PYRAMID OF THE SHOGGOTHS: Novelette with Bonus Story


A Lovecraftian Adventure Novelette with Bonus Story:

PYRAMID OF THE SHOGGOTHS by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. FREE on Kindle Unlimited:

PYRAMID OF THE SHOGGOTHS, a Lovecraftian novelette, is a modern-day sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, “At The Mountains Of Madness.” This Kindle release also includes “The Black-And-White House,” a tale of The King in Yellow.

In “Pyramid Of The Shoggoths,” Miskatonic University instructor Omar Vardek is given a rare book by his assistant Chrystal. Through the book, he discovers the true location of the burial chamber of Queen Nerfertiti. Omar and Chrystal begin an adventure that takes them to a strange subterranean realm in Africa. There they meet Balyphus, the last Elder Thing remaining on Earth, and his inhuman companion, the British ghoul Williams. They soon learn that Williams isn’t the Elder Thing’s only friend. Balyphus has created a troop of rampaging shoggoths that can destroy anything in their path – including human weaponry.

In “The Black-And-White House,” a young writer named Lewis decides to escape from noisy neighbors, once and for all. He rents a secluded little house and for the first time in years, he is able to enjoy peace and quiet. But soon, he discovers that he is not alone in the house. An author who had once lived in the house never really left, and he wants Lewis to help him with an impossible task: writing a sequel to the accursed book, The King In Yellow, which drives anyone who reads it insane.


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“The Power Of Azalareon” — A Story From HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS


The Power Of Azalareon

by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Mamie Saunders walked along the beach, scanning the sand with her metal detector. So far, the morning had been good to her. She’d found about six dollars in loose change, as well as a nice gold bracelet. She wasn’t sure if the chain was made of actual gold, but it looked nice on her wrist, and that’s what really counted. She wasn’t hurting for money. She just liked scanning the beach because it gave her something interesting to do.

She lived in a stone tower that had once been a lighthouse, generations ago, back when the nearby village of Gilman’s Cove had been a larger community with a robust business district. But, the accursed town of Innsmouth was just a few miles away, and the profound troubles of this larger neighbor had cast their shadow on nearby villages. Over the years, Gilman’s Cove had dwindled to just a few random homes and shops, and the services of the lighthouse were no longer required.

Every now and then, couples from Innsmouth would visit the beach and hold picnics near her tower. It was a lovely stretch of beach, so it was no surprise that people wanted to spend time there. And even though the Innsmouth visitors never caused any problems, she still hated them. She hated their thin hair, sloping foreheads and receding chins – and she was thoroughly repulsed by their thick, wet lips and their equally wet, protruding eyes.

Of course, she had to admit that she herself wasn’t exactly a beauty queen. She wrote romance novels as her profession, and sitting for hours, typing and nibbling on constant snacks, wasn’t the sort of routine that led to the trim figure that so many of her heroines enjoyed. Often, she would look in the mirror and wonder what she would look like, if only she weighed a good forty pounds less. She had long, beautiful blonde tresses, but no one was asking her to let down her hair, Rapunzel-style.

Her tower, like most lighthouses, was located on a high point of the terrain – a cliff overlooking the ocean. From where she stood on the beach, she could see the mouth of the cave far below her tower’s cliff. She’d never entered the cave, even though it was on her land. It was partially submerged in water and surrounded by sharp rocks, so trying to reach the cave would have been quite an ordeal. But still, she liked to imagine what might be found in the cave. Pirate treasure, perhaps … wooden chests filled with magnificent gems and ancient gold coins.

She noticed a thin young man heading her way, walking from the direction of the village. He wore a long black coat and a heavy dark-red scarf. He had brown, curly hair and a wide, slightly lopsided smile.

“Hello there!” she shouted. “Can I help you with something?”

“I’m looking for a lighthouse!” he said, trotting up to her. He pointed toward her home. “And hey, there it is. Is it yours?”

“Sure is!” she said. “My name’s Mamie. What can I do for you?” She noticed that he was carrying a pen and notebook. Was he a writer, too?

“My name’s Simon Booth. I’m doing research on some local history. I’m majoring in Comparative Religion at Miskatonic University.”

Mamie smiled. “What kind of job will that major get you?”

He returned the smile. “Teaching Comparative Religion, naturally! I’m writing a paper on the worship of Dagon in Innsmouth, and–”

“Is that wise? The cult of Dagon is still active. That might not be the best topic to investigate.”

“I know what you’re getting at,” Simon said, “but actually, that portion of my research is finished. I had to interview a lot of sketchy folks. A few of them … I’m not even sure if they could be called human. I had some close calls. Now I need to do some exploring in this area to finish my project.”

“Do all students these days have to work so hard just to write a paper?”

Simon shook his head. “No, I just love the topic. I tend to throw myself into my projects.”

Mamie nodded. She liked this guy: he had guts. Pity he was way too young for her. “Let’s go inside. I’ll brew up some coffee and you can tell me about this exploring you need to do.”

Inside, Mamie led Simon to the kitchen and asked him to take a seat at the kitchen table while she made the coffee. She enjoying doing it the old-fashioned way, grinding the beans herself and using a stovetop percolator. “So what do you need to explore? If it’s this lighthouse, don’t bother. It’s not that interesting…. But, I love it. It’s home.”

“Actually, I’m interested in the cave beneath your tower,” Simon said. “At one time, it served as a place of worship for the god, Azalareon. I recently interviewed a man from Innsmouth, a worshiper of Dagon, who’s a little over eighty years old. He said he had attended a ritual in the cave, about fifty-five years ago.”

“He was over eighty – and still lived on land?” Mamie asked.

“I see you know more than most folks about Innsmouth ways,” Simon replied, surprised. “Yes, most of Dagon’s worshipers go to live in the sea in what would be considered their senior years. This particular man put off his transition because he had to care for his grandchildren. He never left the house – the kids took care of all the errands. He looked more like an enormous frog than a human being.”

“Good of him to help his grandchildren that way. I would’ve thought he’d abandon them and head out to sea.” Mamie handed him a mug of coffee and joined him at the table. She took two cubes from the sugar bowl and popped them in her own mug. “Help yourself to sugar. So this man had once attended a ritual in the cave?”

