Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weird Mystery


The internet (at least part of it) has been a buzz with the references to Robert W. Chambers' King in Yellow, among other weird tale nods in the new HBO crime drama True Detective. While it remains to be seen if this is just flavoring or their is really something weird (in the supernatural sense) afoot on the show, there are a number of other works that can scratch the "weird mystery" itch. I should note, I'm making a difference between "an investigation intersects the supernatural" from the activities of "occult detectives" who frequently interact with the supernatural as a matter of course. The former is what I'm focusing on here.

These would be great inspiration for Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, or other horror games in that vein.

Film and TV:
Angel Heart: New York private detective Harry Angel heads to New Orleans to find a missing crooner for a mysterious client.
Twin Peaks: An FBI agent investigates the murder of the homecoming queen in a very strange Washington town.
"Cigarette Burns": The best episode of the Masters of Horror anthology series has a rare films dealer looking for a an obscure French film, La Fin Absolue du Monde, which is rumored to have sparked a deadly riot at its premiere.
The Ninth Gate: A rare book dealer is hired to find the three known copies of a rare occult tome and determine which is the real one and which are forgeries.

Fiction:
Kim Newman, "Big Fish": Innsmouth isn't the only place with a shadow over it. A California gumshoe finds out sunny Bay City has one, too.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, The Club Dumas: The book The Ninth Gate was based on, but with a lot more literary references and a different ending.

10 comments:

Tim Knight said...

Good shout out for Cigarette Burns. Incredible episode, definitely the strongest - by a country mile - of the show's run.

Jack said...

Heh, I read to see what I've missed in this vein; turns out I own all these things!

Trey said...

@Tim - I agree.

@Jack - I'm sure there are some I'm not aware of. Maybe someone will suggest something else.

Aos said...

I watched the 1941 version of the Maltese Falcon last night and you could easily substitute something weirder for the falcon, and have when the movie ends (they discover what they have been chasing and killing over is a fake) as just a part of the sequence. You also get a badass set of NPCS.

Trey said...

@Aos - Very true. Another McGuffin based mystery "Kiss Me Deadly" almost has magic in it--in the sense that radioactive material is something outside most people's experience.

Kelvin Green said...

Kiss Me Deadly in turn inspired parts of Pulp Fiction; although the contents of the case are unexplored in the film there's no reason they couldn't be in a game.

Cigarette Burns is not only the best of the Masters of Horror but it's the best thing John Carpenter's done in years; I was hoping it was a return to form for him but The Ward suggested that I was wrong.

Kaiju said...

I didn't know about "Cigarette Burns", I'll need to track that down.

I ran a Cthulhu one-shot with the basic premise that the McGuffin in the box from Kiss Me Deadly was the Shining Trapezohedron. The PCs summoned the Haunter of the Dark and cornered it at the top of LA City Hall.

Dave said...

"Falling Angel," the novel Angel Heart is based on, is pretty wonderful too. Been a decade since I read it but it was strange in a different way than the film.

Also "Kiss Me Deadly" is a wonderful strange film! From macho Mike Hammer to true dread!

Gus L said...

Kolchak! So bizarre, so mid 70's.

Canageek said...

The 9th Gate had a really cool premise, and of course Johnny Depp's acting was suberb, but I felt like there was 20 or 30 minutes cut from the movie, as it felt really disjointed at times, and there seemed to be a lot of moving from a hired expert to a seeker himself missing.