At The Mustache Of Madness: Revisiting “The Dunwich Horror”

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by Mark McLaughlin

It can’t be easy, trying to make a movie out of an H.P. Lovecraft story.

If you’re a fan of his work, you might wonder why there aren’t more Lovecraftian movies. After all, his stories are all so thrilling and imaginative….

But, there are some technical issues to consider. Personally, I delight in everything that Lovecraft ever wrote, but I do realize he was writing for the printed page – not the big screen.

For one thing, most of his stories feature hybrid deities whose bizarre forms could easily confuse movie viewers. People who aren’t familiar with these creatures might think, “What’s the deal with that big fat lizard-guy with the tentacle-beard and bat-wings? Is he a demon, an alien, a mutant, a deep-sea creature or what? Why is he always asleep at the bottom of the ocean? What’s so scary about that?”

Lovecraft’s creatures carry a considerable amount of back-story, which can be imparted in a story with relative ease. But it can be tricky, trying to convey all that exposition in a movie. I suppose you could give the hero an assistant who asks a lot of questions, like any one of Dr. Who’s companions. Still, that can get tiresome before long.

How do you casually explain, on-screen, the basics of a character as wildly convoluted as Nyarlathotep? “Well, you see, he’s sort of a shape-changing demon from another dimension. He’s known as the Crawling Chaos, though I’ve never seen him crawling around. When he visits Earth, he likes to dress up as a young Egyptian pharaoh. No one really knows why.”

Also, Lovecraft’s deities/creatures are often divided up into groups that don’t sound all that different. There are the Great Ones, the Outer Gods, the Great Old Ones, the Elder Gods, and the Elder Things. Okay, most of them are really old and/or great … yeah, we get it. The real question is, who gave these groups those names? They sure didn’t name themselves. For example, the Elder Things were huge, winged aliens with heads shaped like starfish. They would’ve been more likely to call themselves the Huge Things, the Winged Things, or the Starfish-Headed Things, instead of just referring to how long they’ve been around.

American International Pictures released the Lovecraft tale, “The Dunwich Horror,” as a movie back in 1970, and it’s clear they had to make a lot of hard decisions about how closely they would adhere to the original plot.

In the written story, the lead character, Wilbur Whateley, was the hybrid son of a human woman and the cosmic entity Yog-Sothoth. Wilbur was a freakishly tall, misshapen humanoid with a riotous conglomeration of unearthly limbs and organs. Obviously that would have been an expensive challenge for the production company’s make-up department.

That’s probably why they hired a handsome hunk, Dean Stockwell, for the part … that, and the fact that he was far more visually appealing than some transdimensional body-part casserole. Of course, they did want him to look somewhat sinister, so they gave him a sinister mustache. It really was an awesomely thick mustache … a veritable mustache of madness. I suspect they also made his hair curlier, and his eyebrows bushier, to make him look randy and satyresque.

The original story didn’t have a romantic interest, which is no surprise to Lovecraft readers. Fiction-wise, romance was not Lovecraft’s strong suit. Love – and women, for that matter –  rarely figured into any of his plots. That must be why Sandra Dee was brought into the film. A nationally released movie without an element of romance isn’t going to get very far.

The print version of “The Dunwich Horror” made readers wonder whether or not ancient monstrosities would take over the Earth and destroy humanity. The movie version made viewers wonder whether or not Nancy, the perky coed played by Sandra Dee, would finally lose her virginity to Arkham’s handsome mystic outcast.

One of my favorite moments in the movie comes shortly after the distinguished Dr. Armitage asks Nancy, who helps out in Miskatonic University’s library, to take care in putting away the priceless Necronomicon. Nancy agrees, but in no time at all, she allows Wilbur Whateley to browse through the ancient grimoire because he has “great eyes.” I’m glad she’s not in charge of national security….

Later, in the movie’s saucy ritual scenes, one cannot help but notice that Wilbur has propped up the Necronomicon on Nancy’s luscious body. At one point, he even has to part her legs a bit to get a better look at … the book, presumably.

