Friday, November 12, 2010

Humor and HPL: A Sampling of YouTube Madness from Inmate93

Humor and the, oops, that's The Mythos do not mix--or so some people have declared, ranted and proclaimed.  Plush Cthulhu, Kovalic's My Little Cthulhu, the Little Gloomies Carl Cthulhu are all seen by some as a sort of sign of an impending HPLocalypse or something I guess.  Several folks have decried such things as somehow trivializing the Great Old Ones or diminishing the horror-quotient of the squishy-gellid-squamous blasphemies from beyond time and space.  Maybe they just don't appreciate the paradoxical juxtaposition of horror and humor, but all that is required is to hear a lunatic laugh and all becomes quite clear and cogent let me assure you.  It's nowhere near as paradoxical as it might seem on the unspeakable face of it.  HPL wrote about the fears lurking in the heart of an uptight xenophobic racist ultra-conservative prude who feared modernity and lusted after sterile, dessicated quasi-Victorian hyper-intellectual fabrications of How Things Ought To Be (but aren't ever going to).  He was the sort of guy who might well have masturbated over (the personal acquisition i.e. conquest of) rare books, with gloves, with the lights off.  Then he'd eat a big bowl of ice cream and get back to writing another long, long letter with the same hand, though he would probably remove the glove. Probably. I won't even get into the asexual versus homophobe/repressed gayness argument, though the whole squishy tentacle-faced squid-beast lurking under the sea symbolism fairly speaks for itself, even if you find Freud more freaktacular and weird than HPL.  Hillbilly-cultists babbling prehuman blasphemies ain't the only pervert in-breeders, you know.  Ick.  The horror of it all...
"I have dwelt ever in realms apart from the visible world; spending my youth and adolescence in ancient and little-known books, and in roaming the fields and groves of the region near my ancestral home. I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me."
The Tomb, by H.P. Lovecraft

Honestly, how anyone can take the horror-fiction of HPL seriously is beyond me, but the Mythos as a shared sandbox we can all mess about in to our various respective black-heart's delight, like a passle of disrespectful alley-cats in the moonlight, that is frikkin' awesome and a lot of fun.  Trying to bring the scary back into HPL's stuff is a good challenge, but few have managed to pull it off.  Most of the time things simply descend into gross-ness and puerile nonsense.  A lot of it is funny without meaning to be, and in this age of sparkly vampires and well-groomed domesticated-lycanthropes maybe HPL's miscengenation tales and pre-Unabomber technoloathing fables have lost a lot of whatever charge they once carried...maybe.  But maybe not.
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”
I double-dare you to say that three times fast...with a straight face...
In a Mythos dominated by a blind, idiot god writhing at the center of the universe surrounded by the patron saints of couch potatoes and reality programming, humor definitely has a place in The Mythos.  But what is that place exactly?  Is it quite what we might imagine it to be, or are we being lulled into a false sense of security?  Is it really funny, or is the laughter more of a nervous release, the kind that occurs when confronted by terrible things that just cannot be processed, let alone accepted by the conscious mind?

It's an interesting, even intriguing notion...

Here are a few of my favorite HPL-spoofs and Lovecraftian Parodies from YouTube:
  • The Love Craft.  A short spoof of the classic Seventies TV-show The Love Boat, only now with Cthulhu as the special guest star.  Asenath Waite as the Cruise Director was a stroke of genius.  And it has Charo.  Cthulhu+Charo=Priceless Soul-Shattering Horror.
  • Elder Sign.  Absolutely one of the best Lovecraft-spoofs ever done at YouTube.  The Plumber's matter-of-fact delivery is spot-on and the whole mock-ad is definitely quite a bit funnier than anything the old gent ever wrote himself.  It's a classic, like the phony Myth-Os cereal-ad, both of which have been around for a while, but are worth a chuckle.
  • Carol of the Old Ones.  Wow.  Absolutely one of the best HPL-spoofs ever committed in the name of the Old Ones--and it's just one of a whole slew of blasphemous carols collected together on a CD available via the HPLovecraft Historical Society.  This just went to the top of my Must-Get List.  A couple of other examples: Death To The World, Awake Ye Scary Great Old Ones, Freddy The Red-Brained Mi-Go...
  • Reanimator Versus Sin City.  Incredible editing work turns clips from these two movies into one very creepy faux-trailer.  It really gets you thinking about what Frank Miller might do with some of HPL's stuff...and this guy's mash-up of Herbert West taking on Ash of the Evil Dead movies is also pretty well done, though the Herbert West: Benny Hill clip is a little funnier...
  • Cthulhu's Clues.  Blues Clues meets the Mythos.  Yeah.  What can you really say?  It was apparently a reaction to the Cthulhu Lego clip.
  • For the HPL-inclined Troma-fans there is LoveCracked: The Movie from Biffjuggernaut...which looks equal parts gross and funny...in a decidedly Troma-esque manner, which is obviously an acquired taste, like cannibalism sudoku puzzles.  This is a fun project that thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously and deserves a bit wider distribution beyond Innsmouth, Arkham and points East.  If you like the trailer enough, you can get a copy of the whole thing via amazon.  It's cheap.  Take that however you will...
  • The Adventures of Lil Cthulhu.  Ouch. Funny, well-done, but you can hear HPL turning over in his grave...which reminds me of My Little Cthulhu and Cutethulhu...which brings this particular list to an appropriate end, with the Old Gent himself beating his skull against his coffin-lid in disgust.
Some people prefer to debate the merits of humor and whether it has any place in the, ahem, The Mythos?  Apparently it most certainly does, whether anyone approves of it or not. It's all around us.  Practically ubiquitous. You could say that it squirms around like slimy tentacles behind the scenes all over the place, lurking and waiting for the opportunity to spill forth inappropriately or grotesquely, in some of the weirdest, strangest, most unlikely places.  Whatever one's personal opinion on the matter, Mythos-derived/inspired  humor is a reality, a fact of life. Just as HPL deftly skewered the old tropes and conventions of Horror and developed his ambiguous, anomalous, squamous and insidious modern mythology to replace the out-moded and tawdry remnants of lingering folklore that once actually frightened grown-ups (consider the cases of Peter Plogojowitz or Peter Stumpp, or Urban Grandier, for examples), now, in turn, his own tropes, conventions and so forth are showing signs of wear, tear and the stretchmarks associated with having to adapt to radically different social conditions than anything HPL imagined as likely or possible. 

Or is that really the case?

Stop for a moment and consider this; the proliferation of spoofs and parodies rooted in HPL's synthetic mythology may really be more of an indication that we've passed the threshold he feared, that we've entered into the End Times predicted by Dread Cthulhu's demented prophets and inbred cultists alike.  Didn't the old Gent himself write that:
"The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return."

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Where once serial killers were inextricably wound-up in the folklore of Lycanthropy, which they may or may not have inspired, a man who has knives jutting from his hands isn't just the latest incarnation of the boogeyman anymore, he's also a psychopathic superhero and one of the most notorious real-world serial killers of all time was himself a clown.  A clown.  Who says that humor has no place in The Mythos?  We can laugh all we want at the octopus in the room, but in the end, Cthulhu laughs last and loudest because, like a literary STD, HPL's Mythos has managed to infect just about every and all aspects of our popular culture and that is the most pervasive, insidious, and all-too-real horror of them all.  It kinda makes me want to laugh...

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