Howard Phillips Lovecraft, an American novelist, was a dedicated lover of the macabre and the horrific. Dedicating his life to the art of writing, H.P. Lovecraft wrote some of the scariest, creepiest stories ever to be produced. His art of writing stories did not follow the typical “Boo!” scary stories, where you know why you should feel afraid. No, H.P. Lovecraft skirted fear and wielded it like a weapon – showing you just enough to feel terrified, yet not enough to fully understand. This was previously unheard of, and these days it is referred to as a Lovecraftian literary tool.
In 1926, with the creation of Cthulhu, Lovecraft changed the world of horror forever. Cthulhu, a high priest to the Old Gods, is a fictional entity that first appeared in the story “The Call of Cthulhu,” by H.P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu is a hideous, gargantuan being that instills terror into all that come in contact with it. However, Lovecraft was infamous for never truly describing detailed events of characters directly contacting Cthulhu. Even the description of Cthulhu is based off of statues loosely depicting the ancient, gargantuan entity.
The true fear of the Cthulhu mythos stems from insanity. The more a human tries to understand Cthulhu, the faster the individual falls into madness. Lovecraft enjoyed toying with the idea of a human mental breaking point, like there was no way for a human to truly grasp the concept of Cthulhu. If you have ever read a Lovecraft story, you can see this in the writing style. Lovecraft writes in such a way that you literally feel like you are falling into madness and insanity yourself. You hear, imagine, see, and think about things differently, and it scares you. Lovecraft gets into your head and messes with the wiring, similar to the way Cthulhu invaded the minds of fictional characters and drove them far from the safety of sanity.
If we were to look at Lovecraft from a Halloween standpoint, we should observe his use of the subtle and abstract. Rather than directly attempting to scare his readers, he used atmosphere and vagueness to terrify. If you are planning to scare your visitors this Halloween, immerse them in the sensational feeling of horror, not the direct visibility of it. Utilize the surroundings to create subtle cues that cause the heart to race and the hair to stand on end. H.P. Lovecraft would be proud.