move, the feel of the leather against your skin, the slight clicking sounds, all goes towards giving this glove an authentic feel. Seeing it is one thing, but putting it one really gives you an idea of how nasty this weapon could be if you were sick enough to use it. It also surprisingly light, which is a godsend when you are out on an all night stalking…not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. So while this glove is mainly intended to look at, it is nice that it has the proper feel as well.

Now as for the quality, that’s where this knife glove really shines. It is completely handmade out of the appropriate materials. The finger columns and tips are .0216" copper, the back plate is .016" brass, and rivets are something called "gilt" rivets. I’m not sure what they are made out of, but they look like brass. The blades are made from mirrored 16 gauge stainless steel and the glove is 100% cowhide leather. However more than the sum of its parts, this glove is just well put together. It feels solid, sturdy. While I wouldn’t recommend trying to punch through doors with it, it will last forever if treated with the proper care.

As said before, I’ve seen other Freddy gloves and while some looked good, felt fine, or were well made, few, if any put all three aspects together as completely as craft master Mark did. If you want your own set of Freddy finger knives, then I highly recommend getting yours at He has a few different gloves to chose from, so no mater your financial situation he is sure to have something just right for your budget. And rest assured, even his “cheap” gloves aren’t cheaply made. Quality seems to be everything to Mark, and that is truly evident in this glove. In three words: I love it.

--Brian M. Sammons