“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.” - H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
Directed by Andrew Leman
Runtime: 47 minutes
Time for madness, strange cults, stranger works of art and academics going insane. Today review is the silent black and white film The Call of Cthulhu. Brought to you by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
The film opens in the most fitting place for a Lovecraft film, in a sanitarium. The Man (played by Matt Foyer) tells The Listener (played by John Bolen) to destroy some notes that The Man inherited from his great uncle. This leads into first of the three stories that makes up The Call of Cthulhu.
The first story is the notes The Man's great uncle took about a young man named Henry Wilcox (play by Chad Fifer). Henry is having strange and odd dreams that lead him to create a odd clay sculpture. These events lead to Henry becoming ill from these dreams and then forgetting all about the dreams.
Story number two has The Man's great uncle at 1908 archaeologist convention. While at the convention he meets Inspector Legrasse (played by David Mersault) from New Orleans. Legrasse has with him a strange statue he found while raiding a weird cult gathering and wants to know if anyone at the convention can tell him more about it. The collected archaeologists know a little bit more about the statue and the cult it is from but not enough to satisfy Legrasse's questions.
The Man stumbles upon the third story while carrying out his job as an geologist. One of the rocks he is looking at is wrapped in a newspaper from New Zealand. It has a story about a derelict fishing ship and a half crazed survivor. So The Man takes off at once for New Zealand to speak to this survivor only to find that the survivor has gone to Norway. Arriving in Norway The Man finds that the survivor has died and left a journal of his account.
Somewhere off the New Zealand coast the fishing ship Alert comes across a small uncharted island. Being a brave and adventurous fishermen decide to explore the island. Unfortunately for the crew of Alert they have stumbled upon the island of R'lyeh home to Cthulhu. Two of the sailors live long enough to return to the ship. One dies of fright on learning Cthulhu is chasing the ship. The only survivor rams the ship into Cthulhu forcing it to go back to sleep.
Make or Break: What makes this movie for me is the silent black and white filming. It makes it feel the same as reading the stories. As for breaks it would have to be the misquoting of the original work. This is a minor thing and really the only misstep they made.
MVT: Again the whole atmosphere created by the black and white filming. It provides shadows to add suggestion to the imagination and captures the feel of the story.