Originally published at Fangoria.com on Sepetember 16, 2009
CTHULHU UNBOUND VOLUME 2, edited by John Sunseri and Thomas Brannan, continues to inspire thrills from its nightmarish monstrosities with each short tale. Fifteen writers are again asked to create a world dominated by devilish creatures, the likes which author H.P. Lovecraft could only have imagined.
In the first volume, the breakneck pace came to a sudden halt by the numerous references to H.P. Lovecraft’s mythology. As a reader, I would sometimes have to stop and look up these citations to understand the story better. In this volume though, the writers concentrated less on them and more on elevating the suspense and atmosphere; which were the two elements Lovecraft concentrated on in his works. The best usage of the two is in “New Fish” by A. Kiwi Courters. A new inmate arrives at an isolated prison island. The other prisoners soon discover he is performing satanic rituals to conjure up a bloodthirsty demon. In a prison filled with savage murderers and rapists, who really is in danger, them or the monster?
Few of the authors have found a creative way to mix in social commentary. Sheila Crosby depicts a light-hearted immigrant story about a creature named Schlorp Shaggoth entitled, “What’s A Few Tentacles Between Friends?” Schlorp just wants to return home to see his family but doesn’t have any money. He works many odd jobs and ends up stressed out inside an office cubicle. Brandon Alspaugh’s “Sleeping Monsters Future” has a darker tone with its social message. A paleontologist has been hired by a corporation to reawaken the uncontrollable beast, Cthulhu. If the corporation creates their planned catastrophe, their stock prices increase. They need to create a successful disaster in order to make millions.
Just like in the first volume, I really enjoyed how comedy is placed in a Lovecraftian tale. The most entertaining story in the second volume is “Santiago Contra El Culto De Cthulu,” by Mark Zirbel. Zirbel pays playful homage to the 1960s wrestling/horror films starring El Santo and Blue Demon. In his narrative, an all-star Mexican wrestler named Santiago must do battle in a match against the unstoppable Cthulhu to save his kidnapped girlfriend.
The first anthology had a major shortcoming with making obscure references to Lovecraft’s works. But with this anthology, the approach focused on drawing attention towards his books. For this reason, I found the second collection to be more entertaining than its predecessor.
CTHULHU UNBOUND VOLUME 2 covers a wide range of morbid episodes into the supernatural. Follow a team of astronauts as they discover an ancient tomb underneath a dead moon. Witness as a private eye succumbs to lunacy while investigating a missing person’s case. Take a terrifying and chilling trip with each character through 15 stories into the dark domains of H.P. Lovecraft’s mind.
CTHULHU UNBOUND VOLUME 2 can be purchased through Permutated Press at www.permutatedpress.com/