Monday, April 27, 2009

Mythos Monday - The Call of Cthulhu (2005) Movie Review



Before I start, I'm going to say that I'm not much of a movie reviewer...at all. But since I say "Yeah, sure!" last week, I might as well keep my word. I'll also say you can find the IMDB page here, and some cool stills from the movie here.

The film itself is a black and white, silent film production of H.P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu. It's around 47 minutes long and goes to great lengths to faithfully re-create the story on screen. They succeeded amazingly.

I won't bother with a plot synopsis - read the Wikipedia link above if you want one. What I will do is point out that the story itself as written does not lend itself well to modern film. Since the story is a narration based upon the notes and experiences of people other than the narrator and contains little dialogue, addressing the story with a movie full of dialogue would (I believe) unnecessarily complicate the movie. The silent format was excellent for visualizing the three separate stories that make up The Call of Cthulhu, allowing just enough "dialogue" to be put in to fill in gaps and keep the story rolling. Taking only a small amount of license with events and people, the plot is adhered to almost exactly.

Highlights: I liked that the producers took the time to vary the images of Cthulhu used in the film - particularly the idols. The ones from the Louisiana Bayou, the Esquimax tribe in Greenland, and found aboard the freighter in the South Pacific are all distinctly different and horrid in their own ways. The cult scene was great - the battle between police and the cultists was carried out in true silent movie style. The Cthulhu stop animation reminds me of "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" with the exception that the detail put into Cthulhu itself is phenomenal. The DVD carries several minutes of bonus footage, much of which is stop animation creation and outtakes.

The DVD also has a behind the scenes feature, about 25 minutes with the producers, cast, crew, set designers, etc. Quite impressive. Being an independent film with a low budget (not to mention forcing themselves into a specific "era" of film making) they went about it "the old fashioned way" - though with modern equipment - and it was great to see how they put things together, created perspective with small sets, and built a two-story R'lyeh in the narrator's back yard and figured out how to make a sailor get "swallowed up" by the city's bizzare geometry. Watching it was just as worthwhile as watching the movie.

Quibbles are so minor, they bear no mention...really.

In short - this is DVD not simply worth seeing, but buying and enjoying again and again.

As a bonus, it was also an excellent way to introduce my 9 year old to the story (and the basis of the mythos) a few years before he can read at the level Lovecraft wrote.

6 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

Wow, now that's a silent movie!

I have to admit that I was a little turned on by the guy with the eye patch. It must go back to my younger lustful pirate fantasy days. I thought the church beat that out of me, but I guess not. Back to confession....

briwei said...

I must confess, that trailer looks better than many I have seen recently. All I can say is WOW. I may have to order that. Good find!

Dr. Momentum said...

I look forward to seeing this!

Randal Graves said...

Definitely a very cool flick, and you're right, the way they did it given the actual structure of the story was perfect. One expects deviations from the text since it's a different medium, but the fewer, er, monstrous, changes, the better.

Chef Cthulhu said...

Nunly - lusty pirate nuns? Think I saw a movie about that.

briwei - the trailer is cool. It's funny watching it after seeing the movie though; the trailer is so out of order it made me laugh. Then again, it's supposed to be.

Dr M - if you don't get a chance to by the time I'm back on the South Coast let me know; I'll loan it to you.

Randal - you called it last week when you said it was a great flick!

Beach Bum said...

The DVD also has a behind the scenes feature, about 25 minutes with the producers, cast, crew, set designers, etc.Sometimes the behind the scene stuff is better than the movie. During a boring, rainy weekend I watched just about all the behind the scene stuff for the Lord of the Rings movies. Yeah, I have no life.