I have often wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences—Freud to the contrary with his puerile symbolism—there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character permit of no ordinary interpretation, and whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life, yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier.
From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know, and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon. (from “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” by H.P. Lovecraft, 1919 — online source)
Sleep, and the dream world it gives entry to, plays a significant role in many of Lovecraft’s stories. “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” is one example; “The Dreams in the Witch House” (1932), recently filmed by Stuart Gordon in the first season of the Masters of Horror TV series, is another. The connected stories “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” (1926-27), “The Silver Key” (1926) and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (1932-33) — or the Dream Cycle as they are often referred to — create a sort of sub-mythology within Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, positing the existence of the Dreamlands — an alternate dimension that can only be accessed via dreams. The Dreamlands are inhabited by a variety of strange creatures and ruled over from the city of Kadath by the Great Ones — or Other Gods — and Nyarlathotep (the “Crawling Chaos”), who is their protector (pictured below by Patrick McEvoy).
This is what Lovecraft says of Nyarlathotep:
And through this revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods — the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep. (from the story “Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft)
A Lovecraftian film that isn’t, as far as I know, based on any particular Lovecraft story, but which takes much from the feel and mythos of his work, is The Sleeping Deep, written and directed by Jeffrey Blake Palmer.
So far the film exists only as a script and some test footage — but given that the script has won numerous awards (check the list on the poster above) and that the trailer looks fantastic, one can only hope that someone coughs up some significant backing soon. It is being produced by a company named Red Brick Films, set up by writer/director Jeff Palmer (pictured at left at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, where the script took the award for Best Screenplay) and San Jose cinematographer John Tulin.
The script has garnered praise in and out of Hollywood, with its mix of modern and Lovecraftian horror, described by Palmer as “a nod to Hitchcock, Stephen King and, yes, H.P. Lovecraft”, yet bearing “its own brand of chills and thrills”. Hollywood script reader Monica Partridge is quoted as saying, “The Sleeping Deep is an effects-driven dual reality horror, evocative of The Cell. This was one of my most favorite scripts from this year’s competition season.” (PRLog)
The teaser has only added to the excitement. With excellent music by Shawn P. Russell, and rather impressive SFX, it looks like a winner to me.
Palmer has commented:
The goal of this [teaser] was to show what could be achieved on limited resources, and I think we successfully produced results. But in order to respect the screenplay and do The Sleeping Deep justice… we’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Newly Released Promotional Teaser:
Not only are those ethereal eels reminiscent of many images of Nyarlathotep, but they also remind me of Stuart Gordon’s excellent version of the Lovecraft story From Beyond (US-1986), with its floating piscean monstrosities, wrenched into this world not through the gates of sleep but through the artificial over-stimulation of the pineal gland.
Here is a longer scene excerpt from The Sleeping Deep:
The central bad guy/monster of this film seems to be a character named Mazimus, who features on an alternative advertising poster for The Sleeping Deep:
Mazimus has been used promotionally in quite a spectacular fashion (see below). Clearly these guys mean business (though that poster was Photoshopped on, surely. It’d be hellishly expensive in real life. Jeff?):
Mazimus is also the focus of a possible sequel to The Sleeping Deep — The Sleeping Deep 2: Mazimus — two of which you can see in the Gallery below. The rest you can view on the film’s blog.
Mazimus may not bear the moniker of Lovecraft’s “Crawling Chaos” but he certainly displays more than a passing resemblance to Nyarlathotep nevertheless.
- Sources: Wikipedia entry for Nyarlathotep; Official website; PRLog; The Sleeping Deep Production Blog; Mazimus website. Thanks once again to Avery for finding this one.
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