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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2002
"At the Mountains of Madness" is far and away the best of H. P. Lovecraft's tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Once upon a time I would have thought "The Haunter of the Dark" was the best, but I heared Rod Serling explain once that Lovecraft wrote that particular short story as something of a in-joke (the victim is "really" author Robert Bloch; the two were taking turns killing each other off in stories). However, this novella has a scope and intensity that goes beyond any of Lovecraft's short stories.
I have always thought that "At the Mountains of Madness" would make a great film, even though I shudder at what Hollywood would do with its tendency to rely on special effects, the lessons of "The Blair Witch Project," "The Others," and "The Mothman Prophecies" to the contrary. However, I must admit that I notice Lovecraft's story contains elements of two of my all time top-10 science fiction/horror films, "The Thing From Another Planet" and "Five Million Years to Earth" (a.k.a. "Quatermass and the Pit"); think the claustrophobic arctic environment of the former and the discover of eldritch demons from the latter. Here we have an expedition from Miskatonic University that makes a startling discover buried beneath the snow of strange ancient creatures. When the expedition is slaughtered and the creates they found are taken away, a search team makes the grave mistake of following the trail to an immense ruined city.
I am sure I do not have to tell you how big of a mistake this ends up being.
I can remember staying up late at night reading this story, completing captivated and descending into terror step by step along with the doomed protagonists of the story. "The Mountains of Madness" achieves a level of pure terror that I never found in Poe. I am at a total loss to explain why generations of horror readers have to be reintroduced to Lovecraft's writings. But nobody ever promise fair and then you die.
I notice there are three other Lovecraft short stories in this volume. That is certainly nice, but you buy this one for the title story. "At the Mountains of Madness" is not the first Lovecraft story you want to read, because you really need to have a feel for the Cthulhu Mythos before you sit down to enjoy this one. But when you are ready for the ultimate Lovecraft story, there is no doubt this is the one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
At the Mountains of Madness is one of Lovecraft's most singular, lengthy, and important pieces of fiction. Set in the cold wastes of Antarctica, it takes us far afield from the mysterious world of Lovecraft's New England yet in close proximity to the mythical framework of his most noted writings. A cadre of scientists from Miskatonic University travels to the coldest continent in order to pursue important geological work, but their mission is quickly transformed by one team's discovery of an ancient cavity housing hordes of scientific specimens at the base of an undiscovered range of weird, majestic mountains. The most important specimens found in the pit are largely intact bodies of terrifically strange creatures having both animal and vegetable characteristics and sporting immense, bat-like wings. As the first team begins a study of the creatures, the other party members rush to the campsite. However, they find only death, destruction, and mystery there when they arrive. Mysterious caves, peculiar shapes, and other incredible aspects of the adjacent mountains leads the expedition leader to dub them "the mountains of madness." Scientific curiosity impels two of the men to fly over those mountains to see what lies on the other side. What they find is an empty, ancient city, which they set out to explore. Statues and strange hieroglyphics lead the men to conclude that this city was once the most revered spot of the Old Ones mentioned in the Necronomicon and the Pnakotic Manuscripts, a city built long before man's first ancestors walked the earth. As they move deeper within the bowels of the city, they discover that it is not quite deserted after all. The story is a masterful one and provides us with a unique viewpoint concerning the race of ancient beings Lovecraft injected into his horror fiction. It can become tedious at times, but these moments are rare. The sense of mystery and trepidation rises consistently throughout, and the ending more than satisfied this particular reader.
There are three stories included alongside At the Mountains of Madness, all of them interesting but not among Lovecraft's greatest creations. "The Shunned House" is basically a ghost story, albeit one featuring Lovecraftian images, themes, and atmosphere. "The Dreams in the Witch-House" is almost stereotypical to some degree--a young man seeks out a place of mystery and dark history in an attempt to gain cosmic knowledge. In this case, the young man is a mathematics student hoping to combine possible ancient knowledge of curved space and time with his powerful mathematical formulae with some hope of transcending the barriers of earth's three dimensions. As can be expected, he soon finds himself in over his head, experiencing terrible things each night at the hands of a supposedly deceased old witch and her horrible rat-like familiar. This story seemed to have great potential, yet I thought it sort of broke down during the latter half, lacking Lovecraft's usual ending flourish and flair. The final story included here is "The Statement of Randolph Carter," which relates a pivotal experience in the life of Randolph Carter, who would become Lovecraft's master of dreams and seeker of Kadath in the ice-cold wastes.
All of these stories are a basic staple of a Lovecraft diet, and At the Mountains of Madness is compulsory reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 1997
H. P. Lovecraft's "At The Mountains Of Madness" could be the best horror story ever written. For the time period it was written in it is unsurpassed. For originality of the storyline and the sheer terror it inspires it stands next to if not above Stoker's "Dracula", and Stephen King's "The Shining". Lovecraft boldly went where few other writer's dared to follow by creating an entire Universe of unspeakable horrors. The mastery of his chosen craft lies in his ability to hint subliminally at the fears he was writing about, then letting his reader's imagination take over from there. Serious students of the Horror and Supernatural genre who overlook Lovecraft have missed the entire boat. Read and enjoy this book and Lovecraft's other stories but be careful, the fear you find will be in your own mind. Happy Halloween!
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on 18 July 2014
This is the longest of lovecrafts stories and the best example of how his tales build tension, and the atmospheric horror he was famous for. Told in a first person perspective, at the mountains of madness recounts a failed expedition to the vast unexplored lanscapes of Antartica. Shortly after arriving at their campsite, one of the group sets out on a solo trip in one of the planes. He sends word to the rest of the party that he has made several amazing discoveries, discoveries that defy belief. He relays several updates back to an excited camp and informs them of large, apparent fossils which he has managed to make ready for the return flight, but which seem to set the huskies on edge.
Soon after the contact stops, leaving the party no choice but to set out on a rescue mission. As the two man rescue party finally spot the landing site of their missing member and land the plane, they are met with a scene of disturbing signs.
From this point on, Lovecraft builds the terror expertly but never shows the creature or presence that is overshadowing every step the explorers take. The setting of Antarctica is used as one of the characters in this tale to great effect. Lovecraft uses the isolation as a sharpening stone to the growing paranoia of the explorers.
This is a master of atmospheric horror at his best!
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on 31 July 2015
I've long considered Lovecraft to be one of the finest exponents of horror the world of literature has ever seen, and although I sympathise with Michael Moorcock's view that Lovecraft's success is primarily due to the reader filling in the blanks, I never really bought this idea.

