A Lovecraft Alien Invasion Will Creep You Out For Halloween
Halloween is fast approaching, and with it, the urge to watch creepy movies, listen to creepy music, and read creepy stories. “The Colour Out of Space”, written by American writer H.P. Lovecraft, (but still spelled in the fucked up Canadian way) is just that kind of a creepy story.
On the surface, “Colour” appears to be your typical alien invasion story. A comet crashes. People study it doing weird things. But then you realize it was written by Lovecraft, so you know it’s going to get weird and ambiguously horrible.
What’s great about this alien story is that Lovecraft’s imagination truly grasped one thing: Aliens are probably not just people with antennae or weird makeup on their foreheads.
Instead, it’s never really explained what the alien is. There is a strange colour that appears near the site where the meteor struck. Whether this is the alien itself or just a residue or byproduct left by the alien(s) is not exactly clear. What is clear, however, is that the alien(s) cause unspeakably horrible things to happen to the denizens of earth.
I know this is a bit subjective, but I have always been especially creeped out by alien invasion stories. How helpless would humanity be against beings who have mastered space travel? How much more so if we can’t even recognize what the being is? Or how to communicate with it? Or how to kill it, even? This story played on all those fears for me.
When you’re reading this one, I highly recommend reading it at night in the most quiet place you can. Your ears will attune to the slightest noises–things you don’t usually notice, and they will be terrifying. The first time I read this story, I was in exactly such a setting and already a little weirded out. Suddenly a video ad on some unknown browser window on my computer in the next room came on for God knows what reason, and it scared the holy crap out of me. For just a fraction of a second–just long enough–I felt pretty sure that somehow the colour was here for me.
When you’re reading this, you may want to have a dictionary on hand. (I mean, unless you’re a vocabulary wizard.) In his book about writing (coincidentally called On Writing), Stephen King said that Lovecraft-ian words would seep into his own writing, resulting in “luxurious and Byzantine” prose. When you read the descriptive language in this story, you’ll understand why. Many of the word choices are perfect for creating the mood of ambiguity and horror that makes Lovecraft such a pleasure to read; however, many of those words were also unfamiliar to me the first time I read this.
And that’s all I’ve got, Booksluttians. By all means, read this lovely work of horror, but I’d also love to hear if you have any recommendations of your own horror favorites in the comments below!
Feature image: Virgil Finlay illustration for “The Colour Out Of Space”