From a baby-headed ghost to a fox demon that kills by shoving its tails inside you during sex, we celebrate Lovecraft Country’s wildest SFX ahead of the finale.
Lovecraft Country is a fantastic HBO show that explores America’s turbulent racial history through the lens of H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror literature. It’s incisive, gripping and boundlessly creative.
As much as I love the drama and the characters on Lovecraft Country, a big part of the reason I’ve been enjoying it so much is the special effects, which run the gamut from stunningly beautiful to watch-through-your-fingers horrifying. For whatever reason, the latter are the ones that tend to linger in my memory, so that we’re only a couple days away from the premiere, I thought it’d be a good time to celebrate the show’s weirder, wilder special effects, and convince you to get on board this train if you’re not already. We’re about to pull into the station.
1. The baby-head man
We meet this guy in the third episode, after Leti (Jurnee Smollett) moves into a new house in the nice part of town. Downside is that it’s extremely haunted by the spirits of the people brutally murdered by its previous owner, a racist scientist who experimented on his victims before killing them. We don’t get an explanation for where all the ghosts came from, which makes it even weirder. Why does the one in the basketball jersey have a baby’s head? What experiment was this guy doing?
If you keep watching that clip above, you’ll also see a home invader get decapitated by a haunted elevator. In another disturbing special effect, the camera just stays on his headless neck for far too long as it keeps pumping out blood. Oh god, why?
2. Yahima gets resurrected
In the fourth episode, Leti, Tic (Jonathan Majors) and Montrose (Michael K. Williams) go hunting for some lost pages to a magic book. Their search takes them to a sunken ship suspended in time underneath a museum (magic is weird) where they find a corpse clutching what they need.
Only it’s not a corpse, and when they take the pages from its hand the body transforms back into a person, Yahima. And the camera takes its time swirling around as Yahima’s flesh pops back onto their body, and their face goes from being waxen and hollow to full and fresh. It’s basically a reverse of what happens to that one idiot in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
In both cases, I will never forgot what I saw.
3. Ruby’s transformations
Leti’s sister Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) gets involved with a magician who gives her a potion that can turn into a white woman…temporarily. Ruby gets used to the advantages she gains as “Hilary,” but whenever the time limit runs out, she reemerges, and every time, it is just…
The way it looks, it’s as if Ruby is inside “Hilary” and forcing her way out, her hands tearing through the skin, her back cracking the bones, the flesh sloughing off her body in waves. It is gloriously disgusting; body horror at its finest.
4. Those creepy demon girls
In the eighth episode, young Diana (Jada Harris) is cursed to be followed around by a couple of creepy girls made up to look like stereotypes of Black people that appeared in old advertisements and minstrel shows. They have bloody clothes, permanent rictus grins, long sharp fingernails, and they dance.
Look, I don’t know exactly why little demon girls dancing in unison is so creepy, but it is. I don’t make the rules. The Lovecraft Country crew does a wonderful job of making up actresses Bianca Brewton and Kaelynn Harris to look as unsettling as possible. The characters’ names are actually Topsy and Bopsy, but I think almost does them a disservice. Let’s not give them names. Let’s just try to forget them. Maybe then I can get some sleep.
5. Ji-Ah kills people with her nine tails during sex
In the sixth episode, we take a bit of a detour to spend time with Ji-Ah, a young Korean nurse-in-training.
Only no, she’s actually kumiho, a nine-tailed fox creature from Korean mythology, living in Ji-Ah’s body. You can find out the details for yourself, but Ji-Ah is on a quest to have sex with one hundred men, and to kill them all at the moment of climax. This comes as a complete surprise when we watch for the first time. Her tails come out from everywhere on her body, and start…probing. One goes up the guy’s ass, two in his ears, two in his eyes (they come right out of her eye-sockets, which is enough for a whole episode) and one straight down his mouth. Then she takes his memories and explodes him in a goopy mess.
I mean…who came up with this idea? What was working on this scene like? How do I get it out of my mind? Do I even want to? These are the questions that torment me.
I have by no means included all the great special effects from the show. What about Hippolyta’s mind-bending journey through space and time in “I Am,” or the careful recreation of the Tulsa Race Massacre in “Rewind 1921”? For whatever reason, the creepy effects are the ones I remember most, and I’m both scared and excited to see what the show has in store for this Sunday’s finale.