Stories such as 'The statement of Randolph Carter,' 'Herbert West: Re-animator,' and 'The Horror of Red Hook,' show Lovecraft's genius for the macabre, and can almost make the reader turn a blind eye to his personal failings: anti-Semitism, racism, his xenophobia...

The world of literature is filled with despicable writers that wrote works of genius.

Unfortunately, The Mountains of Madness, falls far short of Lovecraft's consistently high standards.

Lacking tension, convoluted, and most criminally of all - far too detailed for a horror story. At one point, the text almost collapses under the weight of the detail lavished upon it.

Imagination has always been the key to good horror. The fear of the unknown, the darkness that lurks within. When provided with chapter and verse of the horror at large, the horror becomes familiar, the tension dies, and the story flags.

Suffice to say, this is definitely one of Lovecraft's weaker efforts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2014
Some people criticise Lovecraft for his turgid style, but I think it adds to the creepy menace of his books, The Mountains of Madness being a fine example. I sometimes wonder what Lovecraft's reception would have been like if he was writing today - would he even have been published? I'm certainly glad that he was. Reading Lovecraft's books I am often reminded of the author Morton Bain - even though belong to very different generations.
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on 16 December 2012
This is H.P.Lovecraft at his best...this amazing tale of the bizarre alien `Old Ones` that came from the stars and once ruled the earth millions of years ago ...but are now long gone...or are they...this CD tells the tale of an Antarctic expedition that discovers the ancient remains of gigantic buildings and monuments of a race of beings that came from another star system...they begin to collate evidence to take bake to the civilized world...then members of their team begin to disappear...the mexican film director Guillermo Del Toro (`Pan`s labyrinth` `Hell Boy`) ...has this Lovecraft story down as one of his future Movie projects....and i for one hope he produces a film as good as his brilliant master piece `Pan`s Labyrinth` ...this is a four CD reading well told by William Roberts.
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on 17 August 2014
All right, perhaps the 5 stars is a little generous as this is not Lovecraft's best and is fatally flawed in its strange meandering structure that demands everything stop for an extended history lesson halfway through, but the imagination on display is nothing short of astonishing. The references to other texts and the attempt to weave the disparate parts of the mythology he had created into a unifying whole make this essential for fans. And that is the driving force behind this review. All I can add is that Naxos have done their usual top-notch job and William Roberts's intense reading perfectly compliments the insanity so often writ large by Lovecraft. If you are a fan, you will love this. And if you are not, you won't be reading this review anyway.
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Whilst the story itself is atmospheric and engaging, I found the narrator to be very hard to listen to. Although the reading was certainly supposed to be dramatic, it sounded like a boring lecture, that failed to emphasise the words on the page in the way they were written. Moreover, I found it hard to listen to each disc in one sitting. Having since sourced an alternate version my estimation of this production has gone down even further. I would disagree with the reviewers who like Mr Roberts's style. Actually when the first disc started I though I was in for a treat but the style soon became very tiresome. In short as you can probably tell I was disappointed. I suggest you visit the Naxos site and listen to a sample before buying.
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on 31 July 2013
I picked this book up when i heard Guillermo del toro was going to make a movie on it. Before you begin to read the book please keep in mind the book was written in circa 1931 and once you are in the middle be remember that very fact. the book was way ahead of its time then and quite an advanced concept to explore even today. i know there are a quite a few movies and even a genre that cover the same plot lines. But this is the original for me.
The imagery depicted in words is so vivid and graphic, your mind picks up every nuance that lovecraft tries to weave as you go along a entertainingly chilly ride.
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