BluRay/DVD Reviews

CALL OF CTHULHU

By • May 29th, 2007 •

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47 Minutes / Silent / Full Symphonic Score
Black and White NTSC Region O

While fantasy authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley and Stephen King have contributed to the Hollywood grist factory – with results of varying quality, the works of American writer Howard Philips Lovecraft (1890-1937) have still not caught on with the general public, nor have been treated, with rare exceptions, with respect by Major or Low Budget Hollywood studios.

Most film translations of Lovecraft’s prose, I am sorry to say, are nothing more than disguised sexual romps fused with demonstrations of the latest gore makeup effects (the REANIMATOR series and DAGON), using the original stories as just a basis for hack revisionist plots. There have been several close attempts such as the Roger Corman THE HAUNTED PALACE (an entertaining film based upon the novel “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”) from American International. We can also site the “Night Gallery” television series with their attempts (COOL AIR,PICKMAN’S MODEL) at bringing the writer’s work to a wider public awareness.
But with very few exceptions, cinematic and televised attempts have been pretty dismal…..

UNTIL NOW!

From HPLHS MOTION PICTURES comes the most sincere, and the first really accurate vision of the grand master’s work – one that would have had him stop spinning in his grave, stand up and salute! It is a totally absorbing, almost hypnotic piece of cinema, a true labor of love. Shot in glorious b/w as a SILENT MOVIE with a wonderful orchestral soundtrack, THE CALL OF CTHULHU, budgeted at $50,000, the producers cast actors (almost 50) by their face and body types, an old trick from the silent film era. I thought of Abel Gance’s casting for NAPOLEON in 1927.

Sean Branney’s screenplay, set up like the H.P. Lovecraft short story (which originally appeared in the 1928 “Weird Tales” magazine to great success) as a series of flashbacks as ‘The Man’ (Matt Foyer) explains to ‘The Listener’ (John Bolen) in a hospital setting, the various series of events that are linked to a horrifying reality about mankind’s fate.

A series of global earthquakes seem to trigger an epidemic of violent dreams, mental breakdowns, and suicide in hyper-sensitive groups of people (artists, writers, poets. An investigation into the origin of the aberrations leads from Rhode Island to New Orleans to Australia to Norway to, eventually – via flashback – a hellish blight of a city called R’lyeh (and its horrible master – The Great Old One called “Cthulhu”).

As a fan of the silent film era, I thought the idea of shooting the movie in b/w with only music tracks in place of spoken voices was an inspired move (and this is not intended as an insult to the wonderful cast of actors in the movie). As a result, the viewer is drawn to the incredible starkness of the images. The only flaw – and it is a tiny one I assure you – is the stop-motion animation for Cthulhu itself. But the creature is only barely glimpsed in quick flashes, so it does no harm to the story flow.
The DVD release of THE CALL OF CTHULHU includes extras like stop-motion footage, behind the scenes footage and set construction (cardboard and wood), comments by the people behind the production (the footage with Chad Fifer is really funny as you actually HEAR his dialogue as he goes into a wonderfully demented Dwight Frye/Dennis Miller/Mancow rant, adlibbing insanely). Also included are the original trailer, and complete intertitles in 24 languages including Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Euskera, Finnish, French, Galician and Welsh.

The film costs $20.00 and can be ordered at
The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
2466 Chevy Chase Lane,
Glendale, CA 91206

This DVD is a great way not only to show that a small budget, with a wonderful group of talented people at the helm, can really go a long way. It’s a fabulous glimpse into the mad world of H.P. Lovecraft.

CTHULHU LIVES!!

Note: As of this writing, Sean Branney and the gang are preparing the groundwork for their next production: “THE WHISPERER IN THE DARKNESS”, also penned by the extraordinary HP.


Special Features in Life-like color.
Trailer
Behind The Scenes:Pictures, Interviews& Anecdotes
Replica prop: Sydney Bulletin accessible and printable via personal computer (Adobe Acrobat required).
Deleted Material
Complete Intertitles in 24 Languages.


Screen Adaption by Sean Branney
Music by Troy Sterling, Ben Holbrook, Nicholas Pakovic, Chad Fifer.
Costumes by Laura Brody.
Makeup by Andra Carlson
Special Visual Effects by Dan Novy.
Associate Producer Chris Lackey
Produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman
Photographed and Edited by David Robertson.
Directed by Andrew Leman.
An HPLHS Motion Picture

CAST: MATT FOYER, JOHN BOLEN, RALPH LUCAS, CHAD FIFER, SUSAN ZUCKER, KALAFATIC POOLE, JOHN KLEMANTASKI, JASON OWENS, D. GRISBY POLAND, DAVID MERSAULT, BARRY LYNCH, DON NOVAY.

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