Do you enjoy films by Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks? Would you like to turn your children into gibbering madmen, tearing their hair out in search of antediluvian glyphs in the cyclopean ruins of long lost R'lyth? If so may I recommend "Howard Lovecraft and The Frozen Kingdom" a 2016 animated feature film that may have been made by a lunatic. A few of Lovecraft's creepy creatures are here in cute animated form making "Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom" maybe an attempt to cash in on Disney's Frozen. This is a winter adventure with a big eyed Cthulhu and his star spawn playing with the young Howard P. Lovecraft himself deep in an animated uncanny valley.
If you aren't acquainted with the work of H.P. Lovecraft here is a little bit of background. Lovecraft is probably one of the most influential writers of horror and weird fiction that the 20th century produced. Stephen King, Guillermo Del Toro, Laird Barron, Clive Barker and John Carpenter all owe a debt to this strange man from Providence, Rhode Island. Lovecraft's fiction sits between the Gothic, supernatural horror of Edgar Allen Poe or Robert W. Chambers and later science fiction and horror that many of us would find familiar. This a move from ghosts to gross slimy squid monsters from beyond Pluto. Ghostbusters has a Lovecraftian enemy which can be summoned by a cult through a building, a portal not much different than his Yog-Sothoth which threatens to destroy the world. John Carpenter's Thing is an enemy of cosmic horror that humans can barely understand. Guerllmo Del Toro's Kaiju from Pacific Rim are the exact kind of space freaks that Lovecraft dreamed would hopefully someday consume our planet.
Lovecraft's contribution to literature is the idea of Cosmic Horror, that the universe is far too weird, strange, unknowable and horrific for humans to really wrap their heads around. While humans may currently be masters of the earth, not very long ago strange incomprehensible beings roamed places strange and deep and humans are at best a future hors d'oeuvre for Cthulhu, the Blind Azathoth, Nyarlathotep and army of Shoggoths. The names for these creatures may have been created when Lovecraft spilled a set of Scrabble tiles. What defines Lovecraft's creatures are as follows- they have bad attitudes and you could never understand them ever even if you wanted to, much like rapper Cardi B. They are immortal, or unable to die and come from stars long dead and black. Nothing is cuddly, nothing is cute. None of his characters are sympathetic, they mostly are going mad, about to go mad, or are already mad. Another characteristic of Lovecraft's prose is that he often writes in a strange present tense where his narrators are in the middle of putting words down to paper when they are ACK! attacked by a ghoul or gibbering chthonic glop or transmogrify into a fish person in the very middle of a sentence.
Lovecraft himself was a pretty odd person. Besides dreaming of deities which ooze cosmic ichor he was also afraid of pretty much everything else in the world. Lovecraft was a racist. Flat out terrified of people that didn’t look and sound exactly like himself. This horror is best expressed in his short story "the Horror from Red Hook" where the narrator blunders around a typical Brooklyn neighborhood imagining that everyone around him is aninhuman monster. Today that same neighborhood has an artisanal mayonnaise store. Lovecraft was terrified of women and intimacy. His stories hardly ever mention women at all, none of his protagonists are women and his own personal life was almost completely devoid of female companionship, save his mother and a short marriage. Lovecraft was also a logophile , using arcane and obtuse verbiage pulled from what seems like Middle English
Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom takes a peek into the childhood of Lovecraft, his strange parents and his very close and personal friendship with that which not dead eternal lie, the great Cthulhu himself. None of Lovecraft's major works are tackled, and certainly aren't explained to children in any coherent manner. The animated feature is too sparse, without much music, and looks like a PBS kids feature like Dino Train but creepy and terrible. There are no bright colors or even moments of wonder like in Inside Out or Up, just drab quiet dialogue with Ron Perlman.
Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is a strange entry into the world of children's animated feature films, but won’t really give your children a good introduction to the genre of cosmic horror. Why not start with a real Lovecraft classic like Stewart Gordon's Re-animator or From Beyond, films that don’t hesitate to really mess your children up with stretching alien glop monsters and headless zombie professors. How else could you introduce a school age child to the idea that the universe is a swirling maelstrom of chaos, where humans can never truly grasp their own insignificance in the face of ancient alien horror that is out to consume us all? I guess you could let them watch the news.
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