What makes Cthulhu(or other Lovecraft stories/ creatures) supposed to be scary?
Why is he called the king of horror?
Why would seeing a giant with an octopus head make the average person go completely insane, and some people just drop dead from the mere sight of him?
I've read a great amount of Lovecraft and like his stories but I'm not scared by them. I'm just wondering what makes them scary to some.
He just sets a unique tone that sings to some people.
The point of it is not the monster itself, the whole point is existential confusion/horror and the shattering of the average person's foundational belief system.
The giant monster is not required. If people see something they know to be completely impossible, and it persists for more than a few seconds, and other people see it as well, it reduces them to a state of shock and damages the way they have preconceived the world on a daily basis for their entire lives. Always having faith and trust in certain truths that are now broken. Things they never questioned at all. Or even thought about. But now suddenly maybe up is actually down, or everything they know is a lie. Maybe it was all a sham and they never had a clue what was really happening in this thing we call life.
Thing is, they were written back when men really felt on top of the universe. God's special creature, made in his image, inheritors of the earth, etc., etc. And really this 'existential horror' was all about entertaining the idea that that wasn't true. At the time.
Well, it still isn't true, and we still see ourselves as one and all 'special snowflakes' in one way or another. Just the variety of flavors have broadened.
It's just a run of the mill planet in a run of the mill galaxy in a run of the mill universe way far down in the pecking order of this local mathematical multiverse, let alone all of existence.
Existences far greater than anything we in this universe can ever know, by its very design, still don't know everything.
Even the 'giant monster' in the story barely even rates as different from an average human in the grand scheme of things.
Lovecraft isn't considered horror because the monsters are strange and the situations are unusual. The stories don't "shatter foundational belief systems." Foundational isn't even a word.
For example, in that story with the guy who got stuck in a crypt while he was stacking coffins.. There's literally nothing that challenges any form of belief structure. He just uses fear of the dark and confined and unknown to cultivate a sense of panic.
It's supernatural / psychological horror. The idea is that he's relating how fucking terrified these normal people would be in ridiculous situations. Like in the one with the guy in the lifeboat who fell into that weird dimension and went totally insane about it. Maybe reading about some guy discovering a plane of black squishy substance, a giant strange monolith, and a gigantic creature which defies description doesn't terrify YOU -- but that protagonist would've been shitting bricks.
It's meant to be a mindfuck -- which is created using your basic fears. The unknown, the incomprehensible, the dark, confined spaces, giant weird shit, or as a specific theme, the fear of going insane.
M8, Lovecraft wrote alot of horror. You can't just point to one mere example and pretend that disproves that shattering of foundational belief systems and whatnot isn't a major and defining theme of Lovecraft's work as a whole, even if foundational isn't even a word.
Also no one is ever the king of anything, there's just a wealth of fan boys willing to spout shit about their favorite author. Some fucks would insist that Stephen King is the king of horror and they're wrong in my opinion, but that's the highly opinionated world of fiction.
Lovecraft has a hard time with modern readers, I think.
For one thing, he was writing in a time when different cultural ideas were running around, so some of the things he was talking about don't seem scary now, or some of his characters behave in ways that make us say "what? who would do that?"
he also write in a style that's now outdated, i think. today's authors are constantly being told "show, don't tell". Lovecraft tells. that's almost ALL he does. he doesn't describe the monster so that it scares you, he just uses the adjective "terrifying" and lets you decide what a monster would have to look like to be terrifying. same with his characters - he doesn't say "my hands shook and i began to sweat" so that you know he's scared. he just says "I was terrified beyond imagining".
and then finally there's the problem that instead of seeing these ideas for the first time we grew up in a culture where everybody knows the name Cthulhu and has a vague idea who he is and what he looks like. Lovecraft was a giant influence on the horror genre and his mythos is a giant influence on general scifi / fantasy even when we use it in a way that's not meant to be scary (see also: the chaos that crawls up to you with a smile!)
i think the guy deserves mad props but personally i can't stand reading his stories. and that's fine. and it's fine if you think they're awesome.
personally i prefer RWC's King in Yellow, or even a few modern writers. I prefer the way they construct sentences, the way they build plots, etc.
the whole horrors beyond your imagination approach works for some, not so much for others
especially edgy teenagers who got into because le cthulu epic meme, also his writting style and english is beyond entry level
>supposed to be scary?
