Monday, October 11, 2010

Short Story Scrutiny: "The Colour Out of Space" (1927) by H. P. Lovecraft

Okay, I don't have a picture for this one, which I'm infinitely sorry for. Honestly though I can't see this review having a picture anyway. "The Colour Out of Space" by Howard Philips Lovecraft is the single best examples I have ever seen of a purely atmospheric piece of horror. Sure, there are other good examples by other authors, but this one is the best because of how it effectively uses the material to be terrifying.

Now, personally, I am not a huge H. P. Lovecraft fan. I like some of his stuff some of the time, but most of his stuff is garbage and unfit for brain consumption. I mean, the man was about as racist as a man could be and it comes off in his writings as random asides about the inferiority of other races. Kind of sick in a way.

But in this story, the idea of racism doesn't raise its ugly head. Instead this story focuses on an alien, which also happens to be the title of the story. It is a colour from space that is the real horror. It steals energy from the land and the people on it eventually driving them all insane. They all die fairly horribly not long after that as the area itself becomes a haven for otherworldly wildlife. The most horrific part for me is how everything earth-like and natural for us turns gray and disintegrates into nothing at all. It provides a sharp contrast to films and other stories that have the horror being something substantial that one can fight. The horror of this story isn't in the substance, but rather the lack of substance, the lack of an enemy, the lack of motive. The fear here is really very little,but it is used so effectively that the horror becomes much more tangible than any mindless slasher film. There is a feeling of absolute dread that spreads its way across the story and in some ways it feels much realer than most other stories out there. In some ways it almost feels as if this story could happen in our world... or maybe already has.

What I'm saying is that this story is outstanding and its short length leads it to being accessible to just about anybody. Check it out and see the horror of "The Colour Out of Space" for yourself.

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