“Yes. He was taken to the ritual by his parents, who were members of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Apparently, they were curious about the cult of Azalareon.” Simon sampled his drink and grinned. “Delicious – thank you! Doesn’t even need sugar. It already has a unique sweetness to it. You should open a coffee shop.”

“You’re very kind. I soaked the beans in cherry brandy with a touch of honey. I’m afraid I have an awful sweet tooth. So what happened at this ritual?”

“The cult members presented a robed victim to the creature they worshiped. He said their god looked like a huge, worm-like thing with a hide covered with, as he put it, ‘little boneless fingers.’ It crawled up on the green stone altar and swallowed the sacrifice whole.” He took another swig from his mug. “He told me the thing was about the size of a limousine. Nice comparison, but not exactly a luxury ride for the victim.”

“I don’t know about the god, but it would be fantastic to see that altar,” Mamie said. “The problem is, it’s impossible to get into the cave. The entrance is mostly underwater and it’s surrounded by sharp rocks. Do you really want to risk getting past all that, just for a paper?”

“I don’t have to!” Simon said. “The old man said there’s a door to the cave hidden in your basement. That’s why I came to see you. I’d like to know if I can enter the basement and look for that door.”

“Oh yes, certainly! But I’ve been in that basement hundreds of times. I can’t believe there could be a door down there that I haven’t seen.” She finished her coffee and stood up. “Let’s look right now! I hope we find that door because I’m dying to see that green altar!” She crossed to the kitchen sink and started looking in the oak cabinet above it. “Here we go! My best flashlight.  Is there anything else you think we’d need?”

“Boots?” Simon said. “If we manage to find the door and enter the cave, it would be wet down there.”

“I have galoshes in the basement.” She looked at his feet. “Mine would fit you. I’ve got big feet! Come on, let’s go.” She walked to the door at the head of the basement stairs and turned on the lights.

“This is exciting!” Simon said as they descended the stairs. “We’ve just met and already we’ve got an adventure cooking!”

“An adventure? Oooh, I can’t remember the last time I had an adventure. It’s seems like I’ve been puttering around this old lighthouse since the day I was born.” At the base of the stairs, she looked through a large box of odds and ends. “Ah, here are the galoshes. Might as well put them on now. If we find the door, we’ll want to pass through it right away. Besides, it’s mucky down here and I don’t want you to ruin your shoes.”

Mamie and Simon slipped on the galoshes and searched the basement, looking behind the dozens of boxes stacked against the walls. The warped floorboards creaked under their weight. At one point, while shuffling across the floor, Simon stumbled, kicking up a corner of a matted brown rug.

“Are you okay?” Mamie asked.

“Yeah. I almost fell down, but I’m fine,” Simon said. “These boots are too big for me.”

“Oh, dear. I knew I had big feet, but I didn’t think they’d be that much bigger than yours.”

“Don’t feel bad. I just have small feet – my dad did, too.” He straightened out the rug. “Hey, have you ever looked under this thing before?”

“No. It was there when I moved in. It’s so filthy I don’t want to touch it.”

Simon pulled up the rug. It was stuck to the boards at different points, but he finally managed to remove it, piling the dirt-encrusted mess against the wall. He pointed at the exposed area. “Look, there’s our door!”

A wooden hatch had been built into the floor. Instead of a knob, a hinged brass ring was set into the hatch. Simon pulled up on the ring, revealing a stone stairway.

Mamie turned on the flashlight. “Do you want to lead, or shall I?”

Simon waved toward the opening. “It’s your property. Go ahead.”

The steps were coated with a thin, dark layer of slime or mold, so Mamie kept a hand on the wall to support herself as she walked down into the earth.

“So what is this Azalareon?” she said. “A monster? A demon?” The walls of the stairway were solid stone. Who had gone to all the trouble of chiseling a passageway out of solid stone? Whatever Azalareon was, its cult seemed to have some extremely dedicated members.

“Azalareon might just be an oceanic mutant that ignorant people have fed and pampered and adored as a god,” Simon said. ‘Perhaps it had been found by some members of the Esoteric Order of Dagon and they’d decided it needed worshipers.”

“But would it still be alive after all these years?” They had reached the base of the stairs, and now Mamie was shining her flashlight in a wide arc to check out their surroundings.

Before them stretched a huge cave. The ceiling and walls were covered with a thick layer of black slime, while the floor was submerged under swirling dark water. They stood on a rusted metal platform by the side of the water. An equally rusted, narrow bridge led to an island in the center of the cave. The enormous green stone altar that stood upon the island glittered in the light. It appeared to be covered with hundreds of small crystals.

As Mamie stared at the altar, an overpowering sense of déjà vu swept over her. Obviously she had never been in the cave before, and yet why did the altar seem so horribly familiar?

“So that altar … that’s where the sacrifice happened?” she whispered. “According to that old man?”

Simon nodded. “Yep. That’s where the Saunders woman died.”

“What? That’s my last name! What was her first name?”

“I don’t know. The old man didn’t say.”

Mamie began to breathe faster. “Oh, dear. Suddenly I feel sort of … dizzy. Maybe you’d better take the flashlight. I need to sit down.”

Simon took the flashlight from her. “There’s no place to sit here. It’s all rust and slime. Take my hand. I’ll clean a spot for us on that altar.”

Holding her hand, Simon guided Mamie across the bridge to the island. “Careful,” he said, “everything’s slippery.”

“So this … god,” she said. “This Azalareon. What can it do?”

“‘Do’? What do you mean?”

“Does it have any special powers? Does it fly? Open gateways to other planets? Things like that?”

“Good question. The old man said it was able to change reality to meet its needs, but that could mean anything. I mean, technically, a person changes reality when he does the dishes or switches the channel.” He passed the beam of the flashlight over her face for a moment. “You’re looking pretty pale. Hang on, we’re almost there.”

Once they reached the altar, Simon pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped off a section of green stone. “There we are….”

He turned around and shined the flashlight at Mamie again.

But she wasn’t there.

Instead, he found himself staring into the hungry open maw of what appeared to be a gigantic albino sea cucumber. Its fleshy white body was covered with thousands of writhing cilia. Azalareon lunged forward, forcing Simon down onto the altar. He tried to push the horror away and his hand slipped into its mouth. Its swollen lips immediately closed around his wrist. Soon his hand felt like it was being bathed in acid. When he was finally able to pull it out, the flesh had been dissolved away and steaming bones were all that remained.

