It’s not giving too much away to let enthusiasts of tentacular horror know that Frank Darabont’s film of The Mist, currently fogging up UK cinema screens, contains these questing things among its torments. The Mist is based on a 1980 novella by Stephen King and the film has a decent King pedigree for once, with the director having previously made The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile while the creature designs are partly the work of Berni Wrightson, one of King’s artist collaborators. Wrightson’s web gallery has a number of his sketches on display although if you haven’t seen the film you should be warned that they spoil some of the surprises.
My good friend Mark Pilkington—weirdness wrangler, editor of Strange Attractor and all-round ubiquitous presence—reviews the film in this month’s Sight and Sound where he points out some of the Lovecraftian resonances. Tentacles aside, there’s a lumbering monstrosity near the end which manages to be far more Lovecraftian than the Cloverfield creature and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the larger presences than the lesser beasties. The film’s lead character is a movie poster artist and the opening scene nods to an earlier film with an equally Lovecraftian atmosphere by having Drew Struzan’s art for John Carpenter’s The Thing on the wall in the background. The film’s siege situation is more the kind of story you’d get from an earlier writer, William Hope Hodgson, another purveyor of the malevolent tentacle.
Berni Wrightson and your not-so-humble narrator appeared together recently in Centipede Press’s A Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft (yes, I am going to keep going on about this book for the next few months…sue me). Wrightson is represented there by his comic strip adaptation of Cool Air but his Mist drawings would have made equally worthwhile additions. If nothing else, 2008 is turning out to be a good year for horror enthusiasts.