Week1-2 Horror

Q: What is the philosophy of cosmicism and how is it used to convey a sense of dread in both The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Void?

The philosophy of cosmicism is based on the idea of illusion and imagination of human and the literary philosophy developed by writer H.P Lovecraft. Basically it is a belief that humans are insignificant in the cosmic the universe, this has no god in cosmic.

The way that cosmic horror convey a sense of dread 

“A certain atmosphere of breathless and explainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain–a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.” (H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature, 1927)

I think the way that cosmic horror convey a sense of dread such as the unknown things like a ghost, evil, monster, alien that those things the sciencelogic evidence cannot prove that they were real. The way that writer describe the appearance of the unknown character that abnormality, the way they move, or attacking to people. The unknown thing could be the imagination world or place that the writer built it up, that can make people cannot know what it going to happen next. Also a culminate plot that people did not expect. The writer might give the reader some hint for finding out the end, but the plot was twist at the end too, expose a secret.

“Where does madness leave off and reality begin?” 
― H.P. Lovecraft, The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1939).

The way that cosmic horror convey a sense of dread of The Shadow Over Innsmouth has a culminate plot and unknown thing like a monster. This cosmic has the half fish half human at the main monster. Lovecraft gave people some hint that the main character felt something wrong at the imagination town as Innsmouth. The main character have to expose the secret, then he found that everyone in this town are the monster. After that the reader did not expect but then the main character also be half fish half human. The culminate plot is the way The Shadow Over Innsmouth convey a sense of dread.

The way that cosmic horror convey a sense of dread of The Void also has a  culminate plot many time… they also unknown monster and the biggest main dread should be the belief and science. The plot make all characters come to hospital for healing…Here is the simple setting place as Staci(2016) mention that the most innocuous settings can become frightening with the right treatment. Then they have to hiding there cause unknown people dress up like a priest to kill random(?) people and use the geometry to make people know that that was not the normal religion. The first twist plot was the doctor was killed then the he was the instigator. In my opinion, I really like the way they make this movie so scary but using the atmosphere sound, make that situation distrust. When I first watched this movie, I was expect of jump scare scene. Because the background music/ atmosphere sound built the audience to close their eye and though something scary might come up soon. 

Overall, the plot of cosmic is very important. The way that the writer telling the story to illustrate the imagination world and how they make people still want to read next chapter and want to know the end. The way that the audience/reader know nothing at the beginning and the story give a hint until the secret had solved.


Lovecraft, H.P. (1939). The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Lovecraft, H.P. (1927). Supernatural Horror in Literature.

Troilo, Staci. (2016). The Four Elements of a Horror Story. https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/four-elements-horror/

Week 2 Blog Post

Stableford (2007) details the historical formation of Cosmic Horror prior to Lovecraft. Describe in brief this formation and how it affected the Lovecraftian School of Cosmic Horror which would soon become the gold standard. Can you see any of these historical movements having an influence in The Shadow Over Innsmouth or The Void?

Prior to Lovecraft, the cosmic horror sub-genre lived with Charles Baudelaire, a French poet. In 1857, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s gothic writings, Baudelaire released Les Fleurs Du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) (Cardin, 2017). This collection of 132 poems had a large hand in shaping cosmic horror. It was in this collection that Baudelaire coined himself as a “decadent”, thus beginning the French Decadent movement (Calinescu, 1987). The Decadent movement inspired followers all across the world, but the American bohemian Clark Ashton Smith, was a very dedicated follower of Baudelaire. It is said that it was Smith, 

“whose correspondence with H.P. Lovecraft assisted Lovecraft to move on from the relatively crude conception of “cosmic fear” contained in his essay to a more elaborate and full-fledged notion of cosmic horror,” (Joshi, 2006, p.81).

Clark Ashton Smith believed that if humans gained all the infinite knowledge they were seeking, that they would eventually be overwhelmed by horror in the end (Joshi, 2006). This is a similar theory that Lovecraft also holds in his own work: “Lovecraftian fiction is, in essence, a kind of fiction in which horror arises from knowledge that is too much to bear,” (Stableford, 2007, p.66). This concept is also seen very prominently in The Void, where Dr. Powell is seen defying death and nature with his newfound knowledge, which creates the Lovecraftian horrors and eventually becomes too overwhelming. It seems that the ideas explored originally by Baudelaire, have been passed down and adapted by his followers, and eventually found Lovecraft, who transformed them into what we consider the “gold standard” for cosmic horror.

