Episode 10 – The Terrible Old Man

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This week we explore what it’s like to deal with the elderly in The Terrible Old Man.

  • Extra thanks to our reader – Mr. Douglas Sarine of Ask a Ninja!
  • Note: I forgot to mention a cool animation that adapts this story! Check it out! -Chris.

Next week: The Tree & The Cats of Ulthar!

Post Comment 13 comments on “Episode 10 – The Terrible Old Man

  • Danial Carroll on

    I quite liked this story, but one thing always bugged me: How did Czanek see the Terrible Old Man’s eyes from the car, in the “pallid glow of the single dim street-lamp”? They must have been glowing or flaring or something.

    Look forward to Cats of Ulthar next week! It’s one of my faves.

  • Reber Clark on

    Another fine podacst you’ve gotten us into! As I re-read this one I found myself building my own story about the captain and his mates and what dark deal they might have struck to be his protectors forever – trapped in the iron bars (double entendre?) in the bottles! Arrrrr! Also it just occured to me that in sailing terms being “in irons” is to face directly into the wind – dead in the water! oooOOOOooo0000000ooo…

  • J.B. Lee on

    A very nice tale, and one often overlooked in the wake of the later Yog-Sothothery (Cthulhuism? Nyarlathotepy?). I once saw a comic-book version that ended with the Terrible Old Man talking to three NEW bottles; I think that’s a bit unfaithful to the concept of the story, because HPL is Teaching These Guys A Lesson. They don’t GET to live on forever with Terrible and his bottled pirate ghosts.
    And, as we roll along, you will find that very few of Lovecraft’s stories end in italics; the misconception that they do indicates the taint of all those Derleth pastiches and posthumous collaborations you’ve read, like all the rest of us that just couldn’t get enough Cthulhu stuff in the far-off days of our unremembered youth.

  • Sam on

    Another great podcast fellas.

    I don’t know why, but for some reason the names he gave those bottles cracked me up. I mean, “Long Tom” and “Spanish Joe” just sound like such goofy names. He should’ve had some named “Sailor Steve” and “Stinky Pete.”

    Btw, JB Lee, that’s cool to hear about the comic book. On one hand you’re right, I prefer to think that these thieving bastards endured a gruesome supernatural death. On the other, I kind of like the classic, EC Comics-esque, “dun-dun-dun” style ending of having three more bottles suddenly appear in his collection. With an ending like that, this story could totally be adapted as an episode of “The Twilight Zone” or “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Maybe that kinda adaption would work better if he had scores of these bottles, instead of just a few, implying that he’s killed a crapload of people over the past immemorial years.

    That’s the thing I like about these past two stories, is how easily they could be adapted to film, unlike many of Lovecraft’s stories. These two would be really cool to film I think.

  • JulieH on

    I’ve seen the Terrible Old Man made into short films a couple of times (at the HPL Film Festival) fairly successfully.

    Lovecraft had a weird love/hate relationship with Old Sea Captains – the guy who started the whole Innsmouth thing, the one who traded the creepy book to the guy in Picture in the House, etc. Perhaps it’s because they hang out too much with “the wrong kind of folks” so no matter how blue-blooded they start out, they still end up all creepy and tainted…

  • Genus Unknown on

    Y’know, it wasn’t until this podcast that I ever thought of the names he gives the bottles as “pirate names.” They just sound like generic old-timey sailor names, and I always assumed they were just his crew from back in the day.

  • Reber Clark on

    Weren’t “Creepy and Tainted” a comedy team from Dunwich?

  • Lordwhorfin on

    Very late to the party, but Man Bites Dog is a Belgian film.

  • Old Man Parker on

    Keeping ghosts in bottles, in a story about Pirates, was also done later by author Tim Powers in his pirate/fantasy novel “On Stranger Tides”.
    Black beard, as a young man, learns hoodoo magic from an old man who keeps ghosts or voo-doo gods inside glass bottles.
    I hear Disney is doing another “Pirates” movie called “On Stranger Tides”. Let’s wait and see if H. P. Lovecraft’s idea makes it all that way to the silver screen.

  • Quills on

    I listened to this podcast, and Chad and Chris wondered when ski masks were invented. Ski masks go back to at least the Crimean War, when knitted head gear was sent over to British soldiers to protect them from the cold. On a side note, maybe this was the masks that the robbers were wearing….


  • Joyce N.A. on

    i like this tale!
    Fewdio made an adaptation short film of the terrible old man.
    here you go – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iIYzu0MVs8

  • Andy Troy on

    You mentioned April 11th as the day of the planned Terrible Old Heist. It strikes me that that date marked the end of Germanic witchcraft trials–i.e. burnings–in 1775. With HPL’s interest in occult history, could he have used this as a connection to the Old Man’s own witchy ways?

    Keep it up guys! I’m enjoying each installment.


  • Joshua Thomsen on

    Even though it’s short, it’s very powerful.

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