Azalareon slipped its gaping maw over Simon’s head. It continued to work more and more of the young man’s body into its ravenous mouth, until at last it had encased its victim, just as a hungry python eases a young goat through its expandable jaws to consume it.

Azalareon heaved its bloated body onto the altar to sleep. The god did not feed often, but when it did, it fed well and needed to rest afterward.

Hours later, the sleeper awoke.

The thing now resembled Simon in every way. The flashlight had died, but he did not need the light to find its way back out of the cave and into the building’s living quarters.

Naked and dripping with slime, Simon walked to the bathroom and took a long, refreshing shower. When he was finished, he slipped on his bathrobe. He wondered, for just a brief moment, why his plaid bathrobe was hanging from a hook on the back of the door in this strange bathroom…. But the thought passed almost immediately.

Everything in the lighthouse now belonged to Simon, including the lighthouse itself. Reality had changed to meet his needs.

Later, as he ground the sweetened beans to make his coffee, he thought for a moment about changing the theme of his paper to a comparison of Catholics to Protestants. But then he thought … what paper? It’s not like he was taking any classes. He never went to the city.

He lived alone in the tower outside of Gilman’s Cove. It wasn’t all that interesting, but he loved it.

It was home.


HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. is available as a 248-page paperback on


Be sure to visit and Like — the Facebook page for Lovecraftian books and ebooks by McLaughlin and Sheehan.

“The Power Of Azalareon” by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. ©2018 Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

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THE IDOL IN THE HEDGE MAZE: A Lovecraftian Novelette


THE IDOL IN THE HEDGE MAZE: A Lovecraftian Novelette by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. FREE on Kindle Unlimited:

THE IDOL IN THE HEDGE MAZE is a modern-day sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, “The Shadow Out Of Time.” It tells the tale of mega-wealthy Neil Prentiss, founder and CEO of PrenTek, a multinational technology company. He lives in a magnificent mansion surrounded by a sprawling hedge maze. He has everything a person could want in today’s world … but he is dying of cancer.

While examining the journals of the mansion’s previous owner, Neil learns how to contact a member of the Great Race of Yith, an ancient society of brilliant, monstrous beings. The Yithian offers what seems to be a high-tech solution to Neil’s problems, and the intrepid businessman decides to proceed with the creature’s plan. Along the way, Neil invites his trusted childhood friend Zander to come and stay with him. Zander soon realizes that the Yithian’s extraordinary kindness and generosity may actually hide a shocking ulterior motive….


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LOVECRAFT 101: The Basics Of Cthulhu Mythos Fiction


by Mark McLaughlin

Because I’ve written many Cthulhu Mythos stories, people often ask me questions about the creator of the Mythos, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. They usually know that he was an author from an earlier time and that his fiction is still fairly popular. They often ask which of his stories are the best ones to read to get a better understanding of his work. Launching into Lovecraft’s work for the first time can be daunting, since his tales are set in such an elaborate fictional universe.

Discovering the works of H.P. Lovecraft is like finding a yellowed treasure map stuck in a dusty old book. The more you study it, the more you find yourself wondering: Could this be real? Have I come across something truly magical?

Lovecraft wrote wild, complex tales of fantasy, science-fiction and horror, and certainly, for many readers they do seem magical. Lovecraft also possessed a talent for generating convincing details, creating a world that could seem surprisingly genuine, when combined with his fervent style. That’s why his stories are still being read today, and will be read for years to come.

Lovecraft was born August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. His most memorable stories appeared in Weird Tales and other horror and science-fiction pulp magazines, mostly in the 1920s and ‘30s. They were called pulp magazines because they were usually printed on a cheap grade of wood-pulp paper.

Lovecraft’s top stories include “The Dunwich Horror,” “The Call of Cthulhu,” “At the Mountains of Madness,” “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” and “The Colour Out of Space.” If a person wants to read Lovecraft, those are great stories to start with, since they all contain a substantial amount of background information. Lovecraft also excelled at poetry, and his greatest achievement in that field was a sequence of sonnets known as “Fungi From Yuggoth.” The money he made from writing did little to support him, and he had to rely in part on a family inheritance. He died in poverty at age 46 on March 15, 1937.

Many of Lovecraft’s protagonists were scholars, mystics and explorers. They didn’t seem to have or need day-jobs. You won’t find any hardware store owners, advertising executives, or interior decorators in his works! There are some female characters in Lovecraft’s stories, but not many. That may be because there weren’t many women in his life, though he did work with female writers in his role as a ghost-writer. He eventually married one of his writer friends – a businesswoman named Sonia Greene. It was a short-lived marriage, but they cared deeply for each other.

Most of Lovecraft stories are set in the fictional city of Arkham, Massachusetts, home of the equally fictional Miskatonic University. Arkham is loosely based on Salem, Massachusetts. Lovecraft’s best-known creation is undoubtedly Cthulhu, the cosmic entity introduced in the story “The Call of Cthulhu,” which appeared in Weird Tales in 1928. Cthulhu was a gigantic monstrosity of alien origins. His scaly, bulbous head featured a beard of tentacles, and his flabby, dragon-like body included long wings and fierce talons.

Lovecraft’s friend, writer August Derleth, named Lovecraft’s monster-mythology the Cthulhu Mythos. The mythos included multiple creatures divided into specific groups – the Outer Gods, the Great Old Ones, the Great Ones, and the Elder Gods. The Outer Gods are ruled by the daemon-sultan Azathoth, who holds court at the center of the cosmos. His entourage includes Yog-Sothoth, who co-rules with Azathoth and appears as a mass of iridescent globes. The messenger of the court is Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos. The court of Azathoth includes the female nature deity Shub-Niggurath, known as the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.

Other deities in the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft include the Great Old Ones, a group of ancient, alien entities who once ruled the Earth and have since become dormant, but can still make their influence felt. The most prominent of these deities is the aforementioned Cthulhu, who sank with his temple on the island of R’lyeh to the ocean floor. But someday, it is said, when the stars are right, the island will rise again and Cthulhu will be let loose, to infect the world with his madness.

