HP Lovecraft Film Festival: Classic Short Films, Vol. 3

The following Film has been approved for Mythos Audiences Only

The latest compilation of films shown at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in its early days, before they began to release the annual “Best of” DVDs starting with 2014. This set is especially interesting since each film is preceded by a short introduction with some background info on the filmmakers and the Festival itself by Brian Callahan.

Also interesting is that all but one of these short film are either an adaptation of a Lovecraft story or a prequel. In the later Festival selections, the ratio changes and the original films with Lovecraftian-tones outnumber the adaptations.

The Outsider (1994)

This was the very first film ever shown at the Film Festival, based on Lovecraft’s short story of a person who believes he lives alone in a gloomy old castle, until one night when he scales the ruined tower to its very top… and discovers that his existence is not at all what he thought it was. Like many films in this collection, it has a simple soundtrack with music and a voiceover narration, but no dialog.

The Outsider

The one noteworthy change in this adaptation is that the narrator has a lady-love named Anastasia. He adores her, but she seems rather bored by him and his occult interests. No surprise that she has another lover.

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Quick Audio Story Reviews: E

Batch of quick reviews of Big Finish stories beginning with E.

Echoes of Extinction

A two-part audio story — each with its own Doctor! — part of the Time Lord Victorious series.

Echoes of Extinction

The 8th Doctor arrives on a space station in orbit around a dead world. An entity (for want of a better word to describe it without giving too much away) has killed everyone on the planet, apart from one woman on the station, attended by a robot servant. She was already desperate to escape before the Tardis appeared, and she begs the Doctor to take her away, right away, before “He” gets back.

Of course, the Doctor doesn’t leave immediately, but hangs around to figure the situation out. “He” does return, ready to kill the Doctor the same way he killed the others. He says it’s what he does, and he does it to stop the voices.

Some time later, the 10th Doctor returns to the same planet with a salvage team paid handsomely to retrieve an object. The Doctor doesn’t remember the place at first — it has been centuries for him — but it all starts to come back when the team discovers the robot, which he left on the space station. The entity is here too.

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Quick Audio Story Reviews: D

The Dalek Occupation of Winter

Dalek Occupation of Winter

The first Doctor (voiced by Peter Purves, who doubles as Stephen) and his two companions land on an old colony world appropriately named Winter, since the cold and snow go on for centuries. Yet they have fresh fruit at market stalls.

The locals attribute this to their dedicated brightest students who graduate and go off to the Research Center to develop new ways to keep everyone on the planet alive… and are never seen again. That’s the way it’s been for over 200 years and they’re all happy with it.

There just happens to be a graduation that day, and Winter’s leader is up on the stage along with the alien ambassador who has helped make all this possible. Well, it’s right there in the title: only the Doctor et al are horrified to see a Dalek.

While Stephen makes friends with a factory worker, and works in the factory for himself long enough to see that they’re making Dalek casings, Vicki finds out what’s really going on at the Research Center. The Doctor gets close to the planet’s leader.

I enjoyed almost all of this, especially because even as the rebellion gets underway, the leader remains a smarmy politician who only changes his mind about getting rid of his Dalek overlords when he sees how things are going. When the Doctor leaves, he’s still the one in charge of Winter and rebuilding their society; whether or not he’s capable of it was an interesting slant on the situation.

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Dr. Who – Once & Future: Past Lives

Big Finish celebrates Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary this year with a series of audio stories, to be released monthly. These feature every Who actor they could get, plus the usual voice actors for characters who were played by well-beloved actors who are gone. The first story just came out last week.

Past Lives

It’s hard to pick up an overarching concept from the first scene, but I gather that the Doctor (incarnation unspecified, but probably the War Doctor played by the late John Hurt) is found wounded by an unknown enemy and weapon during the Time War.

His injury triggers a wild “degeneration”: We briefly hear Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor, Colin Baker’s 6th, then the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, before he finally settles down on Tom Baker’s 4th. I assume he’ll change again for subsequent stories in this series.

4th Doctor

“You might say I’m revisiting a past life.”

The other thing I infer from this story: Big Finish has a deck of Tarot-like cards with the various Doctors, companions, and other established characters on them. When he was given this story to work on, writer Robert Valentine drew the following cards from the deck:

  • The 4th Doctor.
  • Sarah Jane Smith.
  • The Meddling Monk.
  • Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Petronella Osgood from UNIT.

This collection of characters has that random feel to it, but it turns out to be an entertaining mix of old and new Who.

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Quick Audio Story Reviews: C

More short reviews of Big Finish audio stories in alphabetical order. This bunch begins with C.


Catch 1782

The 6th Doctor and Mel drop in to visit Mel’s scientist/historian uncle and attend the Centenary celebration of a Research Foundation based on the grounds of the old family home, Hallam Hall. The house is said to be haunted by a woman who pleads desperately for help.

The Doctor has already heard this pleading voice during a “kink in time” in the Tardis just before they landed, so he’s very interested.

Mel scoffs at the ghost and is more interested in the family history, especially one mysterious woman called Eleanor Hallam. She’s in her uncle’s study, where the Tardis is parked; its proximity to a prototype metal canister that Uncle John made for the space program (and intended to bury as a time capsule during the celebration) creates that time kink and sends her back to 1781. Concussed, disoriented, and confused, she can’t explain her appearance there, but when she says her name, the 1780s of master of the house, Henry Hallam, hears it as “Nel.” Thus she ends up becoming the mysterious Eleanor.

