Wednesday, May 18

On Cosmic Horror

I like reading Cosmic Horror (although I personally can't read much Lovecraft - his stuff is just way too dense with purple prose). It's all about eldritch horrors that we can barely fathom, creatures that if we actually knew enough about them, we would go barking mad. It's about a universe without hope - about creatures so powerful, we cannot defeat them, just hope to distract them, hold them back for a few years or decades. But eventually, they will arrive or awaken and we will all be royally screwed.

It reminds me of this movie I learned about from Stephen King. He wrote about it in Danse Macabre. It was called X- The Man With The X-Ray Eyes. On the surface, a schlocky cheap sci-fi film about a genius who invents eyedrops that allow him to have x-ray vision. He uses them to cheat at cards and see through girls' clothing (which is probably what we would do, if we had that power, right?).

But then he starts to see something else. His vision goes behind clothes, skin, muscle, bone, beyond everything, until he starts to see through the world itself, see into the center of the universe. And there, he sees something, some amorphous blob of pulsating colors. And throughout the movie, these colors grow larger and larger, brighter and brighter, while this genius hides his eyes behind a blindfold.

And then in the movie's climactic scene, when the bright light is almost overwhelming (and we know this is because something is coming here), he whips off his blindfold and we see his eyes are pitch black. He can't take it anymore, so he rips out his eyeballs and the movie ends on his empty sockets.

Stephen King writes of a rumor about the original ending, though, which is much scarier. He says there was supposed to be a line cut out. Just one line. The main character, after ripping his eyeballs out, was supposed to yell, "I CAN STILL SEE!"

And that is Cosmic Horror.

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