If there’s one certain effect that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the “MCU”) has had on the Hollywood system, it’s been the enshrinement of the “shared universe” as the keystone to producing insanely profitable franchises.
The irony, of course, is that pretty much no one else has had a fraction of Marvel’s success at doing so. The DC Cinematic Universe has floundered on pretty much everything except Wonder Woman, but keeps plugging away, hoping to turn its momentum around. Universal’s “Dark Universe,” meanwhile, got off to multiple false starts before 2017’s sodden The Mummy hurt any potential cred it has going forward. It would seem that creating a cinematic universe is much harder than it looks.
The potential failure of the latter seems particularly relevant to the potential idea of creating a cinematic universe based around the work of author H.P. Lovecraft. That idea was recently alluded to by none other than scream queen and horror legend Barbara Crampton, who starred in a series of Lovecraft-tinged horror films in the ‘80s, including From Beyond, Castle Freak and the classic Re-Animator, in addition to great, modern horror fare such as We Are Still Here. Via Twitter, Crampton said that a remake of the movie Castle Freak was being “written as we tweet,” and would be part of an “expanded Lovecraft universe,” although it isn’t entirely clear what this means.
It would probably be fair to categorize the original 1995 Castle Freak as one of the lesser works of director Stuart Gordon, who brought us everything from the original Re-Animator to the cult classic sci-fi movie Robot Jox. Like several of his other films, it’s loosely based on a Lovecraft story (“The Outsider”), but in this case the term “loosely” means VERY loosely. The film is the story of a stressed, estranged family (anchored by Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs and Crampton) who move into an ancient castle to “start over,” but unfortunately find that the castle contains, well … a freak. That’s what happens when you don’t thoroughly vet your castle before moving in, I guess.
It sounds to us that if such a film does happen, it will be happening on a much smaller budget, independent scale, which might very well be the way to go in terms of adaptations of nichey H.P. Lovecraft material. The highest profile Lovecraft adaptation in recent memory is still Guillermo Del Toro’s failed attempt to make At the Mountains of Madness, a project that has been revived and killed multiple times like one of the unfortunate souls in Re-Animator. Let’s hope that Crampton and her cohorts have better luck.