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The Call of Cthulhu Movie – A New-Old Film


Click to visit the HPLHS page and grab the Cthulhu DVD

Once in a while good old Netflix streaming delivers up a very nice surprise. Last night it was the HP Lovecraft Historical Society film of Lovecraft’s story The Call of Cthulhu. It was released in 2005 as a new silent movie.

What does that mean? It’s not entirely silent–in fact, the soundtrack is wonderful. But it’s not a “talkie.”

However, it is the most brilliant, faithful rendering of Cthulhu that I have ever seen. And that you have to read the dialogue on the screen in between shots of the actors. 

As creepy as the story is, Call of Cthulhu is corny in the way all of HP Lovecraft’s stories, as much as I love them, are corny. I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the world/universe is actually not really ruled by tentacled beasties from beyond the stars, from time immemorial.

It’s still really fun to read, though! Who cares if it’s ridiculous? (apologies to the aliens and monsters if it turns out to be true). And the movie does it just right. Everyone is appropriately anguished and drawn, from the great uncle of the opening sequence, to the inspector who disrupts the crazed ritual at the bonfire, to the unfortunate first mate who returned on that ill-fated ship, to our narrator, who relates the story from an asylum as he works on a jigsaw puzzle of Starry Night.

The dream sequences and the actual temple of Cthulhu are rendered in geometry that would drive Euclid mad.

The stop-motion animation of the monster–what little can be seen–is fantastic.

The whole thing runs about 45 minutes and follows the story perfectly. I’d have to double check, but I suspect that every single word of dialogue on those cards is straight from the story.

I saw that the HPLHS is also working on Whisperer in Darkness, and I would absolutely love to see them tackle At the Mountains of Madness, especially now that it looks like Guillermo Del Toro won’t be doing it after all.

Have any of you seen it? Seen a better rendering?


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  • Ethan October 11, 2011, 7:42 pm

    Silent. Black and white. Shoestring budget.

    Also (in my not-so-humble opinion) the best Lovecraft adaptation yet committed to film. Kudos to the HPLHS–yes it’s campy, but it works. Looking forward to “Whisperer.”