– The Call of Cthulhu –
This isn’t a new film, but it’s one that not nearly enough people have talked about. So now I’m gonna. If, like me, you were a HP Lovecraft fan before hearing about this movie, don’t bother with this review. Just go buy it. Do it now.
The Call of Cthulhu is a short film (about 45 minutes) based on the short story of the same name by famous racist lunatic HP Lovecraft. Considered one of Lovecraft’s most enduring horror masterpieces, Call traces a series of seemingly unrelated events that are in fact all tied to an ancient and malevolent god, Cthulhu (a sort of a bat-winged octopus bodybuilder the size of a skyscraper). Where Cthulhu’s sinister touch is felt, madness and death follow. The movie is the work of the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, a pretty well known fanclub of the late author.
What makes this movie stand out over other films made by English professors and internet dorks with a copy of Final Cut Pro and a big stack of depression-era men’s magazines? In a word, effort. Not content with making an obviously fake low-budget horror film, the HPLHS instead created their own silent film, replete with chiaroscuro lighting and stop-motion creature effects. This is also authentic to the time period in which Lovecraft wrote. The effect is convincing for the most part. The antique drawing rooms and theater bayous that make up the film look wonderful, and Cthulhu’s cursed city of R’lyeh is a masterwork of modeling. The high frame rate of videotape gives the film away at times, however, and some of the compositing is a little obvious.
The acting in Call is hard to critique. The performers are emulating silent-film horror parts, and do the job well, but the result isn’t scary, any more than it is in genuine silent films. None of the performers breaks the feel of the film, and they all look spot on for the times and places depicted.
The soundtrack is excellent period music that fits to the film much better than a true silent film soundtrack could- there’s no dialogue or effects here, but instrumental stings sync up to the action nicely. The creepy moodiness of the soundtrack generates the bulk of the spine-tingles here, and the film would suffer without it.
Obviously you can only get this movie on DVD through web-order, and at $20 it’s a steal. There’s an hour or so of making-of features that are pretty awesome, and my copy came with a replica of one of the newspaper clippings used in the film. Support neato indy filmmaking, and your own entertainment, and pick this one up.
Buy it from these folks: http://www.cthulhulives.org/toc.htm