Event Recap: H.P. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL & CTHULHUCON

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Cultists! Rejoice! The 2018 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival rose from the fathomless deep to drive the audiences of Portland, OR to madness this month.

Fans of the weird come in droves, circling the artifacts of the nether regions in the CthulhuCon component of the fest, a collection of vendors that have some truly impressive offerings for the Old Ones and young ones alike. Andrew Leman’s H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society provide some of the most amazing relics and content in the genre space. One could easily lose their paycheck spending anytime at the booth.

A wonderfully curated collection of weird fiction authors bring a literary tone to the programming of this festival that does much more than pay lip service to Lovecraft’s undying desire to preserve the weird tale without consideration of remuneration. Authors such as Wilum H. Pugmire and Ashley Dioses stuck out among the crowd as great examples of the modern weird authors. Readings, panels and fiction discussions were well attended and thoughtfully composed.

All female, Japanese metal act Necronomidol played to eager audiences and rattled the walls of the Hollywood with their entirely unique performance, rarely seen on American soil. A true treat.

Richard Stanley, who is currently adapting Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, was in attendance. Stanley is a staunch supporter of the weird and is also another international visitor to the festival, bringing his unique wit and wisdom to several moments in the festival. On a personal note, his reading of Clark Ashton Smith’s The Hashish Eater was a true delight. Richard was kind enough to sit with us for an interview, which will be coming soon to NC readers.

With the overwhelming amount of options available to festival goers, you might ask, “Where would one find time to enjoy cinema?” This is a valid question. I was able to take in two marvelous films, but there were at least 10 I wanted to see and couldn’t.

HOUSEWIFE starred David Sakurai (Iron Fist, The Crimes of Grindelwald) as Bruce, an uber charismatic cult leader who manipulated the dreams and fantasies of Holly, played by Clementine Poidatz (Shut In) to the verge of a madness that would rip her family, her sanity and potentially the world into shreds. Brilliantly written and ethereal, HOUSEWIFE will ruin your mind.

The U.S. Premiere of 15 minute short film from Portugal THE STRANGE HOUSE IN THE MIST, was exceptionally Lovecraftian and struck me as one of the best examples of the genre I’ve seen in short form. Director Guilherme Daniel plays with tone, pacing and tension in the truest sense of abject weird horror.

Producers/owners of the festival, Gwen and Brian Callahan, are a national treasure. They toil at bringing this festival to life in Portland as well as keeping the weird alive in Providence, R.I. each year. They also produce the Portland Horror Film Festival, which stands alone in the Pacific NW as the only true horror festival of note. These folks know what they are doing. It shows. 

For the fan of Lovecraft, weird fiction literature and the ever spawning mythos of the denizens of the deep, this festival is not to be missed in 2019.