Reference List:

Calinescu, M. (1987). Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism. North Carolina, US: Duke University Press.

Cardin, M. (2017). Horror Literature Through History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Joshi, S. T.,  (2006). Icons of horror and the supernatural: An encyclopedia of our worst nightmares. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Stableford, B. (2007). Cosmic horror. In S. T. Joshi (Ed.), Icons of horror and the supernatural: An encyclopedia of our worst nightmares. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Body horror and the fear of unknown

Reyes (2014), describes Body Horror as being a “fictional representation of the body exceeding itself or falling apart, either opening up or being altered past the point where it would be recognised by normative understandings of human corporeality.” How do The Void and Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth make use of this definition to explore themes of the unknown? 

The connection between body and unknown is that human body is evaluated as experimental resource for exploring the meaning of new life (hybrids) and this new form of life is beyond the moral boundaries and human knowledge, which is technically unknown to the mankind. Reyes (2014) identified that “body horror stages a celebration of corporeal instability, mutability or capacity for transformation unashamedly.” Both the movie and novel had successfully aimed to scare viewers by body horror and unknown features. Marginalized people practiced human sacrifices in order to fulfill their own purpose and seek protection from unknown power. Body horror is demonstration of the fear of unknown. (                                          

Body has centralised the horror that embodied the limitation of human through process of mutilation, transformation and corporal transgression. Its horror evades the boundaries of between one single race and others that also means assimilate human and alien creatures that adopted in Lovercratian horror. Human body such as skeleton, viscera, artery, cells and nervous system, in our knowledge, we acknowledge they are well-designed. But body horror has overthrown the concept of body-for-single race in order to achieve distortion, smash, fission, transformation such as genetic modification and primitively exploitation of female womb as alien possession. In the Void, Allison and Maggie had transformed into the carrier of alien species whilst part of their human body and consciousness were still exist and active. Beverly had turned into non-human creature after her human body was shot to dead. The movie has featured the combination of two living species into one body, which applied in the body genre. The novel has depicted the hybrids featured with “a narrow head, bulging, watery–blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularly undeveloped ears.” H.P Lovecraft and the movie makers were like to Cronenberg who embraced the process of biological change in order to “questioning the human as a fixed category” (Reyes, 2014). It seems metamorphic yet it’s a celebration of new life.         

Director was fascinated on unknowable horror and they visualise the imagination of the body horror through practical effect, cinematography and intense sound effect. Audience could only see the abnormal movement of Allison’s belly without the physical appearance of the tentacle baby. This scene of body horror built up the fear of unknown in her belly and a procedure for Daniel to unveil it afterwards. However, the procedure of operations was not depicted by filmmakers. Thus, it left audience a space to imagine. In an interview, writer/director Gillespie (2017) suggested that “so much of it in something like (H.P.) Lovecraft, Prince of Darkness or whatever, it’s so ambiguous when you’re doing it through a visual medium, I think you have to leave things open, to kind of communicate that same feeling.” In rhetoric, it’s more noticeable in Lovecraft’s novel as he used first person perspective to lead the readers follow the narrator whom he witnessed and explored the Deep-Ones and their hybrid with human in Innsmouth. It was glimpsed in the beginning as the narrator was motivated by the secrets of Innsmouth and search of his family tree. His family ancestor’s identity was revealed in the final chapter. Both media reflect visual and psychological anxiety by manipulation of flesh and blood.          

Ignorance protects human from fatal reality and infusion of exterior life. Body horror and perpetuate fear of unknown are the consequence people who violate their roles. These uncanny, blood-curdling, haunting atmosphere created anxiety and developed dissolving detriment. Eric Henderson state that “Lovecraft made a world where humans are alone, floating on a rock a terrifying larger universe that we cannot possibly comprehended because our time in it has been so short and we are so insignificant compare to the horrors from the Cthulhu mythos.”

Reference: Aldana, Reyes,, Xavier. Body Gothic : Corporeal Transgression in Contemporary Literature and Horror Film, University of Wales Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/aut/detail.action?docID=1728046. Philip Rogers. (2017). Interview: Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski – Writers/Directors of The Void (2016).

Sophie Tse


What is cosmicism? That can be summed very well with the following quote.

Cosmicism is the belief that the universe is cold and indifferent to humanity. While it feels no malice towards us, it doesn’t care if we are wiped from existence in an instant. Which in some ways is more terrifying, the feeling that you’re not even important enough for something to make a point of wiping you from existence.