The Great Ones are the minor gods of Earth who rule the Dreamlands – the domain of dreams, mentioned in many Lovecraft stories. The deity Nyarlathotep protects the Great Ones. When Nyarlathotep visits our world, he sometimes appears as a tall man who resembles an Egyptian Pharaoh. He can also take on many other appearances – mostly monstrous.

After Lovecraft’s death, August Derleth tried to arrange Lovecraft’s deities, and some of his own creations, into groups of good vs. evil, or even the elements of earth, air, fire and water. His Elder Gods were supposed to be ‘good’ gods. But, Lovecraft’s creations were never meant to be neatly divided into good and evil forces, like Christian angels and demons. With the possible exception of the more sophisticated Nyarlathotep, the majority of Lovecraft’s entities were bestial and amoral.

At the center of most of Lovecraft’s stories is the Necronomicon, a fictional chronicle and guide to mythology and magic. The book made its premiere in Lovecraft’s 1924 story, “The Hound.” Allegedly, anyone who read the book went mad because of all its arcane secrets. The author of the Necronomicon was Abdul Alhazred, a reclusive poet of the deserts who worshiped Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.

The name Abdul Alhazred was actually a pseudonym that a very young Lovecraft enjoyed using after reading 1,001 Arabian Nights. Many readers of Cthulhu Mythos tales have believed the Necronomicon to be a real book, and to this day, libraries and bookstores still receive queries, asking if they have any copies available.

Lovecraft was probably inspired to create the Necronomicon by Robert W. Chambers’ book, The King in Yellow, which features a book of evil also named The King in Yellow. Like the Necronomicon, The King in Yellow drives its readers insane once they’ve read it. Lovecraft absorbed many aspects of The King in Yellow into his fiction. He also encouraged others to write about his characters, monsters, and mysterious settings … and decades later, many of today’s horror writers still do, including myself.

If you’d like to see some of the Cthulhu Mythos books I’ve written over the years, take a look at many of the other blog entries on this website. You can also check out my author’s page at Amazon:

Many of my latest tales of Lovecraftian horror, co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr., can be found in these collections:

HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos. Paperback available on Amazon:

THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT & More Lovecraftian Nightmares. Paperback available on Amazon:

CITY OF LIVING SHADOWS & More Lovecraftian Tales. Paperback available on Amazon:


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“The Gateway to Carcosa” – A Story from HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS


Below you will find the story, “The Gateway to Carcosa,” from the Lovecraftian fiction collection, HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.  Enjoy!

The paperback collection is available on Amazon: 

You can also watch a reading of this story at:

The Gateway To Carcosa

by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa, where black stars hang in the heavens, where the shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the Lake of Hali, and my mind will bear forever the memory of the Pallid Mask.

– Robert W. Chambers, “The Repairer Of Reputations”

As Ethan drove his midnight-blue Cadillac into the parking lot of the Aylesbury Public Library, he noticed something odd about the ivy-draped brick building. The frames of the doors and windows were all painted gold-metallic. He thought it seemed like an overly flashy touch for a humble small-town library in Massachusetts. But then, he pondered, why did a library have to be considered humble? Maybe there was something marvelous inside. Perhaps even regal. Certainly, that was what he hoped.

He had no problem finding a parking space near the front door: only one other car was in the lot. He entered the library and wondered if they’d forgotten to turn on some of the lights. The interior of the building was unusually dim. The windows were located high on the walls, and the slant of the sunlight coming in didn’t seem to reach the floor.

He soon saw the driver of the other vehicle. Clearly it had to be the librarian at the front desk. She was a slender, pale woman with dark, sleepy eyes. Her long black hair hung down from her scalp like a wet curtain. For one unnerving moment, she seemed to resemble a drowning victim, risen from the depths. She looked up with a polite smile and the illusion passed.  

He walked up to the desk. “Good morning. My name is Roger Clarence. I understand you have a rare book here entitled The King In Yellow. Would it be possible for me to look at it today?”

The clerk’s smile drooped into an expressive frown. “Look at it?” Her voice was surprisingly low and raspy. “Do you not intend to read it?”

“Well, of course I intend to read it,” he said. “That goes without saying.”

“Not necessarily,” she said. “If you only wanted to give it a cursory examination, I could grant such a request immediately. But if you wish to sit down and read it, I will first need to acquire the permission of the Executive Director. Then I will need to set up a private room in which you can read it, free of distractions.”

What distractions? Roger wondered. The place is empty except for the two of us. “Sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, I intend to read it. If you need to call your Director, go ahead.”

“The Executive Director is in the building,” she said, “but he’s very busy. I’ll tell him you wish to read the book. I’ll see what can be done for you. In the meantime, you’re free to look around, of course.”

“Thank you, I will.”

Roger began to wander through the dim rows of books. It soon became apparent that the facility’s collection was mediocre at best. His favorite library, located on the campus of Arkham’s Miskatonic University, had a larger and more extensive selection, but the one thing it did not have was a copy of The King In Yellow, which he needed to see.

He only knew a few facts about the book. The text was the script of a two-act play set in the mythical city of Carcosa, near the mist-shrouded lake of Hali. The title character was a supernatural entity, apparently both a demon and royalty, who interacts with two women of the city, Camilla and Cassilda. And, Roger’s elderly father, Graham, had spent his final years in a private mental institution because he had read the book all the way through.

For several months before he died, Graham pleaded with Roger to help find the key to the Gateway to Carcosa. The old man had read the book at the library in his hometown of Aylesbury and by reading the book, he knew there was a Gateway to this ancient, beautiful city.

“If I could show people the Gateway,” Graham had said, “they would know I am not insane. Help me find the Key. Once I have it, the Gateway will present itself to me. Then I can show it to others. They will know there’s nothing wrong with me. People say reading The King In Yellow can drive a person insane. I say it can reveal the path to the wonderful reality beyond the world we know. Be my clever boy, Roger. Find the Key.”

If only he hadn’t laughed when his father told him those things. He couldn’t help but laugh: it all sounded so silly … so theatrical and bizarre. The look on Graham’s face was the definitive image of despair. The next day, the old man killed himself by cutting his own throat with a broken bottle.

Roger realized too late that he had destroyed his father by not believing him. But what if Graham had been right?

