While I have certainly been a fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft for quite some time. Thanks in fact to 1985’s Re-Animator. I do not believe the now quite famous author would ever have expected that his works would be adapted into film. Much less two CGI animated movies from Shout! Factory. Which are based on the graphic novels by Dwight L. MacPherson and Bruce Brown from 2009. But that certainly is what has happened with Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom. Which is actually a sequel to the 2016 movie entitled Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom.
In the Howard Lovecraft series we are introduced to the future author as a young boy. As well as quickly finding out that the stories we love are actually entities and people that Howard Lovecraft had met in his youth. In the first adventure our hero reads from his Father’s book. An odd tome that describes a darkly fantastic realm named R’yleh. Doing so conjures a portal that sends Lovecraft into the path of Thu Thu Hmong.
Of course Howard is a young boy and he surely can’t be expected to pronounce that properly, right? So that is how this ancient and very wise entity comes to be called by a much simpler name. Spot. The duo set out to tackle the dangers of the Frozen Kingdom and beyond.
Peppered throughout both films are not just nods to Lovecraft’s works. But actual biographical information of the author is included as well. Of course since this is a family film, some facts are softened. In particular I refer to Howard Lovecraft visiting his Father in the Butler sanitarium. While the filmmakers have altered the works of the author to entertain a younger audience. As well as of course the cosmic entities that threaten our heroes. On the whole it does deliver a tasty Lovecraftian treat.
I think you will immediately pick up on the animation of the films. This is not Pixar of course. On the other hand it is certainly serviceable. However the real draw to both movies is the voice talent. You have the likes of the legendary Christopher Plummer as Dr. West. Ron Perlman as a Shoggoth. Then we have Hellraiser‘s Doug Bradley providing the voice of Nyarlathotep. None other than Mark Hamill as Dr. Henry Armitage. And last but certainly not least we have Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator fame!
Speaking of Combs, he is really the only bonus feature provided for this release, beyond a trailer. It is a nice addition however nonetheless. A short segment in which the actor talks about the continuing popularity of Lovecraft’s work.
Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom will be available in stores on December 5th. If you cannot wait until this upcoming Tuesday however you can of course hop on over to Shout Factory and pre-order your copy today!
Now that you know about Howard Lovecraft why not enjoy this audio treat? Roddy McDowall reading H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound
If you’re in the mood for the moon, or perhaps for awakening eldritch horrors, this is your week, soundtrack collecting friends.
There’s a new soundtrack out for a movie based on some classic H.P. Lovecraft lore, and if you’ll pardon the expression, it’s a great old one. Intrada this week brings us Richard Band’s complete score from 1986’s From Beyond, including alternate recordings of some of the movie’s cues. Alternates are an interesting glimpse into the compositional process, a look at how a scene could’ve played out musically…but didn’t. Maybe it’s a slight shift in arrangement, maybe it’s a total rethink of the piece of music from the ground up.
Oh, but it gets better – since Intrada has rolled out a new release that combines Lovecraft and Richard Band and Jeffrey Combs, why not offer a special deal on another soundtrack that has all of those things in one place? The already-released Richard Band score from 1985’s Re-Animator can be yours for 15% off – with or without the purchase of From Beyond – if you use the coupon code BEYOND at checkout.
Now let’s go to the moon. Many an ardent fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation will tell you that the show’s music was much better in its first four seasons on the air thanks to composer Ron Jones, whose tendency to buck the showrunners’ very strict ideas on music didn’t exactly endear him to them, and they simply stopped engaging his services toward the end of the fourth season, even though he’d given the show its most celebrated score (1990’s fan favorite two-parter The Best Of Both Worlds). Jones has since moved on to Family Guy, happily leaving space behind…until the makers of a new documentary about the space program sent him back into orbit.
Jones’ score from Fight for Space can now be brought down to Earth from Amazon’s digital music service. (No CD release is planned at this time.)
If you’re looking for a more fanciful trip to the moon, however, Kritzerland Records brings us John Scott’s classic score from 1967’s Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon (released in the U.S. as Those Fantastic Flying Fools in an attempt to grab the coattails of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines). This soundtrack was released…in 1967…on vinyl…in the UK. Chances are, for most soundtrack collectors, this is their first realistic shot at owning this one. Scott was near the beginning of his career here, prior to such high-profile assignments as The Final Countdown, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, and King Kong Lives, and this score makes it easy to see how he started climbing the Hollywood ladder so quickly.
Coming next week: the late, great Elmer Bernstein rides again with The Sons Of Katie Elder. Tune in next time, true believers.
Speaking of showbiz and soundtracks, it’s time for the penultimate installment of the Retroist Scoreboard Glossary, giving you the lingo that crops up so often in discussion of collecting soundtracks.
