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Cthulhoid Celluloid
July 20, 2006 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Cthulhu: The Movie. Filmed not in Providence, but on the other side of the country in Astoria. Starring nobody I've ever heard of. Featuring a cameo by Tori Spelling. Given that previous attempts over the last forty or so to capture Lovecraft's mythos on film have been more miss than hit, all these signs point to yet another missed mark. But I must confess ... the last tracking shot over the water in the trailer compels me.
posted by grabbingsand (69 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
i soo shouldve gone to be a fish person, i missed the try outs, damnit!
posted by beachgrrlmusic at 10:50 AM on July 20, 2006


It's so sad to see high quality production matched with really crappy acting.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:51 AM on July 20, 2006


I thought the destruction of the world sequence in Hellboy, with huge tentacles hanging down from the sky, was the closest onscreen representation of the Elder Gods I have ever seen.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:53 AM on July 20, 2006


For my money, the best Lovecraftian movie so far is In the Mouth of Madness. It tries to cast itself as more Steven Kingian, I'm not sure why, it's definitely Lovecraft-inspired.

I'm interested in seeing this Cthulhu film, especially because of the leftist bent, which is particularly odd considering Lovecraft's own political views. Assuming it manages to see the light of day. Ever. Anywhere.
posted by gurple at 10:55 AM on July 20, 2006


I thought the silent film fan version was pretty good. Really, everyone should probably just give it up.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 10:56 AM on July 20, 2006


Lovecraft seems like he ought to make for good movies, but the strengths and weaknesses of his writing do not bear this out. So much of what he did depended on the unseen and unutterable, and of dense, verbose, archaic prose describing just how unseeen and unutterable it all was. Unless you're going to make an elliptical or willfully silly version of his writing, there isn't going to be much point in tromping around with a bunch of tentacles.

Squids aren't scary. Enormous god-squids who sleep in dreamless sleep beneath the Pacific are scary.

...

On the other hand, In The Mouth of Madness rocks. Carpenter did a great job of paying tribute to the Lovecraftian aspects while also making it into a Carpenter flick.

And there's a hilarious part in the awful Necronomicon where there's a fishman in a big floppy hat.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:07 AM on July 20, 2006


DAGON. hard to say much more than that. highly recommended.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2006


Looks like it's based on the Shadow over Innsmouth.
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh my god it ate my super long comment.

Here it is again in shorthand:

This movie looks generic and it doesn't seem to be skimping on the

Dagon was good and when I was a teenager I thought Necronomicon was good too. I might have a different opinion these days.

People once said Alien was like a lovecraft story but I saw Aliens first so i couldn't see that.

I had a film teacher that showed us a scene from Carl Dryer's Joan of Arc where Joan's captors are tormenting her. Dryer blatantly violated the 180 degree rule along with some strange framing so that instead you got isolated impressions, fragments and it gave you more of an experience.

I want more filmmakers to do stuff like that! Give us more attempts at non-euclidian geometry and phrases no man could hear! I dont want fishy reptiles that look like the Creature from the Hentai Lagoon, I want things that make me squirm in terror.

Sadly, nothing really comes close.
posted by Brainy at 11:13 AM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Lovecraft's "Dreams in the Witch House" got what I thought was an excellent adaptation in the Showtime series "Masters of Horror." It's on DVD now, and worth checking out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:18 AM on July 20, 2006


Oh, that silent film version that pantsOFSCIENCE mentioned looks amazing. I saw the trailer a long time ago and at first, thought this post was talking about that one.

Thanks for reminding me of that, my credit card is calling me....
posted by Brainy at 11:20 AM on July 20, 2006


Is it wrong of me to want to get a summer blockbuster-style Bruckheimerian flick with Cthulhu rising from the Atlantic in full-on CGI glory and laying waste to the entirety of the east coast?

I mean, that trailer didn't even have a tentacle grasping a pylon at the end as a teaser.
posted by Durhey at 11:23 AM on July 20, 2006


Lovecraftian Music Video:

Sheena is a Parasite


(via boingboing)
posted by empath at 11:24 AM on July 20, 2006


Tori Spelling makes a perfect Deep One.
posted by ryoshu at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2006



Is it wrong of me to want to get a summer blockbuster-style Bruckheimerian flick with Cthulhu rising from the Atlantic in full-on CGI glory and laying waste to the entirety of the east coast?
just as wrong as waiting for Cthulhu On A Plane
posted by bl1nk at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2006


The older matters which had made the sculptor's dream and bas-relief so significant to my uncle formed the subject of the second half of his long manuscript. Once before, it appears, Professor Angell had seen the hellish outlines of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over the unknown hieroglyphics, and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered only as "Tori Spelling"
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:26 AM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


"...had seen the hellish outlines of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over the unknown hieroglyphics, and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered only as "Tori Spelling"

Nice.
posted by MikeMc at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2006


Wow, that trailer (direct link) looks pretty good.
posted by Nelson at 11:39 AM on July 20, 2006


PantsofScience has this one, hands down. The silent version of "Call of C'thulhu" will be the definitive version for quite some time.
Even though it's fan-built, by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, it shows more forethought, more invention, more passion than any other.
I saw it on the big screen last October, and loved every minute of it.