Clearly Roger needed to know the truth about The King In Yellow. The only way to do so would be to find the book and try it figure it all out.

As he wandered through the library, he passed the entrance of a hallway which seemed darker than most. As he looked down the hall, he noticed a metallic gleam. The gleam then shifted and took the form – or rather, the silhouette – of a tall, robed man wearing an elaborate crown, or perhaps headdress. The silhouette seemed to be cut from a sheet of burnished gold. It shifted again and within a second, disappeared from sight.  

He walked down the hall, hoping to catch sight of the gold silhouette again. He noticed a door with a window of frosted glass at the far end. The glass glowed pale gold. Was the room beyond lit by a yellow bulb? That didn’t make any sense. The builders had probably installed yellow glass in the door’s window – perhaps for the same odd reason that had compelled them to paint the outside window and door frames gold-metallic.

He turned to walk back to the bookstacks, but instead found himself entering a large hallway from which branched dozens of smaller halls. This can’t be right, he thought. The building isn’t big enough. This doesn’t make sense.

He crossed the major hall to enter a smaller one, and again found himself staring at the gleaming silhouette of burnished gold. This time, the silhouette was closer, and he noticed a thin slit running down the middle of the metal sheet. Like before, the vision shifted and disappeared. He walked down this hall and at its end, found another door with a glowing pane of glass.

He walked back to the main hallway and found, to his confusion, that it was now much narrower. He walked briskly up the hallway, passing dozens of side halls. Finally he stopped. The distance he’d walked had to be at least four times longer than the actual building, and yet he wasn’t making any progress.

This place isn’t big enough to be a labyrinth, he thought. There’s no way I can be lost, yet I am. Maybe I just need to call out to the librarian. She can tell me what’s happening.

“Miss?” he shouted. “Miss, can you hear me?”

He waiting, listening, but couldn’t hear a thing. He glanced down a side hall and saw the glint of gold again. He hurried toward it. Soon it became the gold silhouette, shaped like a crowned man – but before it came within reach, it shifted and disappeared.

He continued walking and sure enough, there was another door with glowing glass. Clearly his only option was to pass through. He was about to grab the knob when the door was opened from the other side.

“Oh, there you are,” said the dark-haired librarian. “Sorry I took so long. The Executive Director is very busy today, so I had wait a while for him to see me. Come right in.”

Speechless and confused, Roger nodded and entered what appeared to be a simple office with a wooden desk and chair, as well as several filing cabinets. He took just a moment to examine the glass in the door and it was indeed tinted a light shade of amber.

“Is there something wrong with the glass?” the librarian said with a frown.

Roger shrugged. “No, not  at all.” He noticed she held a sheaf of papers. “What do you have there?”

“The book, of course.” She set the sheaf on the desk. “Or rather, photocopies of the pages. We keep these copies on hand to satisfy requests like yours. The book is too valuable to allow people to handle it. The Executive Director said you can read it in this form.” She tapped the sheaf with her forefinger. “I should add, this is a photocopy of the true, unaltered edition. Years ago, a gentleman asked to read the book. At the time, we also owned an inferior copy from an edited printing. Our current Director wasn’t working here then, so we didn’t recognize it for what it was. The imperfect edited version left out vital knowledge, and sadly, it left left the reader in question so confused … so addled.… Let’s just say the results were not optimal.”

With a sad smile, she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Roger sat down and began to read.

The hours passed as he pored over page after page of The King In Yellow. He soon found himself entranced by the customs, rituals and pageantry of the mythical city of Carcosa. The play was written so beautifully, with such soul-flaying tenderness, that he found himself brought to tears many times.

As he neared the end of Act One, he began to wonder if in fact, Carcosa was the real sharp-edged world and his own dull reality was the myth. He learned about the Pallid Mask and the cries it made in the Tower that Ascends Forever. He read on into Act Two, even as the walls of the room began to fade away. He did not question the fact that the room’s door was still standing. Its pane of amber glass shone like a warm, inviting dawn. Heavy mists from the Lake of Hali encircled him. Overhead, three moons drifted into view in an impossible sky flecked with black stars.

The gold silhouette appeared before him, and having read about the King and the Pallid Mask, he knew now: this was the Gateway to Carcosa. His father had only read the edited version, and so, did not know what he was asking when he asked Roger to find the Key for him.

Roger could never have handed him the Key to the Gateway because in fact, the Key was Death.

Roger walked to the amber glass and shattered it with his fist. Taking up a shard, he ran the sharp edge across his throat. Hot blood spurted from his neck, but he didn’t feel any pain. The slit down the middle of the Gateway opened up and the two halves swung open.

Ahead, he saw his father standing in a glorious garden. A robe of white silk was draped around his narrow shoulders. Behind him, flowering vines crept up a gold-metallic trellis. By his side stood a fine-boned, silver-haired woman, holding an exquisite blood-red orchid. A peacock of gleaming midnight-blue strutted toward her. She extended the flower and laughed as the bird pecked it to shreds.

Tears of happiness streaming down his face, Roger hurried through the Gateway.

The old man looked his way and smiled. “Look, Cassilda!” cried the old man. “My Roger has found the Key! What a clever boy!”

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Top 13 Lovecraftian Movies NOT Based on Lovecraft


by Mark McLaughlin

There are plenty of great movies based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu Mythos. And, there a lot of great movies of a Lovecraftian nature that aren’t based on his stories – but they have a lot in common with his works, so they are often associated with him.

