Friday, September 16, 2011

Keeping L.A. Weird: The 2nd Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Descends on San Pedro Harbor, September 16th and 17th

Art by David Milano
What a difference a year makes...

At roughly this same time last year, I was nervously and hastily prepping for my first gig as roving reporter for, tasked with gathering sound bytes at the 1st Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival - Los Angeles.  It was September, 2010, and I had just had my very first Lovecraftian short story ("Transmission") accepted for anthology publication in the anticipated Dead But Dreaming 2 for Misktonic River Press.

Flash forward about 370 days, and I'm nervously and hastily prepping for my first Author's Panel at the 2nd Annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, after serving as a judge of the festival screenplay competition.  Dead But Dreaming 2 has been released to widespread renown, and I now have five stories coming out in four other anthologies and publications, as well as a deal in place to release my own collection of short fiction in 2013.  And 2011 ain't even over yet.  There's still much dark business to be done.

What a difference a year makes... But then again, nothing has really changed as far as my enthusiasm and wonder at this amazing scene of devoted Weirdlings.  I just know my neighbors a little better, and they me.

From eager outsider a year ago to eager sorta' insider today, I journey down to edge of the continent later today to take in the opening day of the festival, held at the gorgeous Warner Grand Theater, celebrating its proud 80th birthday as a vibrant, art deco landmark the same year that Lovecraft's masterful "The Whisperer in Darkness" also turns fourscore, which will be properly commemorated this year by the showcasing of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's monumental adaptation of "Whisperer" on the vast, silvery screen, which is the anchor film of the entire fest, for soon to be obvious reasons.  It's the HPLHS's most ambitious film to date, and promises to blow minds by showing what indie film can do when properly motivated for forces not of this side of the cosmos.
Under the wise and steady guidance of filmmaker and adroit mixologist Aaron Vanek, the festival is already growing, in only its second year.  Based on ticket pre-sales, Vanek expects attendance to more than double, and this year, the festival is getting pre-press in such prestigious media outlets like this damn fine article published in the Los Angeles Times.

The scope of the festival has greatly expanded as well, as this year, an Author's Panel (seating me amongst my far more learned, experienced, and talented peers such as Cody Goodfellow, Michael Tice, Jenna Pitman, and Denise Dumars) has been added at Williams' Book Store across the street from the theater, as well as an expanded slate of films, including several short subjects, in addition to the usual slate of Lovecraft-inspired features new, recent, and from antiquity.  The more classic offerings (shown Friday night) include indie genre film legend Roger Corman's masterful "The Haunted Palace" (1963), a delicious amalgam of Poe and HPL (based on "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward") starring horror icon Vincent Price, which was the first piece of true Lovecraftian cinema ever filmed (Corman will make a video appearance to accept his “Howie” award, an HPLFF tradition that honors filmmakers contributions to film based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft).
Howie Award winner and my wizened yet spry boyfriend Roger Corman
More impressive still, Vanek busted out some salty, eldritch Magick to wrangle a brand new 35 mm print of the 1933 time travel film "Berkeley Square."  One of Lovecraft's favorite movies that he watched four times, "Berkeley Square" provided the creative impetus for HPL to pen one of his finest stories, "The Shadow Out of Time."

Saturday's slate is more contemporary, with "Cast a Deadly Spell," Spain's "La Sombra Prohibida" ("The Forbidden Shadow"), an exciting raft of short films (all entered into a contest judged by Hollywood heavyweight and devoted Lovecraftian Guillermo del Toro), and finally "The Whisperer in Darkness" closing the night, followed by a Q&A with co-writer/director Sean Branney and co-writer/producer Andrew Leman of the HPLHS.  According to the Time's article:
"The exhibit of the film’s props, costumes and miniature sets will be on display in the theater’s Grand Vision Annex — attendees will be able to tour the exhibit during a VIP reception on Friday and at the closing night reception, which is open to all ticketholders on Saturday."
The number of vendors has increased, as well, with a diverse and kickass collection that includes Famous Monsters of Filmland, Fez-o-Rama, Badali Jewelry, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, SighCo, Arkham Bazaar, David Milano, Joyner Studio, Strange Aeons Magazine, and Perilous Press & Mike Dubisch.  On a personal level, I'm super excited that stellar artist and pal Nick "The Hat" Gucker is flying down on gaunt, nighted wings from mist huddled Seattle to exercise some creative demons, work on his tan, rep the fantastic Strange Aeons, and hand out bookmarks to celebrate the upcoming release of the Aklonomicon (which features my stories "Flutes" and "In the Cave, She Sang," both with exceptional art by Paul Carrick, previously written about in The Comicomicon here).  The weepy man hugging will be the stuff of legend.

But, to quote the great Marty Di Bergi from Spinal Tap:  "Enough of my yakkin.  Let's boogie."  Indeed... Boogie your ass down to San Pedro Friday and Saturday evening, if only to inform your curious soul that the present and future of Lovecraftiana is as vibrant, exciting, and sanity-threatening as ever.

(Get all your festival and ticket information here, as well as further vendor info here)

BTW, there will be several readings during the panel, including my beloved Ives honoring me beyond measure by giving velvet voice to one of my tales.  You'll have to show up to find out which one...

Keep your eyeball smashed to this space in the days following the festival for a full-on report, complete with candid photos, embarrassing anecdotes, and clues to the location of a hidden body or two...


  1. HBA Welcome Wagon...
    Wanted to let you know, you part of the Alliance.
    Please stop by and check to make sure your link is correct.
    Remember to say Thank You and visit the other HBA Members.

    Jeremy [iZombie]
    HBA Staff

  2. Im starting to think that Los Angeles is the place I need to be...