“The Cabin in the Woods” — Richard Laymon (2002)
I was never much for H.P. Lovecraft’s actual stories, though I certainly appreciated his literary and pulp cultural importance. What he inspired though, through generations of writers and filmmakers, artists and game designers, is unquestionably entertaining, and often scary as hell — when it isn’t super cuddly.
Such was “The Children of Cthulhu,” a book that literally fell into my lap one day at work (after an editor tossed it there) and was quickly devoured over the next few nights. A collection of short stories inspired by Lovecraft’s mythos, it’s a killer read, especially “The Cabin in the Woods” by Richard Laymon, which is full of Lovecraftian dread and unexplained horror. (While it had nothing to do with recent movie of the same name, its monsters would have fit right in with Joss Whedon’s send-up of the horror genre.)
In an homage to Lovecraft, Laymon crafts a story set in the 1920s, as a young married couple and a brother-in-law who fancies himself cut in the manly Hemingway mold head off to a remote hunting cabin with a mysterious pedigree — and several headless bodies. Needless to say, their weekend doesn’t go as planned.
Tragically, Richard Laymon actually died shortly before this collection came out, marking “Cabin” as one of the last things he wrote.