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The Nostalgic Attic: Bargain -Bin Books #2 - H.P. Lovecraft's 'Re-Animator'

30 April 2014

Bargain -Bin Books #2 - H.P. Lovecraft's 'Re-Animator'

(Published by Adventure Comics 1991)

"Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror."

So begins Herbert West- Reanimator, the serialised gruesome tale by H.P. Lovecraft. First published between February and July in 1922, it has gone on to be among the most well-known Lovecraft stories, but definitely not the most loved. 

The story follows the adventures of the un-named narrator and his involvement with West's experiments in reviving the dead over the course of several decades, and at various points, several continents. Each segment of the story concludes with a cliffhanger, something unusual for Lovecraft stories, and is much more ghoulish than his regular works. The 6 different 'chapters' are; 'From the Dark', 'Six Shots at Midnight', 'The Horror from the Shadows', 'The Plague-Daemon', 'The Tomb Legions' and 'The Scream of the Dead'. The fact that it was written purely for cash and the more gory nature of the story leads many fans of literature to dismiss it as trash, but I think it is good, solid fun and it never takes itself too seriously. I've read it several times over the years, and had it in multiple Lovecraft collections, but I like little odd copies of stories that can pop up, like this one. 

This edition was released as a cash-in for the film, which by this point was doing huge business, with a sequel just after being released. The cover is great, with Jeffrey Combs' likeness doing the job nicely. It has an intro by Steven Jones, and scattered between the chapters are some great black-and-white illustrations, that makes the whole thing a nice little piece for fans of the story, or the film. I picked it up in a comic book store that used to be in Temple Bar, Dublin, but I think it's closed down now. It was about ten years ago, and around the same time I was given a copy of the same story being read by Jeffrey Combs on audio! That is also worth checking out if you are a hardcore fan of the material, no doubt it is easy enough to find.

For those that haven't read it and are only familiar with Stuart Gordon's genre classic, it is worth reading at some point. It is relatively short, and it's always nice to see what snippets of ideas were used in the translation to the big screen. Just don't expect a typed Barbara Crampton getting eaten out by a severed head...

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At 30 April 2014 at 13:38 , Blogger Wes M said...

Yeah, this is very nice John. I don't quite have anything like this, maybe Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, but nothing based on an existing film. When I was a kid I briefly collected graphic novels, mainly Clive Barker's Hellraiser series, and the 4-issue Leatherface series, based on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. I think my favourite one was an adaptation Night of the Living Dead which was full of really great eerie artwork by Stephen Bissette. But I digress... It's been a good few years since I read Herbert West Re-Animator but it's a pretty good slice of Lovecraft, but I must say I like most everything Lovecraft wrote and for me he is the greatest of the early fantasists - certainly Poe, who I find hard to read (even though The Raven is one of the best things ever written), and MR James who's good but has none of the weirdness of Lovecraft. I still love to grab one of his collections (the three Penguin annotated anthologies are fantastic) and sit back with some dark ambient stuff - I posted about Lovecraft last year and recommended a Lustmord album for soundtrack duties and I'll stick by that... Re-Animator, still one of the best films of the 80's and has the brilliant rewind factor, I think stands up to repeated viewings. The scene where Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbot first try out the re-animation agent in the morgue is one of the best 5mins in Horror Cinema - just incredible. I like From Beyond as well - it's silly, the special effects are decidedly ropey but Barbara Crampton is so damn sexy in this movie. I bought From Beyond on laserdisc a few years ago on eBay just for the sleeve - the face melting from the old VHS, which MGM in their wisdom didn't use for the DVD ! Eejits...

(Meantime, farewell Bob Hoskins, diamond geezer)

At 1 May 2014 at 02:05 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Wes, this really isn't very fancy at all, it's cheaply printed, and I got it for a few pound. But it is a nice addition to the bookshelf. That Night of the Living Dead one sounds great, I must keep my eye out for it.

Fully agreed on Lovecraft, I rank him highly among favorite authors, and would regularly re-read many of his stories. Shadows over Innsmouth gets a read at least once a year... I do like Poe, but he is less full-on horror to me, but I think MR James is in a league of his own when it comes to traditional ghost stories. - we owe most 'haunting' film plotlines to him, really. Such an influential writer. I've given away so many copies of cheap Lovecraft collections over the years, just to friends who expressed an interest. I've definitely been doing my part! I have a nice hardback, faux leather edition of his most popular stuff for myself, and another cheapo collection with stories missing from the hardback.

Yeah, Re-Animator is incredible fun,and From Beyond is a demented blast. Agreed on the artwork, I have the old VHS tape here, in fact. I could never understand why the went with the film score artwork for the DVD cover. Saying that, we can't complain too much, as we finally have the film uncut!

And yes, farewell Bob Hoskins, he appeared in many of my favorite films. An underrated actor, especially for some of the roles he did in the likes of Felica's Journey and Twenty Four Seven.

At 8 July 2014 at 20:09 , Blogger Craig Edwards said...

I'm with you guys down the line - I enjoy Lovecraft a lot - my friend Brad turned me on to ol' HP back in high school - loaning me his paperback collections. I like Poe - but I Lovecraft. (See what I did there?) Stuart Gordon's movies are all among my faves.

I worked with Bob Hoskins a while back - sadly it was his least favorite project he ever worked on - if anyone would like to read about it - here's Part One...


At 9 July 2014 at 06:46 , Blogger JP Mulvanetti said...

Thanks craig, cheers for the link!


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