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How The Willow Series Found Unlikely Influences In H.P. Lovecraft And Stephen King

If you've been watching the new Disney+ fantasy adventure series "Willow," the belated followup to the cult 1988 film directed by Ron Howard with a story by George Lucas, you might not expect to see the names of two of the most famous horror authors of all time cited as influences on the show. The worlds of fantasy and horror have always been intertwined, but at first glance "Willow" would appear to be more on the side of J.R.R. Tolkien than H.P. Lovecraft (who's had a fair amount of direct adaptations of his work over the years). But the two authors are serving as "huge" influences on the show's world, according to Jon Kasdan, its creator, showrunner, and self-professed fan of the original movie.

After first citing the renowned pulp author in a humorous post on Twitter, saying "Willow" is "packed with cthulhu mythos [an elaborate fictional mythology originated by Lovecraft's stories] easter eggs," Kasdan was asked in an interview to elaborate on why he felt inspired to incorporate so many allusions to Lovecraft's work into his ostensibly non-cosmic-horror oriented TV show. Whether you're a Lovecraft fan or not, his answer is interesting — and leads to Kasdan citing Stephen King as an influence on the series as well.

Show creator Jon Kasdan says he wanted Willow to have an existential dread

While "Willow" may not be a horror movie, Jon Kasdan wanted his streaming sequel series inspired by it to feature scary elements. To create that, Kasdan revealed in an interview with Collider that he sought inspiration from possibly the two most influential and well-known horror authors of the 20th century: H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. "[H]ugely influential on this story was the novel 'It,' which I read when I was...twelve or thirteen," said Kasdan. And falling in love with King's "It" led Kasdan on what he says is a familiar journey: "And I went deep into it and started to look at where it had come from and the tradition it had come out of for King, which leads all teenagers to love Lovecraft inevitably, and this incredible world he created."

Kasdan said he wanted his "Willow" to have some of the same frightening themes one reads in King and Lovecraft: "I found myself going back to Lovecraft and going back to 'It' as of an existential dread of these things that are so massive and so powerful that they make our human lives seem inconsequential and ridiculous."

So if as you watch future episodes of "Willow," you start to feel a terrifying, unknowable fear creep up your spine, you'll know it's on loan from Lovecraft and King.