There is an inherent fear to meaninglessness and the feeling that nothing you do truly matters. I think this is why we once believed in such things as egocentrism. Not only was there no reason not to in ancient pre-scientific times, but also a desire for a feeling of importance. Cosmicism spits in the face of that desire to feel important.

It is in play in both The Void and The Shadow over Innsmouth use this idea, to, in my opinion, varying effect.

In The Shadow of Innsmouth, the case of cosmicism is, in my opinion, rather atypical. Instead of being all about one’s feeling of unimportance when laying eyes on interdimensional space gods that can consume the entire sol system in an instant, The Shadow over Innsmouth seems more concerned with the unimportance of one’s personal ideology and identity. Our protagonist is by the end of the story confronted with the fact that the exact monsters he had been in fear off from the start of the story had, in fact, birthed him. Learning that he was no in fact fully human as he had thought, but in fact a hybrid, not quite monster, not quite man. This tears apart his entire sense of self and place in the world. Eventually sending him on a downward spiral leading to him joining his fellows in the ocean. (Lovecraft, 1936)
The Void, on the other hand, is a bit more standard in its version of cosmicism. Instead, deals, albeit indirectly, with beings beyond death and beyond human comprehension, able to cause resurrections, albeit warped ones and are not even shown. This is likely for the best, as the fear of cosmicism is often in that which is beyond your comprehension and what you can depict on film you can comprehend. Unfortunately, it’s a bit harder to get a feel for these forces, in as much as one can, as they aren’t really brought up until the end of the film and even then, are barely spoken of, merely offhandedly mentioned. However, it appears that they are able to control life and death at their whims and wish to see humanity converted into something more horrifying to us, but likely more to their taste. Eventually, our main hero and main villain end up in their realm. They stand in the shadow of a vast pyramid in a land of rocks and thunder and we are left to decide for ourselves as to their fate. But it is clear they have no power here, wherever here is (Gillespie & Kostanski, 20160.

Death it seems is imminent. But isn’t it always? Sure the universe doesn’t care, but that’s why you should.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1936). The shadow over Innsmouth. Visionary Publishing Company.

Gillespie, J., & Kostanski, S. (Directors). (2016). The void [Motion picture]. Cave Painting Pictures.

Week 2- Lovecraft Horror

Question 2: what is the philosophy of cosmicism and how is it used to convey a sense of dread in both The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Void?


   “cosmicism” is a literary philosophy word developed by the American writer HP Lovecraft, which is based on the idea that humanism is an illusion. It’s in the vast sweep of time and space, human beings are nothing. The definition doesn’t mean that necessarily hostile, although it might seem that way. At least when I was watching The Void, I feel like some of the images that show on the screen is disgusting and vomitive. Actually, If the film or fiction plot strikes you as terrifying, that’s just what Lovecraft was after. And that’s his genius. He didn’t write any sort of supernatural horror, but he thought the cosmos as it is described by science is scary enough.

  Personally, “cosmicism” is quite abstract, but I can see that there are some plots containing the meaning of it in The Void. The story happens in a town, we followed the cop-Daniel, as they are besieged by murderous cult members, humanoid monsters with hideously deformed bodies. The monsters kill and transform anyone against them and human survivors have to kill face-less killers- the cultists wear white sheets with a black triangle at the centre of them. When the cultists suddenly appear in the dark outside, It was very scary and following more and more cultists appear, the sense of dread is more strong. The actual world isn’t described in all that much detail, which is a bummer, but its dark and dank aura is enough to create a sense of misery. The void uses well-rounded lighting to present sombre emotions and shades of dread. The monsters look authentically terrifying and gross. And are impressive to watch as they move.

  In Lovecraft’s novel “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, he focuses on eyes in particular when describing the strange appearance of the townspeople. The town features lots of boarded-up houses and repurposed churches, which gives the reader a sense of fear and dread. In addition, I feel like the sea is actually the source of horror in the story, because we all know that the sea is always convey a dark, largely unexplored sense, compared to a human, the sea contains much more strange creatures, anything might happen in the sea. This kind of unknown feeling is the most creepy one. 

APA Reference

LOVECRAFT, H. P. (2018). SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH. Place of publication not identified: POSITRONIC Publishing.