We’re entering spoiler territory now, so please, don’t read on if you plan on watching the movie and would like to be surprised.

Certainly the movie’s most dramatic scene is when Wilbur and Dr. Armitage have their final face-off at the pagan altar site. Out of the blue, they begin to jabber occult phrases at each other that sound like words being hollered backwards. Apparently, the good doctor is better at jabbering, and has learned a higher quality of backward buzzwords. His occult cries cause Wilbur to burst into flames, and the defeated lad falls screaming off a nearby cliff.

At that moment, Wilbur’s supernatural, snake-tressed twin brother decides to make the scene. But by then, Wilbur has perished, the magic has dissipated, so the twin must depart for some Yog-Sothothian limbo. I was hoping that the twin would look like a giant mustache, composed of thousands of slender tentacles, but I suppose such an expensive effect would have been beyond the production’s budget.

Will there ever come a day when Lovecraftian movies are as popular as superhero movies? Probably not. Like I said: For most viewers, they’d require too much explanation. Lovecraft’s fictional world is filled with otherworldly concepts and pseudo-scientific mysteries, and that’s the way it should be. He wished to generate a profound sense of cosmic awe, leaving readers with more questions than mere words could ever answer.

The movie “The Dunwich Horror” is certainly enjoyable, but it doesn’t capture the dark, brooding brilliance of Lovecraft’s story. At least it presents many of the written tale’s marvelous concepts and inventive plot points … and really, that’s good enough. Hopefully, many of the folks who have seen the movie have found and enjoyed the source material, ushering new devotees into Lovecraft’s literary domain.

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APOCALYPSE AMERICA! Sample Chapter: City of Two-Thousand Sins

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Here you will find a sample chapter from APOCALYPSE AMERICA! – the new post-apocalyptic/science-fiction novel by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle formats (FREE on Kindle Unlimited).
Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1095333763/
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFGK36Y/
(The above pages will eventually be united.)

CITY OF TWO-THOUSAND SINS
Las Vegas, Nevada

The city had no name. But then, names weren’t a priority anymore.

One forsaken settlement was pretty much the same as the next: no food, no water, no power, nothing. After the depletion of all fossil fuel resources, the collapse of the world economy and the nuclear war with Mexico, America was in ruins. Swarms of locusts and flesh-eating dust mites ravaged the Midwest and West Coast. Also, the global warming process had accelerated, baking the once-prosperous land into a barren dust bowl.

At one time, the city had been a place of opulence and excitement. Traces of its former glory could be seen everywhere. Marble walls and fountains. Crystal chandeliers. The ruins of gaming tables, stages and bars. At one time, people had enjoyed this city.

Those days of fun and games were long gone.

– – –

Jeb was the official sin-counter.

He was a tall, dark-bearded man with rugged features, surprisingly gentle eyes, and numbers tattooed all over his body. His face featured a ‘24′ on one cheek, a ‘7′ on the other, and a ‘365′ centered on his forehead. He had a ‘111′ on each palm and a ‘222′ on the sole of each foot.

His task was to count the sins of those who lived in the nameless city. He recorded them all in his Book of Sins, which rested on a podium in the Great Hall. This Hall, the spiritual center of their community, was the enormous lobby of their casino-hotel-church.

Each Sunday, he would number and chronicle the sins.

“Sin one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-seven: Noah slept well past noon and did not do his morning chores,” Jeb read. He smiled as he handed Noah a red token.

The gathering crowd mumbled their approval.

“Sin one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-eight: Jonah ate bread without giving thanks,” Jeb read.

“That isn’t a sin,” Cain complained. He was a young adult now, and only vaguely remembered the death of Kaila and Farma. “It was not a meal. One does not need to give thanks every time one eats some small morsel.”

“I’m too hungry to care,” Jonah rasped between dry, cracked lips.

– – –

The sunny days roasted the flesh and the windswept nights chilled it to the bone.

Years ago, after the power had gone out for the last time, a man named Herod had removed all the Bibles from the hotel rooms and burned them in trash cans inside a supermarket. He had appointed himself leader, and he’d thought this action would serve his people well. After all, people were more important than books.

