Post Comment 27 comments on “Episode 68 – The Dunwich Horror – Part 4

  • Steve on


  • Odilius Vlak on

    It was a dark rapture to walk the sacred paht of this horror from Dunwich to my soul.
    ¡great ritual guys!

    ¡Ah Yog-Sothoth… Mein Führer!

  • k0 on

    Another great analysis concluded. But I’m surprised that you didn’t raise the possibility that Yog-Sothoth is not actually one of the “Old Ones” that want to retake the earth, but another being that – under the right circumstances – can let them cross whatever dimensional divide holds them out? It would explain why something “coterminous with all space and time” didn’t simply wipe mankind out tomorrow, if that were what it wanted. And why Joseph Curwen, despite all his Yog-Sothothery, was looking for his heir and not its.

  • Eric Lofgren on

    Awesome ending to this one. While Wilbur was certainly a horrific sight to behold, he pales in comparison to his twin. Absolute mind bending and inspirational fodder for artists :)I’ve actually been doing a lot of artwork based on HPL’s work lately and in no small part this podcast has been a real help for me towards that. If anyone’s interested you can find the work here- I’d love to know what you folks think of it. I plan to do a rendering of the Whately twins very soon.

    At any rate, it was sad to see this one come to an end. It is such a seminal Lovecraft work, but hearing that Mountains is getting closer I definitely have something to look forward to. I absolutely love your podcast guys!!


  • Justin on

    Great conclusion to a great story! The New Yorker recently did a massive 13-page long interview with Guillermo del Toro which included going to the studio where he is working on “At the Mountains of Madness” and watching him give art direction to the guys designing the Elder Things and the Shoggoths and Cthulhu…that’s right apparently Cthulhu will make an appearance! I really hope del Toro gets to make this movie but it will undoubtedly be a challenge to convince any major studio to invest “Avatar”-level money in a philosophical horror movie set in the 1920s about a bunch of guys who run into weird alien monsters in Antarctica all based on a story written by a relatively obscure pulp-fiction author. However, all we fans can do is hope and pray to The Great Old Ones and who knows…. maybe Yog-Sothoth will step up and fiance the movie with some pirate doubloons!

  • Michael Bryan Walt on

    Another great pod cast! I agree with you gentlemen on the idea that “The Dunwich Horror” inspired the role playing game. Every time I read the story, I have this insane (pun not intended) urge to play the thrice damned (I mean that in a good way) game. Wait! Listening to the pod cast — Damn — failing my — sanity check — must be strong!! AHHRRGGG!! Whew, sorry about that. At the last moment I realized that I don’t have anyone around to play the game with anymore. Such a sobering thought brought me back from the brink. Damn you Chosium Games!! Now, back to the pod cast. Agreement on all of your thoughts except one; the end of the story/explanations that H.P. wrote. I’ve never had a problem with the end and its B Movie like wrap up. But, I’m a huge B Movie fan, so that’s why the ending never bothered me. I think Lovecraft did a fine job. And, I have a great respect for S.T. Joshi, but I think he’s off in his opinion of the story. H.P. could write a good ol’ fashion ripping yarn of “Good vs./triumphs over Evil” story as well as any other author. I know his “the Old One’s will kick our respected backsides one day” tales are more abundant with his writings, but even some of those have heroes that succeed… at not getting eaten… oh, never mind. And finally (I bet that you thought I’d never get there), I have some thoughts on Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming film version of “At the Mountains of Madness”, but due to the length of this friggin’ novel/post I’m typing, I’ll save that for when you guys do the pod cast of the story. Again, thank you for the wonderful pod cast.

  • JBL on

    Great job, guys. Excellent. And, if anyone cares, here’s my own version of what Curtis Whateley got an eyeful of, done while I was learning the ins and outs of the graphic tablet. Some day I’ll do another. Till then,

  • Mark Tauber on

    Good analysis. I do take the point of kO above. I always thought of Yog as the seething vortex of malice that conducts the truly evil things through the portal to feast on humans like value days at KFC. I have to admit I never quite reasoned out what would motivate some humans to invite back monsters so long after they had been stuffed into their non-Euclidean cage. Wouldn’t they all be gobbled up too?

