Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cthulhu Lives

I had heard of an independent film of H. P. Lovecraft's Call Of Cthulhu and rented it through Netflix. Produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society it is a faithful translation of the story to the screen. The film makers decided to make this a silent film and in black and white. The results are outstanding.
Lovecraft has been brought to the screen numerous times and mostly disappoint. American International Pictures' The Dunwich Horror is pretty much a horror. Better was their filming of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, released as Poe's The Haunted Palace". Others have been filmed as blood and gore extravaganzas such as Reanimator, but with a certain touch of good humor. Dagon is actually a reasonable adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth with copious amounts of blood and sex thrown into the mix. Not bad but not Lovecraft.
But The Call of Cthulhu is a movie HPL would have loved. It follows the story faithfully and looks like it could have been actually released in 1927. The cast is made up of unknowns but this works to its advantage. The acting is good and the cast well chosen. Many of the effects were created using modern green screen technology but it does a good job of simulating the technical abilities of the time. Cthulhu himself appears as a stop motion figure, and while not up to Ray Harryhausen's standards, the result is effective. The swamp set resembles the jungle on Kong's Skull Island in the 1933 classic. Costuming is good and the sets are impressive, especially after you see how they were constructed on the making-of featurette. The film is accompanied by an effective, original score which sometimes resembles Max Steiner's score for King Kong without being a blatant imitation.
While not perfect Call of Cthulhu is still a very good. The producers used their small budget to good effect and the final product looks as though it was made on a larger budget.
So, while I try not to get into advertising here, I do recommend this DVD to any fan of Lovecraft, silent movies, or period pulp fiction in general. It's well worth the time spent watching it.
For information on the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society and where to purchase the DVD go here:


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