The blaze kept everyone there warm all night. The previous night they had used menus and playing cards. Those hadn’t burned well because of their heavy lamination. They gave off sickening fumes and many people became ill. But the Bibles had burned splendidly. They kept everyone nice and warm.

Eventually the people turned against Herod. He hadn’t done anything wrong…. But still, they needed to vent their frustration with the world somehow, and his helpfulness – his patient optimism in the face of maddening despair – had become an annoyance.

A group assigned to the task tied him down outside of the tallest building in the city. Then they went up to the top and starting dropping things down on him out of a penthouse window. There was no special significance in this particular form of torture: it just seemed like the thing to do at the time. In the end, Herod was reduced to a pile of human slush embedded with a medley of broken everyday objects – everything from wine glasses to typewriters.

– – –

“You know the rules, Cain,” Jeb said. “If we all don’t agree that a particular act is a sin, then it has to be put to a vote.”

“Please, don’t,” begged Sarah, an emaciated woman with bleeding gums and many sores on her skin. “Let’s not waste time. I’m famished! The last thing I put in my mouth was a cockroach I’d caught. I gave thanks before I ate it, but I still threw up a minute later. I’m so hungry, I’ll die if I don’t get some food soon.”

“I don’t make the rules,” Jeb said. “I just count the sins. And I shall always do so, until the day we are all too weak to even move. It is my task. I answer to a higher power.” So saying, he looked up, as did everyone else in the Great Hall.

– – –

In the early days after the chaos started, the people in the town went more than a little crazy. The death of Herod set the pace for even more bizarre acts of cruelty, prejudice, and – more often than not – perverse righteousness.

Angry crowds strung up sinners from telephone wires, or burned them alive to appease ancient demons. They crucified the lawyers of the nameless city. Of course, back then it still had a name.

The city had been filled with lewd women with painted lips. Pious men would chain each limb of a woman to a different car, and then the vehicles would each drive toward a different point of the compass. They thought that perhaps this would give direction to their future. But that future was lost in a haze of heat and toxic fumes.

– – –

“We have to take a vote on it,” Jeb said. “All who think it was a sin for Jonah to eat without giving thanks must now say ‘Aye.'”

A loud, hungry round of ayes echoed through the hall. Jeb did not bother to ask to hear nays.

A young boy in the crowd gasped and fell to the floor. Sarah rushed to his side and cradled his head in her lap. “My son is weak from hunger,” she cried. “If we do not have some food soon, he will starve to death.”

Desperate for something – anything – with which to nourish her child, the woman picked a few large scabs off of her arm and pushed these into her son’s mouth. The boy gave thanks before he began to chew.

– – –

Years passed, and many people took to living in cars. There was no gasoline left, but they still loved and took pride in their vehicles.

All the cars in town were rolled toward the casino-hotel-churches. People weren’t allowed to live in these holy realms – they were a place for the purging of iniquities. Of course, that was before they realized the true value of sin.

The cars made nice little homes. To keep the cars cool during the day and warm at night, they buried them in the sand. They took out the engines to make more room. Families huddled in their cars, in the cozy darkness. It became traditional to fasten the baby’s cradle in place on the dashboard, so the wee one could reach up and play with the fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror. From this choice location within the car, the baby could also be entertained by watching the insects and vermin that crawled on the other side of the front windshield.

– – –

“It is agreed. Jonah did sin by not giving thanks for his morsel. That leaves the count at one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-eight,” Jeb handed Jonah a green token. “Is there any other sin I should record?”

The group was quiet. One could not make up a sin. For that, they would cut out one’s tongue, and fill the offending mouth with hot coals. There were words about that in those old Bibles – “a tongue for a tongue”? Something like that.

“I had indecent thoughts about Jezebel,” Matthew said. “I thought how delightful it would be to pleasure her for long hours, well into the night.”

“Yes, that is a sin,” Jeb said, writing it down quickly and handing Matthew a gold token. “That is sin one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine. Any more?”