What elements make a movie appear to be Lovecraftian? Basically, if the movie features any of the usual trappings one might find in a Cthulhu Mythos story, that will forge the connection in the minds of viewers. Those elements can include:

  1. Hideous life-forms with tentacles and/or misshapen bodies. These life-forms can include otherworldly gods with strange, polysyllabic names. Monstrous, otherworldly oceanic beings also give off a Lovecraftian vibe. A shark movie like Jaws would not be considered Lovecraftian, since the shark is simply large and ferocious.
  2. Gateways to Hell-like alternate dimensions. Phantasm, with its bizarre dimension of evil hooded minions, provides a great example.
  3. An evil book with unholy powers. That age-old grimoire, the Necronomicon, plays a pivotal role in the Cthulhu Mythos, since it’s the Bible of Lovecraft’s universe. If a horror movie has an evil book in it, chances are, the filmmakers were trying to capture that Lovecraftian Necronomicon vibe.
  4. Lost races and human regression. Folks who have devolved into subhuman or fishlike creatures are essential to Lovecraftian fiction. The stories The Rats in the Walls and The Shadow over Innsmouth are prime examples.
  5. Obscure cults and rituals. A movie about a Satanic cult, like The Devil’s Rain, would not be considered Lovecraftian because it concerns Christianity. The sinister, inhuman cult in The Void is extremely Lovecraftian.
  6. Egyptian horror. Lovecraft’s character Nyarlathotep is an essential element of the Mythos. The androgynous god Ra in the movie Stargate is a fine example of a Nyarlathotep-like character. If the horror element is just the presence of mummies, that’s not enough to regard the movie as Lovecraftian. Mummies are really just undead folks, and Lovecraft covered that topic extensively in two stories (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and Herbert West–Reanimator) that had nothing to do with mummies.

Below, I list the top 13 Lovecraftian movies that are not based on the Cthulhu Mythos. But before I do, here are some honorable mentions.

Ghosts of Mars (2001) tells of malevolent Martian spirits who enter and possess human visitors to the red planet. The combination of science-fiction and undead alien souls has a strong Lovecraftian feel to it. Quatermass and the Pit (also known as Five Million Years to Earth, 1967) also concerns malevolent Martian spirits. In this movie, alien spirits have come to Earth and they begin to possess humans. The Martians look like a horrific cross between gargoyles and locusts.

The Phantasm franchise, which began in 1979, features a strong mix of horror and science-fiction elements, including gateways to the dimension of evil robed creatures, as noted above. Stargate (1994) features an androgynous, evil pharaoh, reminiscent of Nyarlathotep, also noted above.

The Maze (1953) is a black-and-white 3D movie about a family curse, and the plot has a few elements in common with The Shadow over Innsmouth. Black Sunday (1960) is reminiscent of Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Both feature a deceased practitioner of the dark arts who strives to take the place of a look-alike modern descendant.

I now offer you the top 13, revealed in reverse order. I also provide the year in which each was released.

13. Monster on the Campus (1958): Most people probably would not associate this movie with Lovecraft. Even so, I think Cthulhu Mythos enthusiasts would enjoy it. A scientist accidentally discovers a way to turn life-forms into devolved/prehistoric versions of themselves. The pseudo-science of this B-movie epic is delightfully bizarre.

12. The Cat Creature (1973 TV movie): I’ve always loved this creepy, moody film. The title monster is an Egyptian shape-shifter, and in one of its forms, it reminds me of Nyarlathotep when he takes on the human form of a pharaoh. Also, the tone of the movie, like that of some of Lovecraft’s stories, is reminiscent of a detective mystery. Lovecraft wrote during the era of pulp magazines and many of his stories featured the breathless tone found in mystery tales at that time.

11. The Mole People (1956): Lovecraft wrote frequently about lost races, secret societies, and beings that dwell in darkness. With that in mind, The Mole People is entertainment pay-dirt for anyone who enjoys his work. It’s a thrilling adventure set deep underground, where a race of albino Sumerians dwell in an ancient stone city. The Sumerians have enslaved a grotesque mutant race of mole-like humanoids, who make great pseudo-Lovecraftian creatures.   

10. Gargoyles (TV movie, 1972): Like The Mole People, Gargoyles is an exciting tale about a lost race. I rank this one a notch higher than The Mole People because it works to establish the fact that gargoyles are a part of human history. We learn that long-ago memories of the gargoyles are what led to humanity’s belief in demons. That assertion actually makes the movie seem more real – because it makes sense.

9. Hellraiser franchise (first movie 1987): Hellraiser, as most horror movie fans know, is about the Cenobites, a cult of sadistic pleasure-seekers who visit Earth from their Hell-dimension. The Cenobites are always working to bring recruits into their realm of horrors. The cult has a highly sexual, pain-oriented manifesto, which often detracts from the more Lovecraftian themes.

8. Dagora, the Space Monster (1964): Dagora is a gigantic, jellyfish-like space creature that feasts on carbon in its many forms. This Japanese movie monster is quite interesting, but it never really captured America’s imagination as Godzilla did. Dagora looks very much like a jellyfish and so, has no eyes. Audiences probably would have connected more with the creature if it had been given expressive eyes. Still, the movie is well-developed and entertaining.

7. The Green Slime (1968): The Green Slime comes alive with a swarm of tentacled, one-eyed, human-sized monsters, all invading a busy space station. The single red eye of each monster gives them a savage, evil look … far more malevolent than eyeless Dagora. The movie is unintentionally campy, but I rank it fairly high because it doesn’t skimp on the monsters. It trots out a veritable space-army of rubbery mini-Cthulhus, and that makes me smile.

6. The Beyond (1981): This brooding Italian horror is reminiscent of Dreams in the Witch House. A woman inherits a hotel which may also hold a gateway to a Hell-like dimension … just as the witch house offers access to an evil realm. The film is surreal, nightmarish and mesmerizing, and the presence of a grimoire entitled Eibon amps up the Lovecraftian mood. The Cthulhu Mythos includes a grimoire called the Book of Eibon, but the name is probably all the two fictitious books have in common.

5. Godzilla franchise (first movie 1954): Like Cthulhu, Japanese movie monster Godzilla is a gigantic, dragon-like horror that rises from the sea to destroy humanity. Also, both Godzilla and Cthulhu can hibernate for great lengths of time. Many of the Godzilla movies are much campier than the original, and so, are less Lovecraftian. Godzilla’s universe also features many other oversized monstrosities, just as Lovecraft’s universe features more creatures than just Cthulhu. A rival studio released a different movie series about Gamera, a gigantic turtle – but let’s face it, a turtle isn’t all that scary. Most Gamera movies were aimed at younger turtle-loving viewers.

4. Alien franchise (first movie 1979): The monster in this movie franchise isn’t as big as Godzilla, but it is far more terrifying. Its appearance is completely unearthly, and more insectile than humanoid. It is also a ravenous eating machine, a predator with no concern whatsoever for other living beings. It does not try to connect with its victims in any way. In that regard, the alien is just like Cthulhu, who has no concern whatsoever for humans.