There are a lot of horror tropes or elements that go into Lovecrafts writing. Fears to be specific
>cuz dats wut horror is about :D
That we are insignificant in an uncaring universe. That there could creatures/monsters/beings that exist beyond our understanding or comprehension. Fear of the unknown, dark, claustrophobia, aliens, death, insanity, etc.
Lovecraft's writing usually instills a sense of helpless or dread to me. The protagonist doesn't know what's going, doesn't know how to defeat the giant creature, or cannot stop horrible events from unfolding. The cosmic horrors usually always win. That, in a sense, is disheartening or depressing.
>Why is he called the king of horror?
I've rarely heard him referred to this. I'd say that he definitely is influential and was prolific with his universe. I'd consider him one of the masters. If you're into horror, NOT reading him or owning his works is just... Weird.
its not that much of a scare though, but gets you thinking. Im a fan of his work for the world he created, and how all of this twisted ideas were on his mind. He's not the king of horror, but maybe a portion of it, because it sticks the idea that we are insignificant to things that are beyond our reach, in terms of time and space
The idea is that most conventional horror stories are based around monsters who can be overcome. Sure, there's a monster, but you can always run away, evade it, and maybe even kill it. Some of the Lovecraftian horrors are gods. Gods who don't care about you. Gods who could crush you in an instant just because they felt like it.
In most horror stories, there's hope involved. The protagonist always has the hope to overcome the ghost or ghoul he's faced against., but as I just said, Lovecraftian horrors are gods. There is no hope. There's no way to get around them. There is literally nothing you could do to stop them or run away. They're a metaphor for the universe. If something comes our way, what are we going to do about it? As a species, that is; I'm not talking about our petty political disputes. The realization that every human being is going to be vaporized by an asteroid headed towards Earth is the horror depicted by Lovecraft.
Lovecraft reminds us that we don't matter (at least not yet), and there are hundreds of uncaring forces that are larger than us, and they have the power to decimate us.
These folks have the right idea. A cornerstone of Lovecraft's fiction is the fact that in the face of an unimaginably vast universe, mankind doesn't even register as a blip on the radar. We are infinitesimally small, and it's been only sheer luck that we haven't been obliterated by some errant movement of a hyper-dimensional being. It's facing the fact that we don't matter one fucking bit in the greater scheme of things, that there are beings and forces out there doing who-knows-what that are orders of magnitude more complex than we could ever hope to achieve.
Couple this with a very honest portrayal of causes of fear. as many of his stories were based on his own dreams and nightmares, and of his friends' as well.
Cultural and genetic degeneracy is another heavy influence on a portion of his work, stemming from turn of the century attitudes about race relations and things of that nature.
But no one here could really explain it better than the man himself, so read this treatise on the subject by HPL himself and hopefully it will help show the main gist behind his work.
Lovecraft wrote during the 20s and 30s. What was scary to them isn't going to be scary to us.
You also have to consider that his stories were written during a time of huge change. The acceptance of science and new age religions were growing over traditional religions, and big questions like "what if we're not alone" were getting thrown around a whole lot.
Lovecraft's stories answered the question with "We're not alone, I've seen what's out there, and it drove me fucking bibbledy."
Something else you'll notice as you read Lovecraft is that he demonized incest a lot. People will say he was hating on interracial relationships, but it was incest. There was a story of a race of ape people from the heart of Africa which people point to as evidence of racism, but those same ape people appear in a later story that was geared heavily around an incestuous cult-type family. I haven't read Shadow over Innsmouth yet (I've been reading them on and off in chronological order for some years) but I'd wager money that it was more anti-incest, not anti-darkies like people will say.
You also have to understand that HP Lovecraft's monster depictions were literally "because I say so". He even tackled this in a story which, if I remember right, included the first implied appearance of a Shoggoth. Two people were arguing in a (grave?)yard in front of a haunted house. One was an author (Lovecraft self-insert) being criticized by the other for always describing creatures as beyond comprehension or beyond description. The thing that you have to consider when looking at artists' renderings of his creatures is that they are ALL wrong. The creatures' bodies are wrought with geometries and spatial inconsistencies and so on that should be impossible and trying to comprehend them overtaxes your brain to the point of it breaking, like a processor overheating and frying out.