– – –

Back when power was plentiful and vehicles were used for transportation, people paid good money to sin.

They watched half-naked women prance upon brightly lit stages. People use to gamble night and day. They danced, they gorged, they fought, they swore. There were even whorehouses on the outskirts of town. The brothels did not operate in secret – they were acknowledged businesses.

The country went up in smoke because they did not watch their sins.

During the crazy times, the people were less efficient when it came to dealing with sin. At times, they even wasted precious foodstuffs. Some sinners would be covered in honey and buried up to their necks in sand. They would let armies of red ants eat them alive. Thus would the ants gnaw away the sins of the world. Those tiny, industrious insects were the first sin-eaters.

But not the last.

When the Bibles were burned, one page – from the Book of Mark – had been caught by the wind and blown free. And this page told them a tale of wisdom. It told them all about Legion, a demon who was in fact a collective of evil spirits. Eventually they learned how to apply this wisdom to their lives, so that they might survive.

– – –

Jeb ignored the hungry growls of the crowd. “If no more sins are recorded, we must wait until the next Sunday when we meet.”

“But we can’t wait any longer,” Sarah said. “I must eat, and so must my boy! Please let us finish this.”

“I only follow the rules,” Jeb said. “My task is to count the sins. And since there are no more to count, I must conclude—”

“I pleasured myself,” blurted Barnabas, a thin, middle-aged man with missing teeth. “Just a few minutes before the meeting.”

The room was quiet.

“Thank you,” Jeb said. “That is indeed a sin.” He handed Barnabas a silver token. “We now officially have two-thousand.”

Robed acolytes came forth out of the shadows, pushing slender golden posts mounted on wheeled bases. They arranged these in a pattern throughout the Great Hall. Then they connected the posts with purple velvet robes, creating a long maze that looped around the sacred crap table.

“Everyone who has sinned, line up in the order of the number on your token. Everyone else, please step aside,” Jeb said.

After everyone had lined up, the acolytes came forth with buckets filled with ashes. They used the ash to write everyone’s numbers on their foreheads. Then they collected the tokens and piled them up on the crap table.

Jeb closed his eyes, thrust his hand into the pile, and grabbed a token.

The people in the velvet-roped line-up stared at Jeb with fearful eyes. And yet they also began to wipe drool from their eager mouths.

Jeb looked at the token he had selected. “Number one-hundred and thirty-eight.” He looked in the Book of Sins. “Here it is. ‘Adam drank alcohol until he became ill.’ Yes, he will do. Adam, step forward.”

Adam was a short, bald man who was sweating heavily.

“Please wait here,” Jeb said.

Jeb’s boss made him nervous. This privileged individual was the only person allowed to live in the casino-hotel-church. He lived alone in a high suite – nobody was allowed to go up except Jeb, after the count.

Jeb climbed the stairs, up and up and up.

The crowd waited.

Eventually Jeb’s boss followed his minion back to the hall.

The people, as always, gasped when they saw the boss. His was an appearance to which one could never become accustomed. His skin was as orange as the sun, and his slit-pupil eyes were bright green. His lips were bright red and his hair was long and black. He wore no clothes but carried a burlap sack.

He looked strange, yet in their sun-baked desert world, he did not seem out of place. In fact, he resembled a desert snake.

He was Legion, and he was many.

The people of the city without a name had given much discussion to Legion, for his page was all they had left of the Bible. Their thoughts had drawn him to them. When he’d arrived, he had struck a new bargain with them. A whole new system of vice management.

“Two-thousand sins….” the demon hissed, with a voice like a whispering congregation of evil. “A feast of sin for me. And now, a feast for you.”

Legion stared at Adam intently. The bald man began to swell, and he hunched over until he had to drop to all fours. Bristles popped out of his pink flesh, which grew thick and leathery. His neck bulged out, his eyes sank inward and his nose lengthened into a quivering snout.

The people of the nameless city brought out ropes and soon, they had the fat hog hanging by its hind legs from a beam above one of the stages. Legion pulled two objects from his sack. He stuck an apple in the pig’s mouth, and then handed a butcher knife to Sarah and allowed her to slit the beast’s throat.

