The Call of Cthulhu
The Call of Cthulhu.
The Call of Cthulhu.
Adapted from the celebrated short story by American horror maestro H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu tells its story through 3 narratives, The Horror in Clay, The Tale of Inspector LeGrasse and The Madness from the Sea. Telling these stories is Francis Weylond Thurston, executor os his late great-uncles estate. Essentially set in a mental asylum, Thurston tells an unnamed detective his story of how he came to know of the Cthulhu Cult, by way of recounting the stories he found in a locked box belonging to his great uncle, George Gammel Angell.
The Horror in Clay explains Thrustons first delving into the mystery, with his discovery of his great uncles involvement with a young, 'psychically sensitive' artist named Henry Anothony Wilcox. Wilcox had been suffering strange dreams of a Cyclopean city and had made a clay bas-relief of it. He goes to Prof Angell hoping he can explain just what the strange inscriubed dream-hieroglyphs mean. When Angell tells him the bas-relief is blatantly new, Wilcox says 'dreams are older than brooding Tyre, the contemplative Sphynx or garden girdled Babylon'. The bas-relief contains the image of a monster, or symbol representing a monster, with a cephalopod head, dragon wings and a caricature of a human body. Wilcox, a week or so later, goes into a delirium and raves of new dreams, of the same city, but now with a vast horror walking or stumbling about. When Wilcox re-awakens, he can remember nothing of it.
The Tale of Inspector LeGrasse tells of Inspector Raymond LeGrasse of New Orleans, who goes to a group of archaeologists to have them tell him just what the strange idol he carries is. He says he got in a daring raid on a monstrous swamp cult. One of the archaeologists tell him he's seen something similar to the idol - in Greenland. When LeGrasse interrogates one opf the cultists, named Castro, he is told they worship the Great Old Ones, terrible alien gods who once ruled the earth, but are now imprisoned under the earth and the oceans, and their god is Great Cthulhu, who lies dead but dreaming in the nightmare corpse city of R'lyeh.. It now becomes apparent this cult is something more than a degenerate voodoo gathering...
The Madness from the Sea tells the story of a group of sailors who are blown on a terrible storm to a terrible, alien city of unnatural angles and monolithic masonry - R'lyeh. Now, what an age old cult had strived to do by design a bunch of sailors did by accident as they release Great Cthulhu from his tomb and let loose upon the world an inconcievable insnaity from the elder stars. Only two sailors make it back to the ship, Johanson one of them, and Johanson bravely, perhaps insanely, rams the steam-ship into Cthulhu, which is enough to drive the thing back into the ocean, along with the changing stars which are poisonous to the Great Old Ones.
The film ends with Thurston having the Inspector promise to burn the documents so that no one else may ever see them.
This film is nigh-on perfect. It a straight-up, no-nonsense adaptation of a classic cosmic horror story. Never before has a Lovecraft adaptation been so perfect. Sure, a few details are left out, but the filmmakers had a very limited budget. The non-Euclidean city of R'lyeh was built out of old theatre props in one of the crew's back garden!
It is done in a silent, black and white style which fits the film perfectly, as these are what films during that time were like.
I heartily reccomend this film to all Lovecraft fans, new and old. I can't speak for those who have never read Lovecraft, it may not appeal to them.
But iof you like a good cosmic mystery of unspeakable horror, go to the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's site and order it dead-cheap.