The best way to understand why people go insane from witnessing Lovecraftian horrors is if you're horribly sick and have a hardcore fever or if you're out-of-your-mind high. Sometimes, in that state, you can hold something or look at something and no matter how long you examine it, it just seems wrong. It's too small, too long, it looks farther than it should be, it's too big, you just can't put your finger on it and the more you look at it, the more it wrenches your guts.
That feeling many times over is the effect a Lovecraftian being has on a person.
along with what everyone else is saying, Cthulhu himself is a lot more disturbing than his now popular image lets on.
Cthulhu is not a giant with an octopus head. In the original story, Cthulhu is a vague tentacled creature that is 'described' as a 'humanoid with a cuttlefish head and wings', this coming from a statue that was found.
When they finally meet Cthulhu they are greeted by something so alien that it could barely be described. It was big, tentacled, and most importantly, not made from any matter we are familiar with.
When smashed, it would reform, its body shifted in and out of our dimension. It was a being that was indescribable and simply greater than us.
Looking at Cthulhu and trying to make sense of it, is the equivalent of trying to think of a new color. It is something our brains simply cannot process because it defies all logic that our world operates on.
Cthulhu's popularity ruined what it was meant to be. Cthulhu is not a physical being but a god, and not even the greatest god. Just a priest to the even greater gods. Instead we have made an image of him that we are comfortable with. Cthulhu is our big squid headed monster. not an interdimensional being that our minds literally cannot makes sense of.
I've always seen Lovecraft's work as really quite ludicrous. I cannot find them unnerving or scary because everything just seems so silly to me.
But that's personal preference. It's really interesting to see you guys' opinions and interpretations.
I haven't quite finished his complete works, but it's a toss up between The Dunwich Horror and Under the Pyramids for my favourites.
I don't find his stories overly scary, moreso mysterious (the only two that creeped me out in any real capacity are the aformentioned). I find them more mysterious - as others here have articulated, they invoke a sense of insignificance in the world. I find it enticing; others may find it terrifying.
I understand your feeling of it being ludicrous, but i think that is just another facet of the time it was created.
The sad fact is, that lovecraftian fiction has been around so long, that it is now cliche.
It was some groundbreaking shit in its day.
Kinda like guitar hero. Remember when it came out and everyone just had to have it, and the everyone made a guitar hero clone, and now no one wants to play rhythm games at all, especially with a plastic instrument. Its like that.
That sentence meant, what he wrote isn't considered horror because of what your explanation states. It's considered horror for other reasons.
I wrote two explanations to support my argument, not just one. Nothing in any of Lovecraft's stories is any kind of assault on people's beliefs. Why don't you cite a story to prove your argument?
one thing I don't understand why some occultists conflate his fiction with... actual occult? I mean I understand the sentiment but it's not like there's any real basis for working with cthulu, it's kinda on the same level as worshipping warhammer chaos gods
nope, there's no way to visualize his stories and do them justice - I mean Colour Out of Space basically describes something that no one can imagine since it does not exist on earth
I find most of his stories as being rooted in mindbreak and madness . like stumbling on to something that is beyond your understanding but too real to be denied, imagine looking at a well in a dark moonless night and feeling the eyes of an unseen terror on you as if the darkness itself has life. Just when you convince yourself that you were imagining it you see it take shape of a nighmarish apparition and unable to reconcile the reality with the horror your mind breaks..
Anyone who does not believe that fiction is powerful needs to try and imagine a world with no legends no gods no myths no fairytales with no other worlds made up in the minds of humanity. It would be a very short lived and bleak world is how I would picture it basically ill just paste a qoute from The Books of magic: You wish to see the distant realms? Very well. But know this first: the places you will visit, the places that you will see, do not exist. For there are only two worlds — your world, which is the real world, and the other worlds, the fantasy. Worlds like this are worlds of human imagination: their reality, or lack of reality, is not important. What is important is that they are there. These worlds provide an alternative. Provide escape. Provide a dream, and power, provide refuge, and pain. They give your world meaning. They do not exist; and thus they are all that matters.