Glowing Review of "The Call of Cthulhu" DVD

Lady of tdaxp and I spent this beautiful Indian summer evening watching an amazing film, The Call of Cthulhu. Distributed the Howard Philips Lovecraft Historical Society, directed by Andrew Leman, and written by Sean Branney, The Call of Cthulhu is a triumph of art, literature, and film.

The Call of Cthulhu (Found Among the Papers of the Late Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston) was written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1928. Lovecraft, a horror writer, amateur astronomer, and blogger (well, actually “amateur journalist”), was first and foremost a poet. The story, which threads the shorter tales The Horror in the Clay, The Tale of Inspector Legrasse, and The Madness from the Sea, was inspired by Lord Tennyson’s The Kraken:

There hath he lain for ages and will lie,
Battening on huge seaworms in his sleep;
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die

And indeed, the entire tale is poetry amidst poetry, as in the narrator’s second-hand description of a third author’s couplet:

Of the cult, he said that he thought the centre lay amid the pathless desert of Arabia, where Irem, the City of Pillars, dreams hidden and untouched. It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Ironically for a tale by a poet, the movie The Call of Cthulhu is silent. Completely. It is made in the style of a silent movie from 1928. Some music videos over the past few years have tried this style — Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Otherside, for example, and Smashing Pumpkin’s Tonight, Tonight — but none have done it this well. The movie is not knowingly ironic, it is not a comedy, it is not take itself lightly. The Call of Cthulhu is a serious attempt to recreate a horror tale from the 1920s in the style of 1920s Hollywood. It succeeds brilliantly.

That’s why it was a Seattle International Film Festival Selection.


Book Cover

The Call of Cthulhu is the best Lovecraft adaptation I have ever seen, it is the best silent film I have ever seen. The Call of Cthulhu is a masterful executed labor of love. Watch it.

The Call of Cthulhu is available for rent from greencine or purchase from Amazon.com . It runs 47 minutes, and includes an excellent “making of” documentary.

More reviews are available from the HPLHS. A trailer is also available.

Of course, there are humorous adaptations, too.

One thought on “Glowing Review of "The Call of Cthulhu" DVD”

  1. hmm. wonder if Amazon has it to buy or rent in their new Unbox(TM) (or whatever snappy name it's called). might have to check that tonight…

  2. Sean,

    In spite of your hopes [1] it appears that Unbox doesn't have it, which means you'll just have to support your local, neighborhood, continental boutique dvd rental store [2] 🙂

    Earlier I also gave an extremely positive review to an annotated collection of Lovecraft's works [3], and the sequel [4] was pretty good too (if not as thematic).

    [1] http://seanmeade.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-also-like-to-post-about-hp-lovecraft.html
    [2] http://www.greencine.com/webCatalog?id=178357
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/05/19/soar-into-horror-review-of-the-annotated-h-p-lovecraft-edite.html
    [4] http://g.msn.com/9SE/1?http://www.amazon.com/More-Annotated-H-P-Lovecraft-P/dp/0440508754&&DI=6244&IG=2171761db8c7403483cb38e33d8c0987&POS=1&CM=WPU&CE=1&CS=AWP&SR=1

  3. blast. you mean i'll have to leave the house? that would mean i'd have to put on pants (Jim Gaffigan reference there 😉

    i well remember the compliation review. i should give it a try…

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