By the time the Doctor and Uncle John locate her via the Tardis, it’s six months later. Mel’s concussion is long gone, but the local doctor has kept her so doped up with laudanum that she still isn’t thinking straight. They must get her out, but there are a couple of problems:

  1. Henry Hallam has fallen in love with her and will keep her with him at all costs.
  2. Eleanor is part of the timeline and doesn’t disappear from the historical records until 1811. Surely they can’t let her sit there for that long?
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HP Lovecraft Film Festival, Best of 2021

The BluRay for the best short horror films from around the world shown at the 2021 HP Lovecraft Film Festival arrived a few days ago. It’s a mixed batch, homages and loosely based allusions to Lovecraft stories, several striking images, and a very nice black and white adaptation of one of the more popular tales.


A very short Ukrainian film about a ritual to bring a loved one back that appears to have gone horribly wrong. 


The imagery is Native American, and the words we see written are in English (although there is another language, untranslated, playing on a tape recorder).

There is some nice nature photography outside the cabin where the disaster has occurred, including a cute little snail.

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Quick Audio Story Reviews: B

Blood of the Daleks

Blood of the Daleks

Big Finish was having a “_____________ of the Daleks” sale, so I downloaded a bunch of these.

More Daleks to come!

This story is a two-parter (originally on two separate discs). The 8th Doctor accidentally acquires a new companion, a modern, mouthy girl named Lucie Miller just before he lands on a future Earth colony planet that looks like it’s recently suffered a nuclear winter. Actually, it was an asteroid strike, but the deadly effects on the environment are about the same.

The survivors are angry and desperate… when their harried governor announces that she’s been contacted by friendly aliens who are coming to transport them to other human worlds. “Rescue is at hand!”

These benevolent aliens? The Daleks, of course.

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Quick Audio Story Reviews: A

Some more quick reviews of Big Finish audio stories in alphabetical order, today those beginning with A:

The Apocalypse Element

The Apocalypse Element

When a planetoid disappeared twenty years ago, Gallifrey’s new President Romana and 300 other people went with it. Some of them turned up dead with signs of suffering effects of a time distortion, but Romana was not among them.

Twenty years later, Time Lord officials are attending a conference with representatives of other time travelling planets. The 6th Doctor and Evelyn Smythe pop in just as the missing planetoid reappears — heavily mined and full of Daleks. No surprise that they’re behind this; there’s one right on the cover art.

Much shooting and screaming “Exterminate!” follows. Poor Romana, who has been kept prisoner all this time, escapes with one of the other prisoners and is reunited with the Doctor (“Wrong body,” she observes.) The Daleks soon overrun the conference and threaten Gallifrey itself, not to mention an entire galaxy and eventually the whole universe.

There’s a lot of casual carnage in this story, and one grisly bit when the Daleks trick their way around the Time Lords’ security system, but the danger is presented as real enough to make the Doctor snap at Evelyn when she fails to grasp the scale of what the Daleks intend to do. And it’s always lovely to hear from Lalla Ward again. The one thing I’m sorry about is that the state of emergency didn’t allow this Doctor and Romana to spend more time together. They do have one or two nice moments, though.

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Quick Audio Story Reviews: 100

There have been so many Big Finish sales the last few months that I’ve succumbed to temptation and downloaded over a hundred audio stories — some I haven’t even had a chance to listen to yet.

I thought I’d do some quick reviews of them in alphabetical order, the order in which my phone storage lists them.


100 BC

This is the first of the stories in the 100 set, featuring the 6th Doctor. It’s a short, comedic tale of the Doctor’s visit to the Roman Republic just nine months before the birth of Julius Caesar. After accidentally interrupting the future Caesar’s parents on what should be Baby Night, the Doctor attempts to get the couple back in the mood while his companion Evelyn Smythe, for reasons of her own, tries to spoil things and change the course of history.

It’s rare to find the Doctor in the middle of a sex comedy, and this one was quite funny without being smutty. I laughed out loud a couple of times.

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The Black Stone

“They say foul things of Old Times still lurk in dark forgotten
corners of the world. And Gates still gape to loose, on certain
nights, shapes pent in Hell.”

This is my favorite Robert E. Howard story, and in my opinion his best  Lovecraftian one, so I was delighted when I heard that Dark Adventure Radio Theatre was doing an adaptation of it. Although a downloadable version was available earlier, the CD with props finally arrived just before the holiday weekend.

Black Stone props

In The Black Stone, an unnamed first-person narrator, acquainted with von Junzt’s occult book, Unaussprechlichen Kulten*, as well as the mad poet Justin Geoffrey’s “People of the Monolith,” takes his vacation in the location where the Monolith, or Black Stone, stands; this is in the mountains of rural Hungary, on an open meadow plateau above a tiny village with the intriguing name of Stregoicavar: the Witch Village. The age of this mysterious stone object is disputed; some claim a fabulous antiquity and puzzle over the strange markings upon in.

At Stregoicavar, the protagonist not only examines the Black Stone for himself, but learns something about its true age, the barbaric rites performed there on Midsummer nights long ago, and the reason why Justin Geoffrey went mad after his visit here — more than he really wanted to know.

The HPL Historical Society takes this tale and builds upon it, adding the usual spirited period dialog to enliven the audio drama and bestowing upon the nameless hero not just a name, but a character which DART fans are already familiar with: Charlie Tower.

Charlie TowerThis is not, however, the millionaire playboy adventurer we know from The Whisperer in  Darkness, Brotherhood of the Beast, and Dagon: War of the Worlds. He’s a younger man, freshly scarred and disenchanted by the earthly horrors of the first World War.

In the summer of 1919, young Charlie (played by Sean Branney) is hanging around Europe after the war in pursuit of various decadent pleasures. We find him in Berlin in a nightclub named Himmel und Hölle –Heaven & Hell — sipping champagne and chatting with an underaged Marlene Dietrich, when he hears a poet read Geoffrey’s “People of the Monolith.”

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