Architect of the weird fiction movement of the early 20th century, H.P. Lovecraft was a pretty crazy dude. Hating conventionality in deities almost as much as he hated black people, Lovecraft went about forging his own outlandish pantheon of alien gods of all shapes and sizes; each with their own approach to fucking with humanity. In reality, Lovecraft’s “gods” (known better as “Old Ones”) were really just advanced alien creatures that decided to come chill on Earth and mess with the little pink things that think they’re hot shit.
Let’s explore some of my favorites.
You’ve probably heard of this dude; he’s kind of a big deal.
Because he was in those ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sequels.
The most famous of all the Old Ones, even having the “Cthulhu Mythos” named after him, the guy’s actually one of the dullest of all of Lovecraft’s exotic jerk-faces. Cthulhu takes a much more passive approach to humanity than some of the other space creatures, pretty much being ambivalent to their existence unless they set foot on his lawn (the submerged continent of R’lyeh). Then he goes straight-up Texan on their asses. Really, all the dude wants to do is sleep at the bottom of the ocean, watching people’s dreams for his own amusement, occasionally psychically convincing them to worship him because he hasn’t got shit-else to do.
Well, aside from the occasional cameo in Steven Spielberg’s Freakazoid:
Where he was voiced by Richard Moll.
Everyone and their devil-worshipping grandmother has read Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu; his most famous publication. In case you haven’t, though, then you might be disappointed when you get to the end and find that the Great and Powerful God Cthulhu gets defeated the same way Ursula did at the end of The Little Mermaid; he gets impaled with the mast of a ship. What, it’s that easy? Didn’t the shark die the same way at the end of Jaws: The Revenge? Man, Cthulhu’s such a lightweight.
Though he does translate to stop-motion rather well:
Iä! Iä! Ghumbhy fhtagn!
Okay, let’s do some compare/contrast for a moment.
This is how Steven Spielberg imagines a fertility goddess:
And this is how H.P. Lovecraft imagines a fertility goddess:
Both horrifying in their own ways, but I think Lovecraft deserves bonus points for conceiving rape-tentacles over half a century before the Japanese. And they’re usually so ahead of the rape-curve, too.
Known alternatively as “The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”, she’s technically an “Outer God” (the deities and monsters most prevalent in Lovecraft’s series of stories dubbed the “Dream Cycle”). She never made any physical appearances in any of Lovecraft’s stories, instead just being referenced a whole lot.
Despite that, she developed quite a following of worshippers throughout Appalachia.
“Stop firing! It’s just a West Virginian!”
Nyarlathotep is basically Lovecraft’s interpretation of what the Anti-Christ would be like if he co-opted his manifestation between a swarthy Egyptian soothsayer and a gargantuan blob that hangs around in church steeples, luring narcoleptics into sleepwalking through busy streets for the sheer fun of it.
The handsomest of all Lovecraftian deities, even in blob-form.
Known as the Crawling Chaos, Nyarlathotep was one of Lovecraft’s favorite creations, appearing in more substantial roles than any of his other deities. As such, he has quite a bit of distinct characterization. As the star of the story “Nyarlathotep”, the pharaoh-clad stud begins amassing a cult following like a modern day Pied Piper of Hamlin.
No, I mean he actually uses a pipe to sway people to join his ranks. Stop laughing, this is supposed to be scary.
Nyarlathotep is the emissary for Azathoth, the “blind idiot god” who exists at the center of all reality, splitting the rent with Yog-Sothoth, who *is* reality. Nyar-Nyar, though, is kind of like that henchman character you see in cartoons and comic books who works diligently for the main villain while loathing them every step of the way; like Snively from “Sonic the Hedgehog” because I can’t think of a better cartoon to use as an example.
And like Snively, there is no room in Nyarlathotep’s court for furries.
