THE FIRST VISUALS CONTRAST MYSTERIOUS, SCARY, EXOTIC FAR AWAY PLACES WITH THE FRIGHTENING STARK NEW ENGLAD UNPAINTED HOUSE
THEIR PURPOSE IS TO SET THE ATMOSPHERE FOR STRANGE, AND NIGHTMARISH LOCATIONS. THE NARRATOR IS SPEAKING AS THE FILM SHOWS SCENES OF MYSTERIOUS PLACES: ANCIENT ITALIAN CATACOMBS AND GRAVEYARDS, CRUMBLING RHINE CASTLES, RUINS OF TEMPLES IN ASIA IN SHADOWS, GERMAN FORESTS AND HIGH DANGEROUS CLIFFS IN MOUNTAINS . . . TO THE WORST A PLAIN UNPAINTED HOUSES IN NEW ENGLAND SQUATING DEEP IN THE BACK WOODS . . .
NARRATOR (SPEAKING DARKLY AS THE SCENES OF SCARY PLACES ARE VIEWED BY THE AUDIENCE
Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.
SCENE 2. A MAN LOOMS FROM THE DOORWAY OF A SUPPOSEDLY ABANODONED WORN DOWN NEW ENGLAND HOUSE
“Ketched in the rain, be ye?” Glad ye was nigh the haouse en’ hed the sense ta come right in. I calc’late I was asleep, else I’d a heerd ye—I ain’t as young as I uster be, an’ I need a paowerful sight o’ naps naowadays. Trav’lin’ fur? I hain’t seed many folks ’long this rud sence they tuk off the Arkham stage.”
YOUNG MAN SHUDDERING AND CAUGHT OFF GUARD
I am on my way to Arkham. I . . . I am very sorry for intruding . . . your house seemed
“Glad ta see ye, young Sir—new faces is scurce arount here, an’ I hain’t got much ta cheer me up these days. Guess yew hail from Bosting, don’t ye? I never ben thar, but I kin tell a taown man when I see ’im—we hed one fer deestrick schoolmaster in ’eighty-four, but he quit suddent an’ no one never heerd on ’im sence”—(heh heh heh chuckling)
(PUZZLED) Do you mean he disappeared and never returned? But why did he quit?
(RECEIVING NO ANSWER THE YOUNG MAN PAUSES AND THEN RATHER FEARFULLY ASKS THE OLD MAN)
Pigafetta’s Regnum Congo is so incredibly rare, how were able to gain a copy?
“Oh, thet Afriky book? Cap’n Ebenezer Holt traded me thet in ’sixty-eight—him as was kilt in the war.”
THE YOUNG MAN JERKS UP HIS HEAD TO LOOK AT THE OLD MAN IN THE EYE – WHEN THE NAME EBENEZER HOLT CAUGHT HIS ATTENTION
WITHOUT PAUSING THE OLD MAN CONTINUES TALKING
“Queer haow picters kin set a body thinkin’. Take this un here near the front. Hev yew ever seed trees like thet, with big leaves a-floppin’ over an’ daown? And them men—them can’t be niggers—they dew beat all. Kinder like Injuns, I guess, even ef they be in Afriky. Some o’ these here critters looks like monkeys, or half monkeys an’ half men, but I never heerd o’ nothing like this un.” Here he pointed to a fabulous creature of the artist, which one might describe as a sort of dragon with the head of an alligator.
AND THEN THE OLD MAN’S VOICE THICKENED “But naow I’ll shew ye the best un—over here nigh the middle—”
He enters the room. He is looking here and there inside the house. Many signs inside were showing that the house is too old and has not been repaired for many years, probably, 100 years
Narrator is still glancing here and there with moves his nostrils as if he can smell a peculiar unpleasant odour.
Through a doorway, I could smell a faint but a peculiarly hateful odour. I looked at the staircase, probably it would be going down to the cellar. (Lovecraft 2007)
As soon as the narrator enters inside, unknowingly, he closes the door behind him. Standing and noticing everything with perplexed expressions.
There was something strange I mean I just could not define.. but something mysterious was there something.. something seemed redolent of unhallowed age. Something unholy, or wicked the whole place was like a secret I mean something fearful, hidden was there.. But what? I could not discern. (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator now enters a small low-ceiled chamber. It was dim lighted and there is a mysterious and eerie atmosphere.
(while walking here and there and watching carefully, coming to a window) The window was dusty and the room was furnished in the most primitive way. (Looking at the room) It appeared to a kind of sitting room. (Lovecraft 2007)
He looks at the table and several chairs. He also notices the fireplace and an antique clock hanging above the fireplace.
The narrator then finds some books and papers. He starts flipping through the books and the papers.
