The perfect HP Lovecraft title to follow on from 2010’s “At The Mountains Of Madness”, and the only HPL title not to appear in a periodical! Perfect also because it is split in to 5 distinct chapters…ripe for abridgement in to five half hour episodes! “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” tells the first-person story of a young historian, Robert Olmstead, who, while investigating his family genealogy in New England, is intrigued to learn about a hated and mysterious fishing-town called Innsmouth. When he visits he finds the place to be run-down and near-deserted, with a cult-like religion and a strange, degenerate population. His investigation soon turns in to a race to escape the town and the the evil creatures he sees emerging from the sea.
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” was written by HP Lovecraft in 1931 and is the only one of his works of fiction not to have initially been published as part of a periodical. It continues HPL’s Cthulhu Mythos, featuring townspeople worshipping the elder sea god Dagon and mentioning the mysterious Shoggoth creature of his other works.
Howard Phillips “H. P.” Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the sub-genre known as weird fiction. As early as the 1940s, Lovecraft had developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of humanity-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical.
Although Lovecraft’s readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th Century. Stephen King called him “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”
This 2011 adaptation comprises 5 episodes, originally aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra, once again read by the superb RICHARD COYLE and featuring music by acclaimed composer JON NICHOLLS. The series is offered here in exclusive EXTENDED EDITIONS.
Part One – The Arrival
In episode one, Robert Olmstead begins by describing in detail the events surrounding his initial interest in the New England town of Innsmouth (antiquarian and architectural). While he waits for the bus that will take him to the much-hated town, he busies himself in the neighbouring town of Newburyport by gathering information from local townsfolk; all of it with superstitious overtones.
Part Two – Innsmouth
Part two of the story details Robert Olmstead’s journey into Innsmouth, described in great detail as a crumbling, mostly deserted town full of dilapidated structures and people who look just a bit odd and who tend to walk with a distinct shambling gait. Only one person in town appears normal, a young clerk at the local grocery store who comes from neighbouring Arkham. The narrator gathers much information from the clerk, including a map of the town and the name of a local who might be a good source of information: a man named Zadok Allen, known to open up about the town when plied with drink.
Part Three – Allan’s Tale
In part three of the tale Robert Olmstead listens to local drunk Zadok Allen who is very old, has seen much in the town and goes on at length, telling a tale of fish-frog men known as Deep Ones who live beneath the sea. It seems they bring prosperity in the form of fish as well as fantastically wrought gold jewellery to those who offer them human sacrifice. These fish-frog men are amphibious and willing to come to land to mate with humans, creating deformed offspring who can live forever. When hard times befell Innsmouth, Obed Marsh and some followers did what they could to call up the fish-frog men in their New England town. When the story is over, the narrator is unnerved but thinks it a product of a fertile imagination.
Part Four – The Chase
In part four of the tale Robert Olmstead is forced to spend the night in town, after being told that the bus in which he came to Innsmouth is experiencing engine trouble. While attempting to sleep, he hears noises at his door. Wasting no time, he attempts to escape out a window and through the streets, at times imitating the peculiar walk of the Innsmouth locals. Eventually he makes his way to some train tracks where he hears a great many creatures heading towards him up the road from the town and shoreline.
Part Five – Revelations
In the fifth and final part of the story Robert Olmstead hides from the hideous-sounding crowd in a railway cutting and resolves to close his eyes, having at this point come to accept the idea that Zadok’s story is true. He cannot keep them closed, however, and upon seeing the fish-frog creatures in full light for the first time, faints in his hiding spot. He late wakes up unharmed and quickly walks to the next town. Over the years that pass, he begins doing research into his family tree, discovering some disturbing information along the way. Eventually it becomes clear that he is a descendant of Obed Marsh himself and nightmares accompany the narrator’s realisation that he is changing into one of the creatures!