Fed up with having to take orders from a blind idiot, he tends to take his frustrations out on humanity, one shmuck at a time. In “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”, he befriends the protagonist near the end, only to double-cross him and try to feed the dude’s sanity to his blind idiot master the way you would try to shove a spoonful of Coco Puffs into the gaping maw of a wall-eyed microcephalic. In another story, “Dreams in the Witch House”, he disguises himself as a terrifying negro in order to coax a college student into signing a blood pact with his master (and when that doesn’t work out, he sends a man-faced rat to tear the kid’s throat out). He took on his blob-form in “The Haunter of the Dark” for no other purpose that I can deduce other than to make a sleepy guy miserable.
He hates his job and he’s taking it out on YOU.
2: Elder Things
The Elder Things are like the Native Americans of the Cthulhu Mythos. They were the first aliens to inhabit the Earth; staking out their territory undersea, creating shoggoths as a slave race, building vast Cyclopean cities and using every part of the buffalo. Sadly, other Old Ones decided to journey to Earth and encroach upon their civilization. Cthulhu pretty much kicked them out of the water and those damn space-crabs, the Mi-Go, broke treaty after treaty, corralling them all onto reservations in Antarctica.
The Elder Things got a pretty raw deal, which is a shame, as they basically look like cucumbers wearing Batman costumes.
Winner of the Third Annual “Veggie Tales” Costume Contest.
All things considered, the Elder Things were pretty mellow. According to “At the Mountains of Madness”, they lived in family-units and even decorated their own houses and apartments (it says nothing about casinos, but can you imagine?). And getting kicked out of the ocean depths by Cthulhu probably turned out to be a boon, too. If they’d stayed, they’d have had to have shared the joint with Dagon and the Deep Ones; fish-people so horny they’ll mate with just about anything. Even New Englanders.
If you ever do visit their city in Antarctica, don’t touch their collection of giant albino cave-penguins. They’re pretty touchy about those things.
They keep a shoggoth around for just such emergencies.
1: The Great Race of Yith
You see, the Great Race of Yith aren’t like the other advanced alien lifeforms that populate Lovecraft’s universe of weirdos and jerks. These guys are actually pretty alright.
They’re also librarians.
The Yith exist as disembodied spirits that can traverse time and space by sheer willpower, possessing the bodies of corporeal lifeforms for their own survival. Their modus operandi is to live out the entire existence of a planet in the bodies of its inhabitants until that planet’s time runs out. Then they play the body-exchange game en masse as a race, swapping digs with another race on another planet and then chilling there until the time comes to switch meat trains again.
But what happens to the spirits of the people already inhabiting the bodies they jack, you ask? Well, they get shunted back to the Yith’s previous carcasses, left to die inside an alien form a moment before planetary destruction. Yeah, it sucks, but compare their treatment of other lifeforms to some of Lovecraft’s other cosmic douchebags. There’s Nyarlathotep, who parades you around for the amusement of a drooling mongoloid while secretly hating his life. Or the Mi-Go, who like to put your brain in a jar and wear your skin as a mask just to prank your penpal. Or Cthulhu, who sits at the bottom of the ocean, voyeuristically peeking at all your wet dreams.
I mean, sure, one day you’re walking to Dunkin’ Donuts and in the blink of an eye, suddenly you’re trapped inside a fungus monster’s body on a world of molten tungsten. But on the bright side, before you can use the sprig of broccoli you have for a mouth to mewl, “What the fu–” the sun explodes and you die. And not alone, either; everyone you know dies right there with you. Compared to Lovecraft’s other space-assholes, the Yith are pretty merciful.
They’re the kind of genocidal space-librarians you’d like to have a beer with.
On the other hand, when they decided to come to Earth, they had the option of either inhabiting the bodies of humanity, or the bodies of a bunch of upside-down ice cream cones with tentacles at the top decorated in eyeballs, lobster claws and, what is that? A honeycomb? It’s kind of insulting. They then spend the next million years possessing the bodies of humans across Earth’s history, exploring each era in that person’s body while forcing the individual now trapped in a crazy Yith cone to write books for them. But just because they’re a pretty cool bunch of dudes, they give you your body back once they’re through with it. Would Tsathoggua do that? Not likely.