This is my new photograph called INNSMOUTH. This image is based on the story Shadow Over Innsmouth by legendary Horror author H.P. Lovecraft. This photograph stars actor Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) as the victim and features SPFX from frequent collaborator J. Anthony Kosar and his talented team at Kosart Studios.
In the 1931 story Shadow Over Innsmouth, the human victim is chased through the streets of the seaside town of Innsmouth by a teeming mob of monstrous fish people called the Deep Ones. The imagery of a sole individual being pursued by a city full of monsters is similar to Invasion of The Body Snatchers, I Am Legend, or any modern zombie movie, but exists first in Shadow Over Innsmouth. As with my previous zombie photograph LAST STAND, INNSMOUTH is populated by a horde of monsters, not just one.
Staging the scene in deep focus with extreme foreground elements was inspired by my love for Citizen Kane. Giving the monsters daggers was inspired by the assassination scene in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. There are no daggers in the original story, but Lovecraft does make a point of describing the strange gold jewelry worn by the Deep Ones. I changed the gold jewelry into golden knives, so that my swarm of monsters could fish-gut their cornered victim.
We ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for this ambitious tribute to H.P. Lovecraft to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of his birth. Many talented people came together for this grand collaboration.
My cousins Steve and Jerry Hoffine and Mike Clouse from the haunted house 3rd St. Asylum in Bonner Springs, Kansas built the walls in Jerry’s carpentry shop. They are all big men and accustomed to wearing masks for extended periods of time, so they also flew to Chicago to play the lead monsters in the photo-shoot.
Our friend Kyle Stanley helped paint the styrofoam brick walls. He drove up to Chicago to play a monster as well. Kyle is the monster on the far right with the bowler hat and bulging eyes.
My assistant Demian Vela transported me, all of my photo equipment, and the brick wall we created in a rented U-Haul trailer from Kansas City to J. Anthony Kosar’s studio in Chicago. He also plays one of the monsters in the photo.
Kosar and his talented team spent weeks creating the crowd of Deep Ones. Kosar acted as Concept Designer, FX Supervisor, and Lead Artist, with Jamie Leodones and Stevie Calabrese leading the charge as key artists, and Dina Cimarusti, Matt Kapolczynski, and Neil Viola jumping in as additional sculptors.
Celine Collins at MonkeyWrench Clothing hand-made the costume for my star Doug Jones. I wanted him dressed as a white collar city slicker – an outsider – to contrast the blue collar mob of Innsmouth locals.
Doug Jones is famous to Horror fans for his roles in HellBoy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Crimson Peak, and many other movies. Here you can see my wife Jen Hoffine adjusting Doug’s sleeve on set. Everyone was elated to spend time with Doug.
Kosar created an army of monsters as pull-over masks and gloves. With my encouragement, he mixed elements of piranha, angler fish, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon into his designs. His collection of Deep Ones is amazing.
Here you can see Kosar giving Doug the easiest make-up application of his career.
In addition to Demian, Kyle, and the Cousins, several other volunteers suited up to play monsters, including Justin Gardner, Mark Lancaster, Coye Vega, and Dan Dudych. Costumes and prop knives were loaned to us by Jerry Vest at Have Guns Will Rent in Kansas City.
I used several strobe lights to ensure my whole scene would be in focus at F/22, including a special battery-powered strobe inside the lantern. Thank you to photographer Barrett McGivney for the additional equipment, tech support, and behind-the-scenes photos.
Spending time with Doug Jones is too awesome to convey in words.
Careful framing and the liberal use of fog completed the illusion of an outdoor night scene.
The brick building in the distant background of the final shot is actually 3rd St. Asylum, the haunted house run by my Cousins. I photographed their brick building and composited it into the background of my original scene.
A huge thank you to my Producer on this project Chad Hawks – pictured here in red on the far left – who worked harder than anybody to make this project a reality!
A tremendous heartfelt thank you to all of our Kickstarter supporters, especially our mega-backers Matthew & Dawn Cheek and family, and Alan Harris! And a big thank you to the leaders of the H.P. Lovecraft community who helped spread the word about our project – including Aaron Vanek and James Knouse at the HPLFF in Los Angeles, Neils Hobbs at NecronomiCon in Rhode Island, Brian & Gwen Callahan at CthulhuCon and the Arkham Bazaar and HPLFF in Portland, Tom Jenkins, Mike Davis at the HPL-Ezine, Chad & Chris at the HPL Literary Podcast, and Sean Branney & Andrew Leman at the HPL Historical Society. We could never have done this without you! Hail Cthulhu!
See you next time!