Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I admit it. I’d been fooled by it.
What is it?
An amazing movie:
The Call of Cthulhu

How/why did it fool me? Let me tell you.

I’d been browsing around Netflix and it made a suggestion based upon other selections. It decided that I would like movies based on works by H.P. Lovecraft. I’m not a fan of Lovecraft, not in the true sense. I’m not NOT a fan, either. I’m peripherally familiar with his work. I’d probably like most of it, but what I do know of it sometimes goes a little far out there even for my disturbed tastes… so I never delved in headfirst.

The movie it suggested, From Beyond, had mixed reviews, but it seemed most of them were favorable. Many, though, called it a faithful adaptation. Anyone who knows me will know that to be a big selling point. I thought I might have seen it in college, shown to me by a friend obsessed with the horrifying twisted stuff of Lovecraft. Turns out I had… but it then led me to check out another Lovecraft based movie, none other than The Call of Cthulhu. I’d been even happier to read that The Call of Cthulhu had been much touted as the most accurate film version of a Lovecraft work. Even more delicious: a silent era movie! Instant Queue’d immediately. Bear in mind that I didn’t really read up on the stats of this movie.

One day I got around to watching it. I went into it with an open mind, quite interested in how the infancy of cinema would achieve the fiendish dementia of Lovecraft. I’d been amazed at how well. Everything about this movie screamed care for the story and filmcraft. The sets, for instance, had a broad scope and "delivered."One tracking-like shot (going backward!) in particular sticks in my mind. The whole show seemed reminiscent of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It maintained a high level of creepiness. And since I hadn’t read the short story it came from (but knew quite a bit about the character Cthulhu) I found myself drawn into the ever-deepening quest in the movie. The quest toward Cthulhu’s call, of course. And when the horrifying visage that IS Cthulhu the Great did appear on screen…whoa! Eat your heart out 1981 Clash of the Titans Kraken! Okay, yes, the effects 1981 were certainly much better… but hold your horses… The Call of Cthulhu is not actually a silent era movie! Come again? Thus, you see how I’d been fooled.

It’s quite true… the film had been made in 2005. Yes, yes, yes. I had seen that date on the movie description. I thought it meant the movie had been restored to its former glory. A logical assumption in this heyday of film restoration, no? Especially since I had also noticed that the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society had been involved. I figured it to be an archival project. Nope. A 2005 film made to appear like it had been made circa 1925. Impressive! I took on a whole new appreciation for the film. Wonderful skills across the board – from the lighting to the acting. A beautiful mimicry. And to know the boundaries… by which I mean how to make it appear as if it could have been done back then. Using the tools of the day to the hilt.

One reviewer said that it’s not accurate in that it isn’t scary. In order to be true to Lovecraft, he says, it would have to be frightening. Obviously he’d not be scared by it. I have to disagree with him. Few movies actually“scare” me, but I’m a regular at getting unnerved and creeped out. And boy howdy, if this one didn’t do just that! Actually, I think it’s partially the “silent era” quality of it that boosted the overall creepiness. For I’d also been impressed with the way they delivered the chills “back then.” Which in turn praises the filmmakers for understanding not only the look of a bygone style, but the innerworkings of it as well.

And you know what? The story's quite fun and freaky, too.

Bravo H.P. Lovecraft!
Bravo director Andrew Leman and team!

1 comment:

Anon said...

I wondered why it said "an all-new SILENT movie".... Surely if it were legitimately from the era it wouldn't have said "silent" on the poster....

That looks REALLY good, and I might have to take a look at it sometime!

(I'm not familiar with H. P. Lovecraft except tangentially either.)