“Again you have saved us,” she said.

The green-eyed sin-eater smiled and looked out over the Great Hall, at the sun-scorched, hunger-maddened masses. So many to share so little…. Some would not eat at all. In the end, most would only get a scrap of meat – enough to keep them alive and desperate in this Hell of their own making.

“Yes,” he said. “You are lucky to have me.”

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An Excerpt From HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos

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HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1791560520/
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1791560520/

Below is an excerpt from “The Thing From Beyond The Living Door” – one of the many tales in this paperback collection:

I asked Caspar about the scuttering sound and was surprised to learn that he’d actually witnessed its source. He hadn’t mentioned it to anyone because the whole incident was so outlandish, he’d figured that no one would believe him.
Shortly after midnight on a Saturday, he’d happened to be awake, watching a late movie with the sound turned down so it wouldn’t disturb other tenants. It was then that he heard the sound in the hallway. It only took a moment to cross to the door and open it.

He looked down the hall and there he saw it – a nimble, hideous thing, at least five feet long and three feet high. Caspar said that it looked like a starfish with seven legs, covered with black-velvet fur. It moved by running on the tips of its limbs, with its body held up in the air. On the top of its body, at the root of each limb, were flexible stalks that ended in glistening, spiderlike eyes, as red as rubies. He added that he could not see a mouth anywhere on the creature’s bizarre body.

The thing did not seem to notice him as it scuttered quickly down the hall. Caspar went back inside his room, but afterward, he wished he had followed to see where it was going.

“I have no idea what a thing like that could be,” I said. “It sounds like a weird cross between a land mammal and a sea-creature, but such a thing just doesn’t exist.”

“I know. It’s just impossible! I wouldn’t have told you about it if you hadn’t asked me about that noise.” Caspar shrugged. “I suppose it was all a dream. But still, can you smell things in a dream? That thing was close enough for me to smell it. Like ammonia.”

“Sometimes I smell ammonia in the halls,” I said. “I just assume Mrs. Veng has been doing some scrubbing.” I thought for a moment. “Can you show me where it might have gone after it ran off?”

 

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For Movie Lovers: The Top 10 Accidental Comedies Of All Time

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Every now and then, a movie comes along that was clearly meant to be a riveting, thrilling drama – but somewhere along the line, its creators went overboard and the movie inadvertently shifted into a comedic gear. That’s what I call an accidental comedy – a type of movie I dearly love. Below, I’ve listed what I consider to be the top 10 accidental comedies of all time. You can find most of these films on YouTube and/or DVD collections of vintage movies.

I’ve arranged these movies chronologically, since I’d be hard-pressed to arrange them by their quality. With movies like these, how can you tell which one is best … or worst? An early warning: Some of the write-ups below contain spoilers, so if there’s a movie in the list you haven’t seen yet and you want to be surprised, you might want to skip reading that particular paragraph.

MANIAC (1934) – When you think of cheap, sleazy horror movies, you don’t usually think of films from the 1930s. In that regard, watching MANIAC will expand your knowledge of movie history exponentially. Basically, this is a convoluted retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat,” featuring a mad doctor who wants to raise the dead. The doctor’s assistant kills him and then begins to impersonate him with zesty aplomb (I told you it was convoluted!). The assistant then shoots up a patient named Buckley with the wrong drug and before you know it, poor addled Buckley is dragging a half-naked corpse around the countryside. Somehow cats get roped into the action and, per the “Black Cat” plotline, a dead body in the wall makes a cameo appearance. The feverish wall-to-wall over-acting makes this an inadvertent comedy classic.

THE GIANT CLAW (1957) – At last there will come a day when the Earth has to face its greatest opponent: a giant space-bird that apparently lives to destroy. The whole world quakes with fear as this fine feathered extraterrestrial ruins lives, vehicles and real estate at a dizzying rate. We are told it is as big as a battleship, and that it came from an antimatter galaxy. It all sounds perfectly horrifying, but alas, cries of terror give way to gales of laughter when we see that the creature looks like a demented, googly-eyed, turkey-vulture piñata. Apparently, that was the best that the producer could afford…. But hey, maybe aliens DO look like demented, googly-eyed, turkey-vulture piñatas. Who can say?

