The Cabinet of Curiosities is a series that pleases me for many reasons.
It has good stories with precise scripts, good production, direction, and acting.
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– The Episodes’ Unity in the Cabinet of Curiosities –
There is nothing that hints at these stories sharing the same universe.
Even though, these different stories share some familiarity, somehow.
Guillermo del Toro is directly involved in only one of the episodes,
as the author of the short story that was adapted.
Besides that, he presents each episode as a host for the series.
Still, there is unity among the episodes of the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Beyond the horror genre present in every episode, the cosmic horror of H. P Lovecraft is on most of them.
– The Cabinet of Curiosities and the Amazing Stories –
This series reminded me a lot of another anthology that marked my youth, Amazing Stories.
Amazing Stories was produced by Spielberg and it brings fantastic tales.
Probably the fact that both are well-produced and have a great director behind them.
They both have beautiful openings that make us eager to know what we are going to see next.
That is why I enjoy anthology series. They are much like short stories books.
The surprise the anthology brings us every episode with a new story is very nice.
The same doesn’t happen while watching a sequential series, save for rare examples.
To watch an anthology is like opening excellent presents one after another.
In Cabinet of Curiosities, many episodes are short story adaptations.
This way it follows the example of other great anthologies.
Nightmare and Dreamscapes is also very good and adapted many short stories by Stephen King.
This time, the main inspiring author was H. P. Lovecraft, with two of his stories directly adapted and all the other episodes, except two, inspired by his style of horror and his mythology.
I recommend watching, in case you didn`t already, then, go on and read the rest of my text to avoid spoilers.
— SPOILERS for the Cabinet of Curiosities —
The episode I most enjoyed, concerning the Lovecraftian narrative structure, was the second one: Graveyard Rats.
In this story, we see what I think is most fascinating in Lovecraft`s creations, the layers of realities and horrors.
Lovecraft usually wrote stories about horrors extending centuries, millennia, or ages.
Then, it is common that his protagonists start by noticing just the tip of the “iceberg”.
They see something that could be ignored or left aside without much consequence.
But the protagonist will be tempted or forced to investigate it.
And that leads him or her to notice there is more beyond the tip.
Usually, the protagonist stop being taken seriously by their peers.
That feeds an obsession or desire to make them know it is all true and serious.
In this episode, this happens when the grave robber notices the rats are robbing corpses.
The rats even make the bodies disappear using mysterious underground tunnels.
Another staple of Lovecraftian horror is the shock between reason and mysteries that science can`t explain yet.
– Reason Versus the Unreasonable in Lovecraft’s Work –
He wrote in the early 20th century.
Science was settling as the dominating voice in the public debate.
When many phenomena were beginning to be perceived by the public under this light.
But there were still many corners of the Earth yet to be explored by scientists.
There were many regions with unexplained phenomena, yet to be studied.
Yet to be understood by Western reason.
Lovecraft took these remains of mystery in our world and populated them with his creatures.
Many of these creatures were originally from the yet mysterious cosmic frontier.
These creatures manifested through “primitive” rituals or phenomena.
The protagonist was generally a person with a scientific logic of the time.
That is why they suffer a shock when confronted by something that can`t be explained by this logic.
Sometimes these characters find some mystical explanation for it.
and, even though they are shaken by it, they can live through their lives.
In the case of the graverobber, he could be like that if he managed to escape the tunnels.
If he managed to survive the giant rat or didn’t touch the catacomb mummy.
It is more common for the protagonist to dig for the base of the “iceberg”.
Believing there is a rational reason behind all of that.
Either that or they are already losing their minds.
It is very common among the ones that seek reason where there is none.
– Entities Beyond Imagination in Cosmic Horror –
Another interesting aspect of Lovecraft`s creations is the entities from other planes.
Creatures that inhabit the universe eons before us humans.
Because of that they are so different than us and so powerful, beyond our comprehension.
Our minds could even conceive their images without going insane.
Knowing that, to seek reason in Lovecraftian literature is futile.
The graverobber will find it out in the worst way possible.
Each time he uncovered a new layer more sinister than the ones before.
But this never brings an explanation, only more questions.
What he thinks were mere rats, are guided by an unnatural common sense.
The cultists in the mysterious catacombs, whom he only heard rumors about.
They were not regular madmen, but really dealt with forces beyond our understanding.
One of them managed to remain “alive” for decades or centuries.
He depended on the medallion the thief stole from him.
Finally, the thief dies a victim of his arrogance and greed.
If he lived, he would surely be only a shadow of what he was.
Eternally haunted by what he saw inside the tunnels.
– Layers Under Layers of Horror –
It isn`t rare in the universe of Lovecraft for a church to be the front of a fanatical group of pagans.
Later it is revealed that under that church there was a place of adoration centuries ago.
But ages before that were the resting place for a creature of great power or something like that.
Layers of history, are not so different than what we see in our world.
Modern cities are built on the ruins of ancient civilizations.
Civilizations emerged from tribes that inhabited those lands and so on.
I could talk as much about each episode, but I won`t write individual reviews for each of them.
But, I want to know what you think about this series, in the comments, then we can talk more about it.