The Black Goat Project sounds like some sort of covert Government operation — a secret-service incursion into an obscure mountainous principality in central Europe perhaps, or a scientific experiment in genetic manipulation focusing on the hybridisation of goats and trainee CIA agents.
In fact, in refers to an undertaking of filmmaker Joseph Nanni — the production of, in the first instance, a short teaser film that involves Shub-Niggurath, or “The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”, who is a little-mentioned deity from the Cthulhu Mythos of New England horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. The second part of the project is more ambitious: to make of full-length version of the teaser.
So what is Shub-Niggurath?
In the Backbrain article A Lovecraftian Invasion 1: Dirt Dauber, we drew attention to a film that also references that particular deity, though in a quite different way. Nevertheless it would be worth your while to go and read the article, because it includes information on Shub-Niggurath and speculations relating to her, and I don’t intend to repeat it all here. So, off you go! We’ll still be here when you get back.
The following image is a visualisation of Shub-Niggurath by “verreaux“. It attempts to capture both the Satanic “black goat” aspect of the name and the vaguer descriptions of Lovecraft’s appropriation of the epithet.
Writer/director Joseph Nanni’s “Black Goat” takes a similar approach to the depiction of Shub-Niggurath. The atmospheric landscape, with its ghostly tree-lines and the ritualistic elements are all designed to create the sort of dread that is a characteristic quality of Lovecraft’s work.
Jacques Cowan is what the French call “a runner of the woods.” He may be a foreigner in the new world but Jacques quickly learned the ways of the native people, their language, their routes, and their skills. But he didn’t leave his life in another land for adventure, freedom, and wealth — he had much more in mind than trading pelts and cheating death. Jacques had listened intently to the stories that had crossed the ocean, extraordinary tales of mystical creatures and unknown forces. Black Goat finds Jacques mid-hunt, as he closes in on what others thought was a legend. What he doesn’t realize is that the legend is on a hunt of its own.
Check out the teaser/short film for yourself:
Some Production Shots:
Next step is the full-on production of the feature-length film (which will, one assumes, involve a LOT more sloshing around in the snowbound landscape). Nanni explained: “We’re currently in development and have a rather major distributor working with us. We haven’t talked cast yet, although Adam Wilson (Manson, Ending The Eternal) is locked in to play the lead. Production design has started, but I still may reach out to some Lovecraft luminaries for concept design.”
One such “luminary” is already on board. Lovecraft artist Dave Carson will be (as Nanni puts it) “helping us realize some Elder God nastiness for the upcoming feature Black Goat.” Check out Carson’s work here.
Below is one of his earlier renditions of Shub-Niggurath:
Nanni also noted that Guillermo del Toro called the trailer “impeccable” and said, “I love Black Goat. I cannot say it enough.”
Anyway, going on the quality of the “teaser” short, a feature-length version of The Black Goat is something to look forward to. It might not be a replacement for Del Toro’s abandoned multi-million-dollar At the Mountains of Madness, but it may very well be a more-than-decent piece of Lovecraftian cinema.