Monday, December 7, 2009

Call of Cthulhu (2005)

A friend told me about this little gem of a movie. As a Lovecraft fan I was so surprised that I had never heard of it. Finding out that it was made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society was even more of a treat. They were going to make a real Lovecraft movie, rich with all the elements of the mythos. Made as a silent movie on 1920s film stock, the film could not have been a better tribute to the story.

In the beginning of our tale, Great Cthulhu lies dreaming in the sunken city of R’lyeh, waiting for the stars to be right so that he can return….or does he?

We follow our hero who has set himself on a quest to discover the key to a strange cult being investigated by his now deceased great-uncle. The uncle, a psychiatrist, had a chance encounter with an artifact 17 years before his death and became obsessed with finding out the meaning of the strange statue and the words “Cthulhu fha’tgn”. In 1925 a young patient came to his office complaining of terrible dreams and voices calling, “Cthulhu fha’tgn”.

Consumed by the same secrets that contributed to his uncle’s death, our hero sets out on journey that takes him all over the world. We follow him as he is drawn into the nightmares, the tragic demises, and the devastating discoveries of a world beneath our own.
Full of Lovecraftean prose and rich with all the trappings of a true Cthulhu tale (artifacts, newspaper clippings, old diaries, crazed cultists, Cyclopean cities, and vivid nightmares), the tale finally enters the great sea and the maddening landscape of R’lyeh itself.

Andrew Leman, a self-proclaimed Lovecraft fanatic, directed the film and was responsible for a large portion of the brilliant use of props. Fellow Cthulhu expert, Sean Branney, adapted the story for the screen. Practically everyone on the cast and crew were novices to movie making. This adds to the enthusiasm everyone had for the project, even those who knew nothing of the Lovecraft mythos previously.
The special features on the DVD are longer than the feature film and just as interesting. Along with the trailer, there are interviews with the cast and crew, and some scenes shown in their original form, in color and with speaking. The film makers are very witty and interesting and their excitement in their project is contagious. After watching, I wanted to go back and watch the movie again.

Made to have the appearance of a 1920s era adventure, CoC (*giggle* I get to use that abbreviation in a non-role playing medium) uses as much of the technology that was around at that time as they could, only using modern conveniences such as green screens when there was no other choice. The use of unrelated props in the film is amazing. The director, Andrew Leman, has worked in props and graphic arts on other films, and his talent really comes out in this movie.
The film makers went to interesting lengths to make modern day settings look 1920s.  They also went to great pains to create something Lovecraft himself would have been proud of.  The Fleur de Lis studio mentioned by Lovecraft in his writings was one of the locations of an outdoor scene.  Some unlikely materials were used to create the risen city, and a very satisfactory scene with Cthulhu himself topped it all off.

Using 1920s materials, the film makers created the god and lets the audience see him full on, which is always a thrill to Cthulhu fans. 

The only thing that took me out of the setting was that the acting techniques were more modern, and less silent film-ish.  The motions were less exaggerated.  But I think the overall effect was brilliant. At only 47 minutes running time, the movie was long enough to establish the story but short enough not to make the silent film gimmick feel forced and boring.
I think that film lovers of all kinds should watch this movie.  It is unique and made by other film lovers.  It is definitely the very best of the Lovecraft genre of movies out there.  Very impressive.

1 comment:

  1. It is fantastic, but I would disagree with one point made in the review. The best Mythos movie ever made can be found at