Narrator (while flipping through something like picture cards on them)
What interested me was the uniform air of archaism as displayed in every visible detail. Most of the houses in the region I found rich in relics of the past, but here the antiquity were curiously complete. Had the furnishing be less humble, the place would have been a collector's paradise. (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator is still examining the rooms and the various material including books.
I feared or loathed. There was an unpleasant crudeness and secrets which should be forgotten. I felt disinclined to sit down, and wandered about examining the various articles which I had noticed. (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator comes to a book. It was a heavy thick book, lying on the table. The narrator starts flipping it through
The book was presenting such an antediluvian aspect that I marvelled at beholding it outside the museum or a library. .(pause) It was bound in leather with metal fittings and was in an excellent state of preservation. (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator holds it, watches it carefully and whispers.
The Anziques of the Congo
While the narrator is going through the books and the pictures in it, there was weird background music, a sound of Congo chanting, screaming, torment.
There was a picture in which the nigro was represented in white skin and Caucasian features.
The narrator quickly closes the book. He is nervous and upset.
What annoyed me was merely the persistent way in which the volume tended to fall open of itself at Plate XII, which represented the gruesome detail a butcher's shop of the cannibal Anziques (Lovecraft 2007)
After closing the books the narrator turns to the next shelf, some more books like bible are there. He starts flipping through the books from this shelf.
I had turned to a neighbouring shelf and was examining its meagre literary contents—an eighteenth-century Bible, a Pilgrim’s Progress of like period, illustrated with grotesque woodcuts and printed by the almanack-maker Isaiah Thomas, the rotting bulk of Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana, and a few other books of evidently equal age (Lovecraft 2007)
The concentration of the narrator is broken suddenly by the sound of footsteps. The narrator suddenly turns back to see who is coming. He sees an old, white bearded and ragged man. He is not less than six feet. He is stout and proportionate.
The man is talking in a very crude dialect.
THE OLD MAN:
(Looks out of the window and asks) Ketch'd ya in the rain, b'ya? (Lovecraft 2007)
Sorry I must aplogize for entering in your house in this manner.. I mean without your permission. (A pause) (Lovecraft 2007)
The man stares at him with strange and mysterious look.
THE OLD MAN
That's all right, young sir. (Pause) Glad ye was nigh the haouse en'hed the sense to come right in. I calc'ate I was asleep, else I'd heerd ye. (sitting in a chair, and looking at him)
I ain't as young as I uster be, an' I need a powerful sight o'naps naowadays . (Pause) Trav'lin fur? I hain't seed many folks 'long this rud sence they tuk off the Arkham stage. (Lovecraft 2007)
(Startled) Actually, I was on my way to Arkham and could not go further because of the heavy storm and rain. (Pause, and looks at the face of the old man. The narrator is very nervous and restless) I found this apartment and came here to find refuge for sometimes till the rain stops. I am afraid, you don't mind.
The voice of the thunder
Glad ta see ye, young sir (he presses the narrator on his shoulder and pushed him below to make him sit in the chair) (Lovecraft 2007)
THE OLD MAN:
New faces is scurce arount here, an’ I hain’t got much ta cheer me up these days. Guess yew hail from Bosting, don’t ye? I never ben thar, but I kin tell a taown man when I see ’im—we hed one fer deestrick schoolmaster in ’eighty-four, but he quit suddent an’ no one never heerd on ’im sence—” Here the old man lapsed into a kind of chuckle, and made no explanation when I questioned him. (Lovecraft 2007)
There is a little comfort in the atmosphere as the narrator feels that the old man is humorous in his approach.
THE NARRATOR (MONOLOGUE)
I was startled. Initially I felt certain hesitancy in speaking of the book, but the curiosity overmastered all the vague fears which had steadily accumulated since my first glimpse at the house. But the man seemed very jolly and it made me comfortable. My curiosity was the book which was otherwise, very rare to find. (Lovecraft 2007)
Now the narrator is somewhat comfortable and relaxed an dares to ask about the book
NARRATOR TO THE OLD MAN:
How you came by so rare book as the Regnum Congo? I mean it's so rare.
The man (Smiles and then gazes at the narrator very sharply)
THE OLD MAN:
Oh, Thet Afriky book? Cap'n Ebenezer Holt traded me thet in 'sixty-eight – him as was kilt in the war.
The narrator suddenly looks at the old man. He was excited in his mind. (Lovecraft 2007)
I had encountered the name of Cap'n Ebenezer in my genealogical work, but not in record since the Revolution, almost two hundred years ago. I was labouring to find out the record, and I wondered that the man could help me in this task. But still it was not a good idea to say something about it. (Lovecraft 2007)
THE OLD MAN:
Ebenezer was on a Salem merchantman for years, an' picked up a single o'queer stuff in every port. He got this in London, I guess – he uster like ter buy things at the shop. I was up to his house onct, on the hill, tradin' hosses, when I see this book. I relished the picters, so he give it in on a swap.