3. Event Horizon (1997): Event Horizon presents the concept of a haunted house in outer space, a spaceship being the house. The movie fulfills that vision with horrendous, Lovecraftian gusto. What we have here is a spaceship that has visited a Hell-dimension … and brought back some Hell with it. After all, can anyone dip into a universe of evil and emerge unscathed? It’s a gloriously dark, multi-layered movie that has become a cult classic.

2. The Void (2016): Speaking of cult movies…. The Void is, in fact, a cult movie about a cult. A small town is besieged by the robed followers of an unearthly religion, and before long, a group of people find themselves trapped in a hospital. The followers have black triangles for faces and are genuinely disturbing. Tentacled monsters and horrific rituals are plentiful in this nightmarish adventure throughout the film. The movie is practically condensed cream-of-Lovecraft soup, with all the things you love about the Cthulhu Mythos boiled down into a thick, savory bisque.

1. In the Mouth of Madness (1994): I’ve watched this one several times, and it never disappoints. I always notice something new with each viewing. What we have here is a robust horror film with thinly veiled references to the works of Lovecraft and Stephen King. This movie is the ultimate Lovecraftian meta-fiction. But really, isn’t a meta-fiction, in itself, a surreal concept worthy of Lovecraft himself – an unearthly story within a story? In the Mouth of Madness captures the very essence of insanity: not being able to tell fact from fantasy. It also features passageways to other dimensions, ghoulish monsters, and of course, plenty of tentacles.

So there you have it: my top 13 Lovecraftian movies not based on Lovecraft. If you love the works of H.P. Lovecraft as much as I do, perhaps you might enjoy reading my tales of Lovecraftian horror, co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.:

HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos. Paperback available on Amazon:

THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT & More Lovecraftian Nightmares. Paperback available on Amazon:


These books are companion volumes, and many of the tales are continuations of Lovecraft’s best stories. In addition to co-authoring the books, I also created the cover art for both. I feel the effort was well worth it.

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The 10 Greatest Stories Of H.P. LOVECRAFT


by Mark McLaughlin

I’ve always loved the works of H.P. Lovecraft – even when I was a little boy. My parents used to drop me off at the library when they went shopping, and I’d spend the afternoon reading horror stories. My folks were pretty laissez faire about where they left me, back in those days! I wouldn’t suggest that anyone should ever use their local library as a free babysitting service.

That library’s fiction section held half a shelf of Arkham House story collections and anthologies, and so I read loads of stories by H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, Robert Bloch, Carl Jacobi, Donald Wandrei, and many others. Reading those stories made me realize that when I grew up, I should also write horror stories … so I did, and still do.

Of all the authors I read back then, I enjoyed the works of Lovecraft the most. They were so awe-inspiring, so utterly entrancing! Over the years, I’ve read each of his stories dozens of times. Fore the record, my favorite Lovecraft story is “The Dunwich Horror.” Back when I was a kid, I thought it was the best story ever written. As an adult, I now realize it’s a bit heavy on the exposition, but hey, I still get a kick out of it.

I’ve written many Lovecraftian stories over the years, and often I’m asked which HPL works are my favorites. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of what I consider to be his ten greatest tales. What do I mean by ‘greatest’? Basically, the list includes stories that display his incredible imagination to full advantage. My list does not include any of Lovecraft’s collaborative works. There are just too many to consider.

You will notice that some of Lovecraft’s classic stories are not on my list. Here are some notes on my process. “Dagon” is a fine story, but arguably, it’s a simpler version of the longer and more complex “The Call of Cthulhu.” By that same token, “The Festival” is, in many ways, a shorter version of “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” in that both feature protagonists who have adventures and learn their true origins.

Short stories like “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” “In the Vault,” “The Unnamable,” “The Hound,” “The Outsider,” “The Music of Erich Zann,” “From Beyond,” “The Cats of Ulthar,” “Cool Air,” “The Picture in the House,” and “Pickman’s Model” are outstanding, but they rely on twist/surprise endings and offer less depth than the top ten I’ve selected. Other short stories, like “The White Ship” and “The Terrible Old Man,” read more like vignettes or prose-poems than actual full-bodied stories.

Longer stories like “The Lurking Fear,” “The Rats in the Walls,” “The Horror at Red Hook,” “The Thing on the Doorstep,” “He” and “The Shunned House” are all well-developed, with more impact than the twist/surprise-ending stories I’d mentioned, but they are only marginally connected to Lovecraft’s more robust Cthulhu Mythos stories, which would be considered his greatest and most groundbreaking works.

“The Shadow out of Time” would be No. 12 on this list. It is a majestic, wonderful story with a high degree of development, but it is told at a more leisurely pace than one usually expects from Lovecraft, and the twist at the end is not as impactful as many of his other endings.

“The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” would be No. 11.  At 51,112 words, it’s Lovecraft’s only novel. It’s a grand tale of wizardry, reanimation of the dead, and ancient family secrets. It doesn’t have much Cthulhu Mythos content in it, and while a Lovecraft story does not require Mythos content to be entertaining, I still find his Mythos tales to be more enthralling and original. Plus, Lovecraft’s story “Herbert West–Reanimator” also concerns reanimation, and Herbert West is a more compelling character.

I now present the top ten, revealed in reverse order. I also provide the year in which each was written.

10. “The Whisperer in Darkness,” 1930: This 26,000-word novella is a blend of horror and science-fiction. It tells of a secret Earth colony of the Mi-go, a race of fungoid creatures from Pluto, also known as Yuggoth. This story is highly imaginative and entertaining, and really, my only major gripe is that the aliens try to drug the protagonist’s coffee at one point. Really? Horrific fungoid creatures from outer space try to slip a guy a mickey? One has to remember, the story was written back in the era of pulp magazines, and in those stories, it wasn’t uncommon for a bad guy to engage in sneaky mickey-slipping. 

9. “Herbert West–Reanimator,” 1921-22: This story ran in six issues of a magazine. The narrative suffers from being divided into six segments, since there is some rehashing of plot elements from one segment to the next. In this tale, a medical genius has developed a serum to raise the dead. This story really has nothing to do with the Cthulhu Mythos, but I like how Lovecraft has crafted a zombie tale as a work of dark science-fiction … much like the original Frankenstein novel, actually. Lovecraft did much to combine horror and science-fiction in delightfully weird, inventive ways.