  • Marcus Good on

    Now we’ve had the conclusion, I can raise a notion that occurred to me prior;

    what if this Whatley was the “good twin”? I mean, in many ways, its a pitiable entity. The only family it knew are dead, it’s lost and alone, probably with little grip on reality or an understanding of the world around it. I wonder to what degree it was “educated”; we know Wilbur was, but maybe he was the “key”, and this twin was the “door”?

  • […] Our final episode on The Dunwich Horror! Sad to put this behind us, but we must move on. Thanks again to Andrew Leman, our reader, and Robert M. Price for his help on the story. (available now as a radio drama) Next week: The Electric Executioner! – The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast […]

  • Matt Sheridan on

    Great stuff as always, guys. “The Dunwich Horror” has always been an especialyl great story, and it totally deserved the four-part treatment you gave it (and so much great reading by Andrew Leman!).

    Personally, I thought the whippoorwills died because they caught a meal that turned out to be poisonous to them. Or simply too large, perhaps.

    I’ve got high hopes for Del Toro’s “At the Mountains of Madness”, because he’s good at exactly the kind huge spectacle that make that sotry awesome. And I think those elements will make it possible to categorize the movie as “not just horror”, so maybe getting it funded won’t be so difficult. I mean, you look at it the right way, and it is pretty much a sci-fi adventure story, really.

    Anyway, here’s hoping.

  • sgdurango on

    I love that this podcast wrapped up right around the twins 98th birthday!

  • Ken on

    Thank you, gentlemen, for a most satisfying conclusion in your analysis of one of my favorite stories!

    Regarding the whippoorwills: They never were allies of the Whateleys; they tried and failed to cull Wizard Whateley’s soul, may have made away with that of his daughter, and later tried for Wilbur’s. When they died en masse after the death of Wilbur’s brother, I assumed that they finally, definitively got a Whateley soul…and subsequently choked on it.

  • Phil on

    I read the Dunwich Horror only about a year ago and I do remember being surprised about Wilbur and the Horror being twins. It’s a great story with a great ending – if not just for the chanting academics!

    And thanks to the glimmer of hope regarding the movie ATMOM – I just watched Guillermo Del Toro’s movie “Hellboy” for the first time… how much more Lovecraftian can you get?!

    Anyway, thanks & “mad” props to Chris, Chad, Andrew Leman, Robert Price and, of course HPL!

  • David on

    Thank you for the very enjoyable 4 parts of The Dunwich Horror. It’s a joy to read the stories you tackle before the podcast comes out, meaning I get to delve again into all the old Lovecraft goodness I haven’t visited in years.
    What I especially like about The Dunwich Horror
    is the feeling that when men have won a battle and can count a victory in their struggle for cosmic survival it is a solitary one. The enemy isn’t even really aware that there has been a conflict let alone a war against them, so insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.
    Thanks again.

  • Chadd on

    Great stuff! This is the first of your podcasts I’ve listened to (the whole Dunwich Horror discussion, I mean), and it was awfully fun. One note, though. Party lines were basically a shortcut to extend phone service to more households without much work. They weren’t intended to be a network — it was a cheat. Eventually, everyone got their own punchdown panel, enabling them to make and receive their own calls. The party line is basically like having extra phones in one house. You’re not supposed to listen in on each other’s calls, but you can. Each person on the party line is supposed to have a own unique ring (the operator has a list of these), and you’re not supposed to pick up unless you hear your own ring. You’re not supposed to listen in when someone else is making call, either (though, obviously, nothing could stop you from doing so).

  • Jenova Carter on

    Great job on a even more great story! Too bad it had to end so soon. Mr. Leman does such an awesome job reading the stories. He really manages to bring them to life. Once again I am eagerly waiting for this week’s episode. It’s such a joy to read the stories then hear your lively discussion afterward.