He starts turning over the pages. (Lovecraft 2007)
THE OLD MAN
'Tis a queer book – here, leave me git on my spectacles(Lovecraft 2007)
The Narrator (Monologue)
The man produced his dirty and amazingly antique glasses with small octagonal lenses and steel bows. Donning this, he again looks at the volume on the table. (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator feels something eerie and he tries to stand up to escape himself from the old man.
I stood up and started going towards the door. I was feeling something unpleasant. I felt his proximity obnoxious, and horrified. I tried to stand up and he forcefully pushed me down. As if there was a command in his action and I had to accept his command. (Lovecraft 2007)
There is a thundering sound from outside. The atmosphere is getting darker and darker with the clouds and heavy rains and also by the mystery of the house and the man.
THE OLD MAN
Ebenezer cud read a leetle o'this (pause) 'Tis a Latin – but i can't. I hed two er three schoolmasters read me a bit, (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator comes to know that the old man could not read Latin.
It was difficult to escape from him without offending him. But I was amused at the childish fondness. He was interested in pictures like a child. but he was certainly not childish or nor was he an innocent creature. (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator has continued the above narrating while the man is telling him about the pictures. The audience can only see the restlessness of the narrator.
The narrator's monologue is interrupted by the thundering voice
The Old Man
(In a trifle thicker voice and a strange and frightful glow in his eyes) Now I'II shew ye the best un – over here nigh the middle. (Lovecraft 2007)
There is a thickness in the old man's speech. His eyes are brighter. His fumbling hands were entirely adequate to their mission.
The narrator again stands up to move and escape but the firm hand of the man forced him to sit and look at the horrible picture.
THE OLD MAN
That feller bein chopped up, gives me a tickle. (The expression in his eyes has changed and they are like a killer.) Everytime when I look at him. (more fierce eyes) I got to keep on lookin at 'im (Lovecraft 2007)
The camera is on the picture of a butcher. The butcher is cutting human into different parts.
THE OLD MAN
There is a sudden thunder crashes.
The narrator is horrified.
(Looking fiercely at him) Hey. Sit still, what's ailing ya?
As I says, 'tis queer haow picters sets ye thinkin'. D'ye know, young sir, I'm right sot on this un here. (Pause) Arter I got the book off Eb I uster look at it a lot, especially when I heerd Passon Clark rant o'Sundays in his big wig. Once I tried suthin' funny – here young sir. Don't git skeert – all I done was ter look at the picter afore I kilt the sheep for market – killin' sheep was kinder more fun arter lookin' at it -” (Lovecraft 2007)
The man is now speaking in a very low tone, sometime so low that it is not audible.
There is a sound of heavy rain. The windows are rattling. The thunder is disturbing the atmosphere creating more eerie in it.
The narrator stands up. Now the intension of the man is quite clear. He is a cannibal. He wants to take the life of the narrator for his flesh.
THE OLD MAN
(Perversely) Killin' sheep was kinder more fun – but d'ye know 'twan't quite satisfyin. (Looking up) As you love the Almighty, young man, don't tell nobody. But I swar ter Gawd thet picter begun te make me hungry fer victuals. I couldn't raise nor buy – here, set still (Lovecraft 2007)
The narrator is moving back to save his life. The man is hungry for his flesh.
THE OLD MAN
Set still, what's ailin' ye? I didn't do nothing'. only I wondered haow ’twud be ef I did— They say meat makes blood an’ flesh, an’ gives ye new life, so I wondered ef ’twudn’t make a man live longer an’ longer ef ’twas more the same—(Lovecraft 2007)
The open book is there lay flat upward between the narrator and the man. The old man sees upward. His face was repulsive and perverse. Something starts dropping from upward on the picture.
THE NARRATOR Monologue
I first felt that it might be leakage from up because of rain. But when i saw the red colour drop, I realized that it was not raindrops as they cannot be red in colour. (Lovecraft 2007)
Now the narrator stands quickly. The picture is clear now. He is cannibal. He is hungry for the flesh and blood of the narrator.
His face has become cruel, abhorrent and perverse. His voice is whispering now. The huskiness of his voice is more terrible than his scream. The narrator is sweating with fear. He just tries to rush to the door.
The thundering and raining is still going on.
The man also stands up. The narrator started going behind to save his life. There is a knife of butcher the man has hidden in his hand and the hand is kept behind. The man is coming towards the narrator. He is now so violent.
There is a loud scream. The scream is absorbed in the fierce sound.
There is a melancholy peace and the screen is blank, letting the audience to take carry the experience of horror for another few seconds.
Lovecraft, Howard P. The Picture in the House. N.p.: Best Classic Books, 2007.