The Retroist Scoreboard: The Industry & The Hobby & Some Acronyms
AFM (American Federation of Musicians) – the trade union of session musicians hired to perform film scores in the United States, the AFM represents its members in negotiations for the release or reuse of their music, and as such wields considerable power in the soundtrack industry. The AFM contends – quite rightly – that if labels or the directors/studios of later movies wish to make use of music already recorded, the musicians who performed in those recordings should benefit from that continued use as well. The AFM was responsible for establishing the approximately 45-minute “ceiling” on the amount of music on most soundtrack albums through the ‘90s (and, as such, can be inadvertently thanked for making complete or expanded score reissues necessary in the first place). Negotiations between the AFM and Film Score Monthly (FSM) in the late ‘90s led to the industry-standard 3,000 copy limited edition that has become the norm for boutique soundtrack labels, though that limit can also be said to have created the secondary market for limited edition soundtrack releases.
Film Score Monthly (FSM) – the long-running periodical publication of the film music collecting hobby, Film Score Monthly was founded as a fanzine in 1990 by Lukas Kendall, became a glossy professional publication in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, before going digital (like many other print magazines) more recently. Film Score Monthly also became, chiefly in the 2000s, a soundtrack label unto itself, releasing such classic film scores as The Dirty Dozen, Logan’s Run, THX-1138, Ben-Hur, Patton, Heavy Metal, and dozens of others, though Kendall opted to cease operating as a label several years ago. Some out of print FSM titles are now worth serious money on the secondary market.
Holst – in soundtrack collecting circles, you hear a lot about Gustav Holst (1874–1934), the composer of The Planets (Op. 32) orchestral suite, which was not a soundtrack. But Holst’s unique style, especially the opening bars of “Mars, Bringer Of War” (The Planets’ first movement), has had a profound influence on orchestral scoring. You can clearly hear its influence on John Williams’ Star Wars (and, via Williams’ influence on later generations of composers, to much more recent fare), and various filmmakers and composers have even licensed and incorporated snippets of The Planets into their own scores, such as The Right Stuff. (Director Nicholas Meyer originally wanted to track Star Trek VI with The Planets, but the cost of licensing the music from the Holst estate ruled that out; see tracking.)
Korngold – a descriptive term derived from the name of legendary film composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), who all but invented the full-blooded orchestral film scoring tradition for movies with fantasy settings, bestowing a brassy, heraldic sound upon The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) and Captain Blood (1935). (The irony of it is that, if Robin Hood was a real person, the dominant music of that period in history would likely have been plainchant, not a brass section.) Korngold is often pointed out a major influence on most later film music composers, including one John Williams; over half a century after his death, his name has become a verb among some film music fans (“wow, he was really Korngolding it on that movie!”).
Perpetuity Rights – in the early days of the specialty soundtrack label (namely, the 1990s), small labels such as Varese Sarabande and GNP Crescendo negotiated the rights to film and TV scores they released in perpetuity – no other label can release that soundtrack. Ever. This has an effect on reissues in that, unless that label releases an expanded or complete score later itself, there’s now an additional party to pay in reissuing/expanding a previously partially released score. This was a major issue with La-La Land’s 2012 release of the 15-CD complete music collection from classic Star Trek: GNP Crescendo had to be paid because it had locked down the soundtrack rights for the scores from the original series. This behind-the-scenes negotiation is invisible to the buying public, but may substantially increase the price they pay for a reissue.
When it comes to 1985’s Re-Animator I can say humbly that I am a fanatic. Not only did it plant the seed that would make me a lifelong fan of H.P. Lovecraft. But it also happened to be one of my first two video rentals back in the day. Furthermore Re-Animator is easily one of my favorite horror films of all time.
There is a lot to love about Re-Animator. From Stuart Gordon’s excellent directing to the gruesome practical gore effects that abound. I would have to say though in addition to all of that what truly elevates this film to classic status is the cast. From the likes of Barbara Crampton, Bruce Abbott, David Gale, and Robert Sampson. Each and every one shine brightly in their role but it is however Jeffrey Combs as the disturbed Herbert West that steals the show.
Re-Animator certainly earned it’s cult movie status and has through the years managed to grow beyond that. So much so that Stuart Gordon in 2011 was able to stage the very well received Re-Animator: The Musical.
One thing that was lacking for us fans of Re-Animator back in 1985 was merchandise. While there was of course many magazines like Fangoria placing the movie on their covers – the offerings were slim. Thankfully there are more than a few companies over the past years that have decided to fix that mistake.
As always, a huge thanks goes out to Quint over at Ain’t It Cool News for his continuing fascinating series of behind the scenes photos. This time he has shared a pic of the beautiful Barbara Crampton getting a little touch up work done from the closing events of one of my all time favorite movies, Re-Animator!
She looks slightly less than thrilled to me. But considering the scenes that occurred before this one in the film…that might be understandable.
Re-Animator was directed and written by the talented Stuart Gordon, along with the aid of Dennis Paoli and William Norris. It of course stars the lovely Crampton, as well as Bruce Abbott, David Gale, Robert Sampson, and of course the amazing Jeffrey Combs!
You might remember that Stuart Gordon was able to bring his cult movie successfully to life on stage as a musical, that link will lead you straight to our very own Vinvectrex’s review!