BLACK SUNDAY (1960) – Many people consider BLACK SUNDAY to be a horror classic … and it is! It is an elegant production that tells a brooding tale of death, black magic, and revenge. Actress Barbara Steele is entrancing as the lovely, evil witch, Asa Vajda. I’m sure there are plenty of people who watch this movie without laughing. But, I’ve seen it many times, and the more you watch it, the more you realize that there’s waaay too much talky, repetitive exposition. Authoritative characters explain every little thing down to the last detail, and that evil witch should does like to gloat, monologuing with more gusto than the villain in any James Bond movie. This is one movie where the inadvertent humor grows on you with repeated viewings.

THE GREEN SLIME (1968) – This energetic American/Japanese production has one of the most exuberant theme songs you’ll ever hear, and certainly will never forget! The lyrics include these thought-provoking questions: “Is it something in your head? Will you believe it when you’re dead?” Astronauts are sent into space to destroy a huge asteroid heading toward Earth, and some green ooze from the surface of the asteroid smears on their outfits. After they blow up the asteroid, they return to their space station. The asteroid ooze soon grows into green, one-eyed monsters with tentacles, and while they try their best to be frightening, the aliens are really just goofy little Cthulhu-wannabes. There’s drama galore throughout the movie, but all the rubbery space-goobers are more of a humorous distraction than a threat.

GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER (1971) – Most old Godzilla movies have amusing aspects to them, and most of that humor relates to the rubbery suit of the title monster. In this one, the Smog Monster, also known as Hedorah, is even more bizarre and comical than Big G. Like the little space-goobers in THE GREEN SLIME, Hedorah is goofy, rubbery, and more adorable than abhorrent. In the big face-off at the end, Godzilla goes to such great lengths to finish off Hedorah that the battle takes on a distinctly wacky tone. The movie features a few short cartoon sequels with ecological messages, and those also add notes of whimsy to the movie.

INFRA-MAN (1975) – INFRA-MAN was certainly meant to be a fun movie, since the characters, for the most part, are bold and cartoonish. But, it was obviously written as a superhero action movie, as opposed to a comedy. A scientist turns a colleague into a bionic hero named Infra-Man to defend the world against the evil Princess Dragon Mom and her devilish mutant followers – namely, She Demon, Giant Beetle Monster, Octopus Mutant, Emperor of Doom, Driller Beast, Laser Horn Monster, and the twin Iron Fist Robots. The funniest aspect of the movie isn’t the action or the characters – it’s the grandiose dialogue. For example, when Princess Dragon Mom first addresses the Earth, she states: “Greetings to you, Earthlings! I am Princess Dragon Mom. I have taken over this planet. Now I own the Earth and you’ll be my slaves for all eternity!” Wow, nice way to greet her new neighbors. Later, the scientist tries to intimidate the forces of evil by saying, “No matter how potent your weapons are, you’ll be defeated because Infra-Man is invincible against them!” The entire movie is filled with this same high-power, hilarious degree of bravado.

EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (1977) – THE EXORCIST is considered one of the best horror movies of all time. EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, on the other hand, is considered one of the worst movies of all time … and rightly so. Linda Blair returns to her role as Regan, now recovered from her exorcism ordeal, and Richard Burton plays Philip Lamont, a troubled priest. Father Lamont has been sent by the church to investigate the original exorcism and Father Merrin’s death, which had resulted from that exorcism. The movie goes in many strange directions, and some are laughably bizarre. For example, locusts figure heavily into the plot. Who would have guessed? We find out the demon Pazuzu is a sort of locust demon, and that for reasons too lengthy to explain, Regan now knows how to perform a dance to drive off locust swarms! Also, there’s a machine called a Synchronizer that can align two people’s brainwaves, and the scene with that device is weird, wild and fairly ridiculous. I would like to add, even though it’s awful, I happen to enjoy many awful movies, and I’ve watched EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC at least a dozen times over the years.

