I was on Yog-Sothoth.com earlier today when a post caught my eye. Someone was asking for the Yoggies to critique a monster he created. His complaint was that he did not find his monster scary enough and he wanted to know how to do so.
Looking at his monster, I began to think. What do I find scariest and that has drawn me to Lovecraft’s work.
First, the verbiage. The use of words that make you wonder if you need to be insane to understand what is said. The creatures are rarely described in details and usually have a fuzzy and unclear picture of them given to the reader. The “big bad blob” could be applied to many of the horrors therein, but BBB is not very scary.
Second, mind over senses. The creatures are rarely clearly detailed and those impressions often leave the reader puzzled, trying to make sense of what is being described. This use of the reader’s mind to create some strange beast out of nothing draws you in for more because the reader wishes to know more about exactly WHAT he is seeing in his mind’s eye.
Third, it’s not scary if you see it. Okay, this is almost the same as #2. However, here my point is that I find creatures to be horrible in my head, but when looking at the CoC rulebook, those creatures do not terrify me. The movie “Evil Dead” is one of my favorite all-time horror movies (let’s not talk about ED2 or Army of Darkness as horror movies). Evil Dead (“L’Opera de la terreur” in French) has everything that it needs to be scary: zombies, spells, and a terrible creature that keeps stalking the inhabitants of the cottage. Best thing is… YOU DON’T SEE IT. Man… I need to see that movie again!
Evil Dead gave us Bruce Campbell, if you haven’t seen it, get it NOW! RUN! Drop whatever you are doing and lock yourself in a dark room with your TV!
Perhaps, the best way to summarize my point lies with HP Lovecraft himself.
“My somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.... A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings.” –HP Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu