Color Out Of Space: Every H.P. Lovecraft Reference & Easter Egg Explained
Richard Stanley's cosmic horror movie, Color Out Of Space, is adapted from H.P. Lovecraft's short story of the same name; while it does feature the Lovecraftian elements familiar to its source, it also includes references to and Easter eggs from several others. Stanley's first installment in his Lovecraft trilogy focuses on the aftermath of a meteor landing on the Gardner family's farm. As they ponder its origins, a strange color appears, prompting bizarre events to take place that lead to astronomical disasters. Color Out Of Space may be based on the 1927 short story, but it draws an abundance of its contents from other Lovecraftian lore and various stories.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
Starring Nicolas Cage as Nathan Gardner, the film opens on his daughter, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), performing a ritual from the Necronomicon, also known as the Book Of The Dead. H.P. Lovecraft's stories have always been an integral piece of cinematic horror history. In Sam Raimi's 1981 film, The Evil Dead, reading from the iconic Necronomicon conjures demonic entities that transform the living into Deadites. The Necronomicon was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 story, "The Hound", and has made countless appearances in various forms of media since then. In recent years, there has been a Lovecraftian revival with the HBO show Lovecraft Country, the Cthulhu monster in Underwater, and in Stanley's recently green-lit Lovecraft trilogy, which includes Color Out Of Space.
The director is currently in midst of expanding his Lovecraftian universe with the upcoming second installment in the trilogy, The Dunwich Horror, adapted from Lovecraft's 1929 short story of the same name. Stanley is known to be a fan of the horror author's works and, as such, included various references and Easter eggs to the author's other stories in Color Out Of Space.
The events of Color Out Of Space take place on the outskirts of Arkham, Massachusetts. This location is referenced in several Lovecraftian works, and as such, has become a landmark for all things horrific. It first appeared in the 1920 story "The Picture In The House" as the precursor to the stories that would create what is now known as "Lovecraft Country." It is described as resembling Salem, Massachusetts with its haunting air and unsettling atmosphere. Arkham holds a wealth of secrets that involve monsters, magic, alchemy, and reanimation.
In Color Out Of Space, the mayor of Arkham comes to see the meteor, and asserts that Nathan should have sold him the property to avoid dealing with situations such as these. The surrounding areas of the city are known for their rural appearance and the creatures that reside there. Color Out Of Space's meteor adds alien elements to Arkham, Massachusetts. The story of the Gardner family is integral to crafting a portion of what the woods surrounding the New England town hold. The location holds a very specific assumption that prepares a reader or viewer for the horrors ahead. It is used in order to tie in the upcoming additions to the Lovecraft trilogy as well as expand the cinematic universe of Lovecraftian horror.
Miskatonic University Alumni
Ward Phillips (Elliot Knight) appears on screen wearing a Miskatonic University shirt. After graduating, he became a hydrologist who studies the meteor's bizarre effects on the Gardner farm's water. While his character name is not mentioned in the short story, a scientist like him is present; his name is based on The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward. The two only share a name, but Ward Phillips has an even deeper connection to another infamous scientist in Lovecraft's stories. He and Herbert West both attended Miskatonic University for different branches of scientific study.
The 1922 short story "Herbert West - Reanimator" is the first to mention the university. It is the location where West reanimates the deceased, which made him one of the most iconic zombie creators in horror history. His story was adapted by Stuart Gordon in the 1985 film Re-Animator, starring Jeffrey Combs as the experimental medical student. Miskatonic University is located in Arkham, Massachusetts, which means that Ward Phillips may be very familiar with the strange happenings that take place in and around the city. If Stanley stays true to the timeline in his trilogy, it can be assumed that, five years prior to Ward's encounters with the Gardner family, Herbert West was in the midst of reanimating his first corpse. If the two are not connected, the Miskatonic University shirt still remains an iconic reference to one of Lovecraft's most popular stories.
The Necronomicon & Lavinia Whateley Of The Dunwich Horror
Color Out Of Space's upcoming sequel, The Dunwich Horror, features Lavinia Whateley, the mother of Wilbur Whateley. The original story describes her as an albino with physical deformities whose child has his own set of genetic anomalies. Most importantly, she is known for using the Necronomicon to conjure an extra-dimensional creature. Stanley named the Gardners' daughter after the iconic character but, even bigger than that, he gave her the power to use the book of the dead in ritualistic practices. While she does not believe she is capable of causing anything to happen as a result of using the text, the movie makes an allusion to Lavinia conjuring the space meteor that caused the horrific events of the movie.
Considering Stanley's upcoming second installment, it's likely he used the name Lavinia as a preview to The Dunwich Horror. It is also entirely plausible that he could use Lavinia Gardner somehow in the sequel and make her the mother of Wilbur Whateley. The Necronomicon is used in numerous stories by Lovecraft, but the fact that the director tied the name Lavinia to the text when the two do not belong together in the original short story speaks volumes about the future of the trilogy. She will undoubtedly play an even bigger role throughout Stanley's trilogy; the Necronomicon will likely make another appearance as well. While there have not been any announcements on when The Dunwich Horror could release, Color Out Of Spaceproposes an array of possible routes for the next movie to take.About The Author