8. “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” 1926-27: This magical novella-length adventure tells of Randolph Carter, an adventurer who explores a fantasy dimension, the Dreamlands, to find a mysterious, beautiful city. This story deserves more attention, since it is wonderfully imaginative and exotic – so if you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check it out. The various domains of Oz pale in comparison to Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. The adventure provides numerous insights into the Cthulhu Mythos, including additional information on that brooding Lovecraftian deity, Nyarlathotep.

7. “The Dreams in the Witch House,” 1932: A cursory reading of this story might lead one to think it is about a boarding house haunted by a witch. But actually, the plot transcends the typical haunted house drama by revealing that the witch, Keziah Mason, travels through time and space with ease. Her wicked familiar, Brown Jenkin, is a hybrid creature with the body of a huge rat and a ghastly human face. This story is a compelling combination of Gothic menace and sci-fi/horror, and an avatar of Nyarlathotep makes an appearance.

6. “The Haunter of the Dark,” 1935: This is the tale of a young scholar who takes an interest in a sinister church, once part of an evil cult. The cult drew its power from an alien artifact known as the Shining Trapezohedron. Like “The Dreams in the Witch House,” this tale combines a haunted building story with far-flung science-fiction/horror concepts. Also like “Witch House,” this story provides insights into the horrendous nature of Nyarlathotep. This story is a sequel to Robert Bloch’s 1935 story, “The Shambler from the Stars.” In 1950, Bloch wrote “The Shadow from the Steeple,” a sequel to “The Haunter of the Dark.”

5. “At the Mountains of Madness,” 1931: The novella “At the Mountains of Madness” concerns a bold Miskatonic University expedition to Antarctica. The explorers discover what is left of an ancient city, once populated by monstrous beings known as the Elder Things and their rubbery, shapeless servants, the Shoggoths. This story recounts how many of the creatures and races found in Lovecraft’s work first came to Earth, and so, is a valuable resource in understanding the overall history of these beings and their interactions on our planet. The Elder Things are fascinating, highly intelligent aliens, and it’s a pity that Lovecraft never expanded this tale into a longer novel.     

4. “The Dunwich Horror,” 1928: In “The Dunwich Horror,” we meet Wilbur Whateley, a seemingly deformed young man who travels to Miskatonic University’s library on a questionable mission. He wants to read the Necronomicon, a book of ancient occult secrets. We soon learn that he is actually part-human, part-transdimensional deity, and that he is trying to carry out a monstrous agenda. We learn a lot about the Necronomicon and the deity Yog-Sothoth in this tale, and the descriptions of the outlandish Lovecraftian creatures (Wilbur and a certain relative) are priceless.

3. “The Colour Out of Space,” 1927: This is one of the finest tales ever written about the horrors of living in rural isolation. Lovecraft also addressed this theme in “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Picture in the House.” A meteorite hits the farm of Nahum Gardner, and a living alien color transfers from the meteorite into the soil, gradually poisoning the plants, animals and humans living on the property. The story is an excellent tale of a monstrous first encounter between humans and an alien presence, and it truly confirms that Lovecraft was an early master at combining science-fiction with horror.  

2. “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” 1931: This is certainly one of the best small-town-with-a-secret stories ever written. As we learn more and more about the community of Innsmouth, we soon come to realize that its residents are in communication with forces of evil. But are they really evil? Like beauty, evil is clearly in the eye of the beholder. We also learn about the Cthulhu Mythos in this story – and about human nature, too. This is an especially well-developed story and while the ending features a twist, it’s rather profound, and also one that most readers will not see coming.

1. “The Call of Cthulhu,” 1926: I find it amusing that “The Call of Cthulhu,” one of the greatest, most original horror stories ever written, was first published in Weird Tales magazine – but it wasn’t the cover story for that issue. The cover was devoted to a story entitled “The Ghost Table.” Poor Cthulhu had to ride in the back seat and let some haunted furniture take the wheel. “The Call of Cthulhu” certainly deserved the cover, since it is a wildly imaginative masterwork. It unveils the tale of an unspeakable ancient entity, asleep in a temple at the bottom of the sea. Obviously, it is the definitive Cthulhu Mythos tale – a mystical, exciting adventure told in Lovecraft’s inimitable style.

I love Lovecraft’s work so much, I’ve made it my long-term goal to write a sequel (or in one case, prequel) to every major story he ever wrote. I’m not finished yet, but here is the progress I’ve made so far:

Lovecraft story: “The Shadow over Innsmouth”
My sequel: “The Tantalizing Taste You Will Never Forget” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: Horrors & Abominations: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Call of Cthulhu”
My sequel: “The Testament of Cthulhu” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: Horrors & Abominations: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “From Beyond”
My sequel: “The Curse of the Tillinghasts” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: Horrors & Abominations: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Rats in the Walls”
My sequel: “The Nightmare in Delapore Tower” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: Horrors & Abominations: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Creature in the Waxworks”
My sequel: “The Whisperer in Darkness” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: Horrors & Abominations: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Haunter of the Dark”
My prequel: “The Abominations of Nephren-Ka” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: Horrors & Abominations: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The House of the Ocelot”
My sequel: “The Cats of Ulthar” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: The House of the Ocelot & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Terrible Old Man”
My sequel: “Another Terrible Old Man” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: The House of the Ocelot & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “At the Mountains of Madness”
My sequel: “Shoggoth Apocalypse” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: The House of the Ocelot & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Dunwich Horror”
My sequel: “The Surprising Sweetness of Their Blood” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: The House of the Ocelot & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “Herbert West–Reanimator”
My sequel: “The Glorious Return of Herbert West” (co-written by Michael Sheehan, Jr.)
Where the sequel can be found: The House of the Ocelot & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Lovecraft story: “The Dreams in the Witch House”
My sequels: “The Last Witch-House” and “Uncle Caesar”
Where the sequels can be found: The House of the Ocelot & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

Where to find the books: 

HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. Paperback on Amazon:

THE HOUSE OF THE OCELOT & More Lovecraftian Nightmares by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. Paperback on Amazon:


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


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


HORRORS & ABOMINATIONS: 24 Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos by Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr.

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


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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