CALIGULA (1979) – CALIGULA is a historical drama about a Roman emperor, and its stars include Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Sir John Gielgud. The movie also contains explicit orgy scenes (FYI, the distinguished performers named aren’t orgy participants). Surprised by all that adult content? Well, you probably shouldn’t be, since Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse magazine, was also a producer and director. CALIGULA’s most outrageous performances come from McDowell and O’Toole – both excel in their mad, lust-crazed roles. I suppose it’s a bit of a stretch to call it an accidental comedy … it’s more of an intentional porno. But I do think you’ll laugh at Peter O’Toole’s gloriously rambunctious performance. You’ll also laugh with surprise at many of this movie’s various naughty jests and antics.

MOMMIE DEAREST (1981) – Faye Dunaway played Joan Crawford in MOMMIE DEAREST, and certainly she sank her teeth into the role. The movie tells how Crawford was an abusive foster mother, as well as a compulsive perfectionist and neat-freak. She wanted to control every aspect of her world, and became overly upset when things didn’t go her way. The character’s behavior is so extreme that most viewers cannot help but laugh at her bombastic emotional excesses. The movie eventually became known as an unintentional comedy after its release. For that reason, the film has ascended to cult-movie status – an acknowledged best-of-the-worst classic.  

KING KONG LIVES (1986) – KING KONG LIVES is the sequel to the 1976 remake of the original KING KONG from 1933. In this sequel, we find out that after King Kong fell off the World Trade Center, he was kept alive in a coma at a facility called the Atlanta Institute. How did Kong’s fall from the World Trade Center not shatter his bones to bits? Darned if I know! Kong’s doctor, played by Linda Hamilton, wants to bring the big guy out of his long-term slumber, but he needs a major transfusion before that can happen. Eventually a female giant primate, Lady Kong, is found in the Borneo area and becomes the donor Kong needs. Once the blood situation is squared away, Kong is given a gigantic artificial heart and restored to a mobile lifestyle. Kong then gets mixed up with Lady Kong and sure enough, runs afoul of civilization again, escapes … and is marked for death. It took so much time and effort for us humans to wake him up, only for us to decide he needs to die. Humans sure are fickle! Along the way, Kong fathers an adorable Kong Jr. Aaaawww! KING KONG LIVES tickles me because it makes precious little sense … but still, it ambles and shambles along with carefree confidence.

There you have it – my list of the top ten accidental comedies of all time. I do want to stress, this list isn’t etched in stone. Certainly I’ve seen thousands of movies over the years, but I know I haven’t seen every movie ever made. But rest assured, I’m working on it!

 

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New Novel: APOCALYPSE AMERICA!

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APOCALYPSE AMERICA! by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin. New Novel, FREE on Kindle Unlimited:
US: www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFGK36Y 
UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QFGK36Y

Flesh-eating dust mites, Internet Witches, murderous robots, giant scorpions, Biblical demons and sophisticated cannibals – these horrors and more inhabit the future ruins of the United States in the new novel, APOCALYPSE AMERICA! by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin.

Following a devastating nuclear war, America is thrown into chaos. Malevolent Internet Witches use their monstrous cyber-magic to attack the country through its computers. The last hope for humanity rests with Cain, a post-apocalyptic nomad who is determined to find a legendary paradise known as Eden. Cain is joined on his trek by new friends: Galileo, a surgically enhanced rabbit with a human mind; a brilliant robot named RT-Fax; and Miranda, a downloaded Internet Witch who has discovered the joys of being human.

The group is pursued on their journey by the Shadow Man, the demon Legion, and various minions of the Internet Witches. The friends travel across America in search of Eden, and learn that the country has become a dizzying patchwork of bizarre compounds, whose inhabitants are desperate, dangerous, and sometimes, not even human.