Wiley, C. R. (2017, September 28). Lovecraft’s Cosmicism: What it Is, How It Works, and Why It Fails. Retrieved from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/gloryseed/2017/08/lovecrafts-cosmicism-works-fails/

Abrams, S. (2017, April 07). The Void Movie Review & Film Summary (2017): Roger Ebert. Retrieved from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-void-2017

Cooper, S. (2014, December 14). 12 Days of Lovecraft: “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. Retrieved from https://www.tor.com/2009/12/09/12-days-of-lovecraft-the-shadow-over-innsmouth/

Cosmic Horror – Week 1

  1. Reyes (2014), describes Body Horror as being a “fictional representation of the body exceeding itself or falling apart, either opening up or being altered past the point where it would be recognised by normative understandings of human corporeality.” How do The Void and Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth make use of this definition to explore themes of the unknown?


The Shadow Over Innsmouth spends the majority of it’s narrative establishing the otherness of the villagers and the slow, gradual process which transforms them as they age. The twist ending is incredibly effective because it turns what was once an external force into an internal threat that cannot be escaped. Notably the transformation not only disfigures human features but changes them their body to adapt to a completely new way of life dwelling in the sea as well as the land – notably, before space the sea was the void humanity felt compelled to explore, and Lovecraft seems to play on this idea throughout many of his works.

In Umberto Eco’s Five Moral (2002) pieces Eco states that even without a God to act as a basis for morality human beings are able to establish a sense of ethics because they share a common physical make up. Once we recognize these rights of the body (e.g. while there culture that condone slavery and cannibalism no human being would agree that being hung upside down is preferable to being right side up) we can recognize how our behaviour affects others. “The ethical dimension begins when the other appears on the scene” (Eco, 2002, p. 22). It is this principle on which a humanistic worldview is built.

However, Lovecraft confronts the reader with the idea of the Deep Ones not only as an alien entity (differentiating them from other creatures in his oeuvre such as Cthulu or the Shoggoths) but also a corruption of our human biology. As “an atheist and materialist who saw in science the ultimate arbiter of truth” (Joshi, 2007, p. 99) it is obvious to him that a physical change is accompanied by a psychological one. For further emphasis, the final sentence of the story twists the 23rd Psalm’s final of “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” into “in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever”. Religion is an essentially human invention, but for the narrator it has been twisted past the point of recognition.


The Void is also concerned with challenging the concept of humanity, although in a different way. The antagonist Dr. Richard Powell aims to transcend humanity and conquer death through resurrection. Since he experiments with himself he embodies both the mad scientist archetype and the monsters they create, although it is not a purely utilitarian goal and is in fact motivated by the loss of his daughter. Even before physically transforming he had been committing brutal ritualistic murders and had abandoned conventional human morality a long time ago. His borderline sadomasochistic self-mutilation is reminiscent of the Cenobites of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1987), extra-dimensional beings from hell who pursue and grant extreme pain to humans who summon them in search of pleasure – not as punishment but because to them pain and pleasure are the same thing. Similarly, Powell’s physical transformation completes his psychological transformation, embracing an alien sense of values. While Carter’s wife Allison begs not to be transformed Powell sees this as liberating her from death.

The story carries the implication that conquering death would mean abandoning humanity as well. As Reyes states creatures such as zombie and the undead are frightening because they challenge “notions of what constitutes human life” (2007, p. 65). Those who are resurrected did not do so willingly and are hideuously deformed, and the only undead showing intelligence is Dr. Powell himself who was fully aware of what he was doing.


What is the philosophy of cosmicism and how is it used to convey a sense of dread in both The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Void?

Cosmicism is the philosophy that there are no divine powers in the universe and human beings are insignificant, leaving them at the mercy of incomprehensible entities who are largely indifferent to their existence. Cosmic horror stories confront human beings with this knowledge, and while characters may try to bargain with, appease or understand these entities or phenomena they ultimately have little agency or capacity to change their own situations. Stories in this mould can often be differentiated from conventional science fiction and fantasy because it does not try to humanize space but instead emphasizes it’s indifference and strangeness  (Stableford 2007).

Much of this is a result of the time period Lovecraft wrote in. While he had learned much of science and by reading books from the 19th Century many of those theories and concepts were overturned, and while science had made great progress these revelations brought new questions with them that made the future even more uncertain as it became clear there was more to the universe than humanity could observe at first glance, and it was unknown how much ever could be grasped. (Joshi, 2007).

Forbidden knowledge is a recurring theme in Lovecraft’s work, most famously in the form of books containing spells and incantations (Stableford, 207), but In The Shadow Over Innsmouth it is a much more innocent curiosity concerning the narrator’s own ancestry which is punished (although it is arguable that by discovering the truth he at least has the chance to shoot himself before changing). Because the Deep Ones are able to breed with humanity and are to some extent human-looking the most terrifying implication of this is that the unknown can come from within a person.


