Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Eighty-six - The Call of Cthulhu, "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu F'taghn!"

There's something tremendously fascinating about the Mythos universe that was created (and subsequently inspired) by H.P.Lovecraft's writings. While his writing style hasn't exactly stood the test of time, his imaginings certainly have, in the books, comics, and movies of those he and his ilk have inspired. Names like Mike Mignola and Guillermo Del Toro and Jeffrey Combs instantly jump to mind. Even David Warner was done Lovecraftian Horror before (but, then, he's done just about everything).

Perhaps it's because his Old Ones are so alien and incomprehensible that we are always so readily drawn in, yet repulsed in terror by them.

Here, in this modern day send-up to both the Mythos and the silent-film era, HPLHS (which I want to believe stands for H P Lovecraft High School, in Miskatonic, Massachusetts) has put together a stylistic recreation of those pulp stories of yesteryear, lovingly low-key and moody.

Set as a series of flashbacks told by an insane researcher (in typical Lovecraftian fashion), Call of Cthulhu takes the audience on a journey across continents and oceans that connects witness accounts from several vignettes that are all related to a mysterious cult. The Cthulhu Cult, as it's branded by a New Orleans Police Inspector, is wild and primal but also hidden and devious. Despite the witness accounts, no one is able to put the pieces together until the young researcher compiles all the data during his duties as the executor of his late Grand-Uncle's will.

Each scene is suitably dim and dangerous, with cultists lurking around almost every corner and something worse waiting under the waves for the climax. The special effects and cinematography are intentionally rough and downgraded so as to recreate the available technology of the times, combining matte effects with stop motion and miniatures, doing their best to make their limited visuals as artistic and believable as possible (unlike the monster movies of the 50's and 60's, which were all for cheesy, cheap effects). I especially liked what they did with stop-motion Cthulhu at the end, limiting his screen time and making the most of reaction shots from the actors.

I think that my only disappointment is that it's so short... even while it works for the style and story. Instead of bogging us down with plodding scenes, it moves along with a very brisk pace. I just wish there could've have been more, is all.

While it's not exactly frightening, Call of Cthulhu is a great example of entertaining Horror movies, as it recreates both the silent film era style and the pulpy chills of Lovecraft's Mythos stories. It's certainly one of the best Mythos movies I've ever seen as, sadly, most are never given a proper budget or quality production team (Like Dagon or Necronomicon)... even as they're earnest and entertaining. I think the closest we get come courtesy of the Hellboy movies... and, in those, I am content.

Still, if you're any fan of Lovecraftian Horror, Call of Cthulhu should definitely be on your list of films to see!

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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