Cain and his friends also learn more about why America is hovering on the brink of ruin. Before long, they have reason to believe they can repair the damage and restore the country to its former glory. Can they access the secrets of Eden and save the Earth, before all living things are destroyed?

McCarty’s books include LOST GIRL OF THE LAKE (coauthored by Joe McKinney), CONVERSATIONS WITH KRESKIN, and MODERN MYTHMAKERS: 35 INTERVIEWS WITH HORROR AND SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS AND FILMMAKERS.

McLaughin’s latest paperback releases are EMPRESS OF THE LIVING DEAD: 25 TALES OF HORROR & THE BIZARRE, and the Lovecraftian story collections, HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS and THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT & MORE LOVECRAFTIAN NIGHTMARES, both coauthored by Michael Sheehan, Jr.

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New Paperback – Empress Of The Living Dead: 25 Tales Of Horror & The Bizarre

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Empress Of The Living Dead: 25 Tales Of Horror & The Bizarre by Mark McLaughlin

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1798060434/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1798060434/

EMPRESS OF THE LIVING DEAD collects 25 stories of horror and dark fantasy by Bram Stoker Award-winning author Mark McLaughlin. These stories are compiled in a paperback edition from three previous Kindle collections by McLaughlin — FOREIGN TONGUE, DRUNK ON THE WINE THAT POURS FROM MY WICKED EYES, and MAGIC CANNOT DIE. “Empress Of The Living Dead,” a tale of cult movies and zombies, completes this collection.

The stories in this book abound with monsters, supernatural beings, aliens, practitioners of magic, kaiju, tentacled creatures and more. Stories in the collection include “Empress Of The Living Dead,” “Cold-Blooded,” “The Vainglorious Simulacrum Of Mungha Sorcyllamia: A Weird Romance,” “Foreign Tongue,” “The Astonishing Secret Of The King Of The Cats,” “Zombies Are Forever,” “Silky, Slinky, Fabulous – To Die For,” “The Prince Of Dreadful Magick,” “Why Cosmo Used To Wear A Lab Smock Every Halloween,” “The Nightmare Quadrant: The Legacy Of Alphonse Sweetwater-DuBois,” and many more.

McLaughlin is the author of HIDEOUS FACES, BEAUTIFUL SKULLS and BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM, among other horror collections. With Michael Sheehan, Jr., he has co-authored the Lovecraftian paperbacks, THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT and HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS, as well as the Kindle collections, THE ABOMINATIONS OF NEPHREN-KA, THE HORROR IN THE WATER TOWER, THE BLASPHEMY IN THE CANOPIC JAR, SHOGGOTH APOCALYPSE, THE RELIC IN THE EGYPTIAN GALLERY, THE CREATURE IN THE WAXWORKS, THE TESTAMENT OF CTHULHU, and STAINLESS STEEL SARCOPHAGUS.

 

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THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT & More Lovecraftian Nightmares

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THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1795518367/
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1795518367/

THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT presents tales of Lovecraftian fantasy and horror, as well as an epic poem regarding the return of Nyarlathotep to the modern world. Most of these adventures have only been available so far on Kindle. This paperback collection is a companion volume to HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS, and has been released for readers who prefer holding books, as opposed to devices.

Stories in this collection include “The House Of The Ocelot,” “Queen Of The Vultures,” “The Foul One Lives To Destroy: A Tale Of The Dreamlands,” “Shoggoth Apocalypse,” “The Glorious Return Of Herbert West,” “The Last Witch-House,” “Stainless Steel Sarcophagus,” and many more.

The collection also includes the epic poem, “The Arrival Of Our New Master: A Lovecraftian Armageddon.” People believe that Caliban Storm, son of wealthy Bernard Storm, offers the wisdom and guidance that the world has needed for so long. But in truth, there is something very wrong with handsome young Caliban. He is in fact an avatar of Nyarlathotep, a malevolent deity also known as the Crawling Chaos. Caliban Storm presents the world with a series of amazing technological advances as he rises in power. But, each advance comes with monstrous surprises, and it soon becomes apparent that Caliban has a nightmare agenda in store for the Earth….

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