  • Nick on

    Haha, “chooga logga mooga logga deeah!”

    My favorite line

  • Fred Kiesche on

    Great analysis and another episode I’d love to see narrated from end to end. I failed my SAN roll so left a donation…

  • M David Cox on

    While I tend to agree with Mr Joshi’s critique of The Dunwich Horror it’s one of my favorite HPL stories. I’ve always thought that HPL had to end the story with a victory of Man over annihilation (I don’t believe HPL was writing in terms of “Good/Evil”). How do you write a story about the extirpation of all life on earth where it actually occurs? There wouldn’t be anyone to tell the tale let alone hear it. Recall how jarring it is when one of HPL’s narrators continues to scribble while being dragged off to an horrible fate.
    Part of my fondness for the story is due to it being the title story of the first HPL book I owned, the Lancer paperback with that wonderful watercolor cover of Wilber, I was corrupted for life.
    As a curiosity, party line phones were still in use in town during the early 60’s.

  • Wilum Pugmire on

    I’ve argued in various places that I disagree with S. T. that this story is one of Lovecraft’s artistic blunders. I do find the ending rather silly, and I often want to protest that it is ineffective; but listening to this brings out the fact that the ending of the tale is beautifully dramatic. I wish they had not had an insecticide canister filled with magick powder so as to reveal the monster — that canister is simply too absurd. Yet the sight of the monster is effective and suggestive, not so much in the description of the beast, but in the fact that it has a face that resembles that of Wizard Whateley. This is so deliciously disturbing, hinting as it does that, like Lot in the cave after the escape from Sodom, Wizard Whateley “knew” his daughter and served as sexual proxy for the dread lord Yog-Sothoth. Honey, that’s HORROR!

  • M David Cox on

    A thought occurred to me that there really isn’t a victory of Man over the Great Old Ones. Recall Wizard Whateley’s warning to Wibur to keep a close rein on the other, to regulate it’s feeding and evidently follow some sort of timetable to ensure achieving the Old One’s goals. Whateley explicitly States, “…fer ef it busts quarters or gits aout afore YE OPENS to Yog-Sothoth, IT’S ALL OVER AN’ NO USE.” (emphasis mine). Wilbur doesn’t open to Yog- Sothoth. Why? Because he’s been killed by the guard dog. Why? Because the gun misfired, the shell was defective. In other words, the earth was saved due to PLAIN DUMB LUCK. Think of it, the universe is just as indifferent & as much of a crap shoot to the Great Old Ones as to Man.

  • Rick Lucey on

    Another great show guys and I finally get the real look at the story after hearing bits of it through the years and seeing somewhat lacking film adaptations. The one in my mind hearing the passages was much cooler.;) I am an illustrator and have created a few Lovecraft inspired creatures in the past. Here is one inspired by bits of his descriptions. It is not based on one creature per say, but I feel it has a touch of the Dunwich Horror in it. Cheers and link…

  • oone on

    The kid’s remark about “smells like thunder” may not exactly be a reference to ozone, but the simple fact that a large eating and excreting organism from a family that’s not known for clenliness,is now wandering the countryside. Not to be too gross, but an old country term for chamber pot (a vessel kept under beds for, erm, waste,in the days before indoor plumbing, was “Thunder Mug” or and “Thunder Bucket”. The kid may have been referring to the fact that the twin smelled like a full one of these, or worse, a tipped over outhouse. If it eats, it excretes – and “by their smell/stench shall ye know them” seems to be a given. Just a thought!
    All in all, an interesting look at an old favorite of mine by HPL.

  • crystal on

    Hi. Not sure if you still read the notes on these archived episodes, but just in case, I wanted to let you know that the embedded player is returning a PHP error. I was able to listen (think goodness!) by downloading the mp3. Also, I recently read The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft as compiled by Cthulhu Chick, and then I started listening to your show from the beginning. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

  • Tim K on

    Re-listening to these 10 years later. Still awesome.
    My only comment that I wish I had made those years ago since I doubt ANYONE will see it now:-) is that I disagree with Joshi on this story not fitting the “Lovecraft philosophy”.

