HBO’s Lovecraft Country certainly lived up to its name by marrying the macabre and horrific imaginings of H.P. Lovecraft to the real-life horrors of 1950s America. However, by the end of the Lovecraft Country’s premiere, some actual creatures from the occult do in fact show up. Warning: SPOILERS Follow – The H.P. Lovecraft monsters that show up in Lovecraft Country‘s climactic act are none other than the “Shoggoth” monsters were mentioned in the H.P. Lovecraft works Fungi From Yuggoth and At The Mountains of Madness. However, the Shoggoth was given a major makeover for Lovecraft Country – with some famous movie references worked into the design!
NYP talked with Grant Walker, the head of CG and a VFX supervisor at Framestore, the visual effects studio that designed Lovecraft Country’s version of the Shoggoth. As Walker tells it, elements of famous monsters from Star Wars, Stephen King, and even Alien were all baked into the new Shoggoth design:
“It’s got an element of the rancor beast from ‘Return of the Jedi’ in it,” Walker said. “It’s got elements of Stephen King’s ‘IT’ with the teeth for Pennywise the clown. The translucent skin comes from the ‘Alien’ movies. I have read quite a lot of Lovecraft stories, and his description is kind of slightly surreal. It’s hard to completely pin it down. Lots of people have drawn [the Shoggoths] based on Lovecraft’s description and they all look wildly different. There’s a lot of artistic freedom there.”
The last bit of Walker’s quote will no doubt invite challenges from some die-hard H.P. Lovecraft fans. The author gave his most extensive description of the Sloggoth in At the Mountains of Madness, which you can read below:
“It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train–a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.”
So there it is: Lovecraft’s version of the Sloggoth may have been “indescribable,” but like so many Lovecraftian creatures, it also perverted traditional notions of form. Obviously, Lovecraft Country couldn’t really use a shapeless lump of changing eyes as the basis for the monster the characters have to battle – which is always the challenge of adapting Lovecraft for pop-culture entertainment. The dog whistle sound that ultimately called off the Sloggoth suggests the dog-like design of the monster may also be functional, instead of just freaky.
Lovecraft Country airs Sundays on HBO.
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