For the RIP Challenge, not only did I commit to reading House of Leaves but I also decided to read a short story, my choice being At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. I had wanted to read At the Mountains of Madness for a while, ever since I read online Guillermo Del Toro was adapting the story for a movie. I’m a fan of his liking both Hell Boy movies and Blade 2. I feel he’s shown a good balance between character development and action and always felt he should have had a shot at directing a Harry Potter film. So I was pretty disappointed to learn At the Mountains of Madness was canned (but no Tom Cruise to suffer through so Bonus!). But that did not stop me so along with reading that, I decided to give two other Lovecraft tales a shot; The Outsider and The Rats in the Walls.
At the Mountains of Madness was my introduction to H.P. Lovecraft since it was the story I was most excited to read. Surprisingly (and unfortunately) it turned out to be my least favorite, which really bummed me out. It starts out very slow, with the narrator describing everything about the journey and settling in at the camps for an Antarctic expedition. And I mean EV. ERY. THING. I read through it but it didn’t stick. The story picked up some when a group from the expedition decided to further explore based on some very interesting fossils that were discovered. The radio messages relayed were fun showcasing a scientist’s excitement of a new discovery that could rewrite the scientific communities established theories. Then things go horribly wrong and you would think that’s when the story would get exciting but that’s when the story went downhill for me. The radio messages stop and now a new expedition is launched to find the first group who have gone silent.
The narrator keeps warning and hinting at these “horrors” but when they were finally revealed I didn’t find them to be all that horrifying. I can only imagine that if Guillermo Del Toro is finally able to revisit a film adaptation, that he will correct this (and hopefully without Tom Cruise).
Even though I was disappointed with At the Mountains of Madness, I didn’t want that to be my only experience with H.P. Lovecraft so I went on to read The Outsider. This was a much better read. It felt like something that would have been part of Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories in Fragile Things. We have someone trying to escape a prison of foreboding walls that surround and block out the stars. He climbs and climbs until he’s free and discovers why the stars had been hidden. It’s a surprise ending that reminded me of The Sixth Sense and A Study in Emerald from the Fragile Things collection, but it was a much more frightening reveal that made this an enjoyable read. And then I came to…
The Rats in the Walls. Don’t you just love that title?! And this story was CREEPY! And you know from the beginning that something is going to happen. With At the Mountains of Madness and The Outsider there are vague hints to what might happen. With The Rats in the Walls, you get vague and not so vague hints and the build-up definitely delivers. This is a story I would love to see adapted to film. I could have done without the name of a cat in the story but The Rats in the Walls was creepy and gross and had a truly shocking, sad, disgusting ending! It was SO GOOD! And then the following night I go and watch Let Me In! I was on a roll with the freak outs two nights in a row!
I’m so glad I didn’t let At the Mountain of Madness be the only story of H.P. Lovecraft tales be all that I know. After The Outsider and The Rats in the Walls, I want to read more. Gah! Rats in the Walls still gives me the creeps thinking about it! It’s awesome!