    I think it really does. One most remember that Lovecraft’s cosmos is pitiless and without meaning etc etc… BUT ITS LIKE THAT FOR THE MONSTERS AND GODS AS WELL. They don’t mean anything more to the greater scheme of things than any human. They are so much more powerful and knowledgeable and all that jazz but is cosmic RELEVANCE and MEANING? Human=0.. .but also Cthulu (Or anyone but possibly Azathoth, Nyalathotep and Yog-Sothoth) also = 0.
    So from that it actually ENFORCES the philosophy of a bleak, meaningless and uncaring cosmos by showing that the monsters aren’t any better off than us humans
    shown by the means of the rather sad and pathetic horror that is still such a mindbending destructive force nonetheless and yet… powerless and without hope.
    Which rather improves things in my opinion.

  • Jeremy R. on

    I noticed that Tim K. posted “late” (2021), so I guess I will too. I am sure there are others like me who recently started enjoying the HPL podcast, as well as some who are re-enjoying the podcast a decade after the original posting. So maybe some will read these late postings.
    Like Tim, I strongly disagree with Joshi’s criticism of Dunwich Horror for not fitting the “Lovecraft’s philosophy”. I thing Dunwich is actually one of the best examples of HP Lovecraft’s mythos writing. It’s funny that anyone would criticize Dunwich for having a “happy ending”.
    1) Does anyone wish that Lovecraft had stuck to one ridged plot formula? Do we want every Lovecraft story to end with the hero babbling in a mental hospital, or writing a letter about his impending doom? One of the best thing about Lovecraft was his ability to go beyond the ridged and predictable plots to sometimes create a totally new form of horror. I think the Dunwich “ending” makes this story stand out as unique, while also being totally Lovecraft.

    2) How can anyone really consider this ending to be “happy”. Yes, the world didn’t end. But consider that the vast horrors are still lurking just outside our reality. And while one of these horrors was stopped, those horrors are still trying to get in! In my mind, that is hardly a “happy” ending! By most standards that is a terrifying ending.

    3) Some say this story is not fully “Lovecraftian” because it features “good vs evil”. While some Lovecraft stories do feature nihilistic or immoral protagonist, that does not mean that Lovecraft did not have a sense of “good or evil”. Lovecraft was not a nihilistic person without any human sympathies. He clearly valued many things as “good”, such as his friendships, and his writing mentorships. In his great story “The Color Out Of Space”, Lovecraft maintained a detached manner while skillfully making us identify with the horribly doomed family. Lovecraft could not have made that family so sympathetic without his understanding what humans consider to be “good”. The horror in that story was Lovecraft’s willingness, (as a writer), to destroy that “good” human family. In his best stories, Lovecraft often balanced our human perspective (which sees many things as “good”), with the horror and destruction offered by various monstrosities. In Dunwich, Lovecraft chose to focus more on the “good” intentions of Armitage, but he also makes it clear in that story that “good vs evil” is just a human perspective. The story ends with a world that is still going to be overrun eventually by the outer gods.
    To me, Dunwich is totally consistent with the “Lovecraft philosophy”.

    P.S. While Armitage’s summation at the end of Dunwich may seem like a “corny 1950’s horror movie”, keep in mind that none of those movies existed in Lovecraft lifetime. And I think the summation is valuable. When I first read Dunwich in 1973 (I was 12-13 years old), I did not understand the central point that Armitage was making. A few years later I re-read the story and realized that the horror was “Wilber’s Brother”. I was shocked!
    I don’t think anyone should assume that readers will get the point without the Armitage summation. And that last line is still my HPL favorite… “-it was his twin brother, but it looked more like the father then he did.” Great stuff! Forces you to imagine what the father must have looked like!

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