While one day I aspire to collecting the Arkham editions, I at first needed to know if I would even like Lovecraft. I have read Cthulhu Mythos styled writers (such as Brian Lumley) in the past and really loved them. However, many people dislike the writers that took up the Lovecraftian mantle so I was worried that I may not like Lovecraft in the same vein. It was not the case.
The most difficult task of reading Lovecraft is to sort through some difficult text and vague writing styles (the stories were written long ago). If readers can get used to Lovecraft’s prose, they’ll be rewarded with some of the best short stories ever written. A main reason I wished to read Lovecraft's work is because being such a horror genre fan, I felt I had to read him. So many films, novels, comics, and other materials are based upon his work and if not outright based on it, Lovecraft's influence in the horror genre is virtually everywhere!
The other two collections were geared towards Lovecraft's Cthulhu and Dreamlands stories but The Road To Madness reads a little differently. The loose connection between these short stories seems to be stories where his characters tend to go mad.
There’s some great fiction in here. Horror movie fans most likely have heard of the Re-Animator films; that’s included here titled Herbert West – Reanimator. Many have stated to me that it is nowhere near similar to the films but I actually thought it was. Sure, it didn't have the comedy and campiness the films had but it was quite neat to read parts of the story that I remembered in the films. One scene in particular took place when Dr. West was running is crazed experiments during the Great War. While it's in the film 'Bride Of Re-Animator' for only a few moments, I found it neat to see the writers of the film at least loosely tied different parts of the story into the films.
Another story made into a film is the Lurking Fear. I have been a Full Moon pictures fan for a while and didn't mind the average quality movie. However, like many films that seem to take a Lovecraftian title or story, it's barely recognizable. I don't know how the filmmakers even were justified in using the title 'The Lurking Fear' for their film. Although it appears to be common for supposed Lovecraftian films (see the other stories/films in this collection such as 'The Unnamable).
John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness is another film I really loved. While the title was slightly different, Lovecraft's longer length story At The Mountains Of Madness I had hoped would be similar. It wasn't. The film had a Lovecraftian, spooky atmosphere that I imagine when I read Lovecraft, but the movie itself had virtually nothing to do with the story. Still, the actual Lovecraft story is a fun read.
There are many amazingly great stories contained in this collection. A recent favorite (most likely because it's one of the last selections I read near the end of the book) is In the Walls of Eryx. It's a phenomenal science fictionish tale about a man prospecting on Venus who gets trapped in an invisible maze. I found it terrifying actually.
There are many short bits and early tales, even a poem in the collection. They rate mostly around average. It's the well rounded out 'finished' Lovecraftian stories that I found great. The Road To Madness is a must read for all ‘knowledgeable’ horror fans (those of us that like to think we know everything about it). After reading all three of these Dell Rey collections, I find myself identifying ‘Lovecraftian’ influences in almost everything! Spooky.
Introduction: The Man Who Loved His Craft by Barbara Hambly
The Beast in the Cave
Poetry and the Gods
The Transition of Juan Romero
The Book (A Fragment)
The White Ship
The Terrible Old Man
The Crawling Chaos
Herbert West: Reanimator
The Lurking Fear
Imprisoned with the Pharaohs
The Shunned House
The Horror at Red Hook
At the Mountains of Madness
In the Walls of Eryx
The Evil Clergyman