Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Call of Cthulhu


The Call of Cthulhu
Directed by Andrew Leman, USA, 2005
Horror / Thriller / Black & White / Silent, 45min
Distributed by H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society

Story:
H.P. Lovecraft's classic tale of Gothic horror finally brought to life. A young man inherits his Grandfathers belongings, among these his research into the mystic Cthulhu Cult. He reads the journals, solves the last few puzzles and finds himself drawn into a nightmare beyond his wildest imagination.


Me:
Lovecraft is one of the few horror writers who I feel have been worth reading. There's a feel to his words, he manages to set a very distinct tone in his writing. I also feel that the movies based on his novels, like Re-Animator 1985, From Beyond 1986, Dagon 2001 (all of them by Stuart Gordon!), and Yuzna/Gans/Kaneko's Necronimicon 1994, all have a certain mood to them that works and are reminiscent of the feelings I had when I first read the novels. So how good couldn't this short 45 minute adaptation of Call of Cthulhu be? Well, it is really really good. It's a low budget job, mostly financed by Andrew Leman and Sean Branney, both founders of the "H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society", and it's obvious of their reverence for the original story. No extra frills, just the story as it is, all three episodes and the wrap around, as taken right from the novella. They have chosen to shoot in black & white with intertitles to get that authentic 20's feel to it. Postproduction wise they have ditched the colour and given the film a vintage look. Which all works fine, I just wish that they had done something about the video sharpness. Nothing disturbs me more than video trying to pass as celluloid, an effect which with today’s technology is pretty easily made in post. The sets are great and there's an obvious huge amount of inspiration taken from the German expressionists here, Robert Weine's Cabinet des Dr. Caligari 1920, Murnau's Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens 1922 and Faust 1926, with their painted shadows and big black spaces. When we finally get to the climax of seeing Cthulhu they show us the lost joys of stop motion animation. It works like a charm. So apart from the crispy video shining through more often than it should have this is going to be a definite cult classic in the years to come. I raise my hat to you Mr's Leman & Branney.

Image:
Presented in Mythoscope, their own brand, the full frame 4:3 image works like a charm for a film trying to come off as an old lost silent movie. As it's a silent movie, the old school intertitles offer no more than 24 different languages to choose from, that's just how eager they are that everyone can see this piece of work.

Audio:
Two options are given, the rich symphonic score in either Hi-definition or Mythophonic, which is also their very authentic old silent movie crispiness to the score.

Extras:
The movie trailer, also presented in Mythophonic sound, half an hour of behind the scenes, creating props, production design and the making of. Photographs from the set, and from the movie. A few deleted scenes with more footage of Cthulhu. Also on the DVD is a full set of replica props from the movie printable from your computer.

Just the pure heart and fact that the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society made sure that the film is available on DVD presented in the ingenious format "Mythoscope" is worth supporting. Probably the best Lovecraft adaptation to date and for a long time coming. That is until some major studio gets these guys on contract and let's them go wild. Buy it and check it out, you won't be disapointed.

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