In contrast, The Void is arguably not a cosmic horror story, at least not in the purist sense, despite sharing many of the hallmarks of it. Not only do the characters physically resist the otherworldly creatures quite readily (and it is easy enough to imagine this conflict being resolved much more one-sided if the protagonist’s simply had a few more guns or people fighting on their side) but Deputy Daniel is implied to be alive in spirit if not in body, and reunited with his dead wife in some capacity, and even in self-sacrifice has saved the world. Two characters are shown celebrating their survival, and the tone of the ending is hopeful and bittersweet. While it is true there have been bittersweet endings in Lovecraft’s works where human characters were able to hold back the tide, such “The Dunwich Horror” (Joshi, 2007), no implication is made that the Lovecraftian entity intends to keep trying to return and the whereabouts of the cult go unexplained despite the fact they could easily provide this hint of doubt. Humanity has won.


Reference List

Barker, C. (Director). (1987). Hellraiser [Motion picture]. United Kingdom: Film Futures

Eco, U. (2002). Five Moral Pieces. London, United Kingdom: Random House

Joshi, S.T. (2007). Icons of horror and the supernatural [2 volumes]: An encyclopedia of our worst nightmares. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Icons-Horror-Supernatural-volumes-Encyclopedia/dp/0313337802

Joshi, S.T. (2007). The Cthulhu mythos. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4906539-dt-content-rid-10035612_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Cthulhu%20Mythos%20Article%20final.pdf

Reyes, A. X. (2014). Body gothic: Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Stableford, B. (2007). The cosmic horror. Retrieved from  https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4906539-dt-content-rid-10035611_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Cosmic%20Horror%20Article%20final.pdf


Dominic McAlpine

Week 1-2 Question two

What is the philosophy of cosmicism and how is it used to convey a sense of dread in both The Shadow Over Innsmouthand The Void?

The philosophy of cosmicism is that it does not have a god in cosmic, and the power of the human is insignificant in cosmic. Human is ignorant of many things in the universe. Cosmic is too big and unlimited. As a result, human fear of cosmic, especially for those things which are unknown in the universe. According to Nguyen (2016), there is no recognizable god in cosmic; the effect of human in the universe is not essential. Peak (2014) claims that it is difficult for a human being to understand a big world. Furthermore, human feel fears when they face an unknown cosmic.

The way I think cosmic horror is when people see or face a situation which they do not know, people will be afraid. On other words say is, when human face a circumstance that is beyond what human’s thinking, people are fearful. Because as Lovecraft says, it has differences between physical horror and cosmic horror. Generally speaking, people feel fear about the things that are beyond their fundamental understanding of the world (Stableford, 2007).

Because I extremely fear the ghost things and something unknown. I assume there are many things that human does not know in cosmic. When I face something that beyond my original thinking, even when human scientific knowledge fails to explain phenomena, I might be frightened and worried.

There were five plots in total that make me frightened when I read The Shadow Over Innsmouth and watched The void. The first one is fish-like human. As I never see a fish-like human in my daily life, this kind of creature is beyond my conventional thinking. The second plot is no matter males and females have to breed with the fish-like human. When I read this plot, I felt fear and a little disgusting. As I perceive human is different from fish-like human. Unbelievably, two different creatures breed with each other. This phenomenon is over human’s imagination.

The third plot is that the Beaverly-creature appears in the ward of the prisoner. I saw a black tentacle behind the bed at that time. It is impossible that there are some unknown creatures in ordinary life. The fourth plot is Dr. Powell put something into the nurse’s stomach, and later, a monster appears. When I saw this behavior, I felt horror and disgusting. From my common sense, dead people can not come back to life. It is impossible for people who are dead for a long time and then go into an alive person’s body. The last plot that makes me afraid is that the doctor comes back to life and become evil. In my impression, people can not back to life and transform into another creature. Even create a world which is older than god. Because this circumstance against the rule of nature. It can not accomplish at all.

All these plots make me frightened might be attributed to the horror from the cosmic. As all these plots, what I see is related to the unknown creature. A human cannot explain what phenomena it is and predict its hazardous. Therefore, when human face these strange creatures or events, people will fear and feel disgusting.  


Nyugen, T. (2016). History of Humans. Is There a God? 3

Peak, D. (2014). The Spectacle of the Void. U.S.A.: Schism Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-1503007161

Stableford, B. (2007). Cosmic Horror.