Highly recommend you buy a DVD copy of it at their website and support their efforts. Heck, even the soundtrack is hecka cool.
posted by willmize at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2006


i was actually quite disturbed by one scene in the trailer. when you briefly glimpse a blonde wearing a bra, straddling someone, i thought "whoa, she's hot!" seconds later it's tori spelling. excuse me while i go reenact the shower scene from the crying game.
posted by andywolf at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2006


Looks lame.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2006


Filmed not in Providence, but on the other side of the country in Astoria.

That's ok, they're already filming another horrific looking movie there.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:56 AM on July 20, 2006


It found it squamous and rugose.
posted by F Mackenzie at 12:03 PM on July 20, 2006 [2 favorites]


I liked the 1994 Necronomicon. That last story in the film scared the bejesus out of me.

There's a gaming troupe that goes around NJ and nationwide running cthulhu larps. Google "PST Productions" to learn more. Their dedication to the source material and spirit of the game is excellent. Really made a couple of the players freak the hell out at some of the more frightening moments, especially when we were using the fog and laser machines in conjuction with our psychic powers to open gateways to bad bad places.

And their production values are better than some of those films - picture a 30' x 30' aztec temple made of PVC pipe, sheet scenery and folding tables, filled with all sorts of mythosesque stuff. We even had to use hand mirrors to bounce a beam of light from an evil statue over to the door of the evil temple so we could get in and see all the evil stuff inside. I forget what movie that is ripped off from.

Though I spent most of my time in the PVC cantina drinking cervesas and tequila. And the guy playing the tentacle monster was spot-on.
posted by illuminatus at 12:06 PM on July 20, 2006


Unnamed eldritch horror from the deep.
posted by sourwookie at 12:09 PM on July 20, 2006


I also have the silent fan-made The Call of Cthulhu. I didn't think Cthulhu himself was very scary, because of the technique they used, but the overall feel is great. It was a very good choice to make it a silent film.
posted by jiawen at 12:17 PM on July 20, 2006


There are actually a few really excellent Lovecraftian films that haven't been mentioned yet and very few people are aware of them.

The Resurrected, based on the Case of Charles Dexter Ward


Malefique, a french horror film about four prisoners who discover a tome of black magic and decide to use it to escape.

Dreams of The Witch House, also based on a H.P. Lovecraft story.

posted by clockworkjoe at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2006


The silent version is brilliant, is large part because they attempted to make it a period silent film, too, working within the limitations of the era. It's quite an accomplishment.

Also, Creature from the Hentai Lagoon made me laugh. The phrase, that is, not the creature.
posted by mkhall at 12:26 PM on July 20, 2006


empath thanks for the link to Wikisource. I had forgotten it had exisited and I'm finally reading Call of Cthulu for the first time. Thanks.
posted by daHIFI at 12:36 PM on July 20, 2006


empath thanks for the link to Wikisource. I had forgotten it had exisited and I'm finally reading Call of Cthulu for the first time. Thanks.
posted by daHIFI at 12:36 PM on July 20, 2006


The Calls of Cthulhu.
posted by GuyZero at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2006


I suspect you could get away with a psychodrama, something along the lines of Blair Witch (not Blair Witch-ish of course, but something where the horror isn’t directly seen) and the internal struggles to remain sane, avoid mad dispair, corruption, etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2006


Callgirl of Cthulhu (NSF Mortals)
posted by Dean King at 12:53 PM on July 20, 2006


Ha, that silent version looks great! A pity it's not on Netflix.
posted by painquale at 1:10 PM on July 20, 2006


I remember liking King's "Crouch End" when I read it years and years ago. Saw the TNT version the other week and man was it lamed up. Banjo put it best when she noted that she was spooked by the show up until the Giant Monster showed up. Creepy kids, mysteriously empty town, feral bikers? Spooky. Poorly animated Thing From The Manhole? Blech.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:11 PM on July 20, 2006


The camera work in that trailer is poo. I'd be screaming at the screen in 10 mins. Will avoid.
posted by dobbs at 1:11 PM on July 20, 2006


Now come on. Didn't we just see a Deep One in Pirates of the Carribean 2? That was my immediate first thought when I saw squidface.
posted by Talanvor at 1:15 PM on July 20, 2006


Prank Call of Cthulhu
posted by banshee at 1:16 PM on July 20, 2006


I feel very sad that they used music from Peter Gabriel's "Passion" for this piece of dreck. I -love- Lovecraft and this is... this is just sad, is what this is.
posted by Rubber Soul at 1:19 PM on July 20, 2006


Ia! Ia! Tori fthagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Tori B'verly wgah'nagl fhtagn!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:21 PM on July 20, 2006


Rubber Soul, I can't think of an irony more delicious than the soundtrack of a Cthulhu trailer coming from a Christ film. Old Ones vs. Dead Gods, fight!
posted by Nelson at 1:35 PM on July 20, 2006



posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2006


From gurple’s link:
“Like many others, we believe this agenda is being pursued by those who live among us innocuously, but whose actions promote sprawl, pollution, climate change and war. We’re also into the gay stuff, so there’s some of that as well.”

Those damned incomprehensible extradimensional alien Gods who despite having no interest in humanity at all and will wipe us out without even noticing us are in league with suburban developers Ftagn! (you know Lovecraft was all about the gay stuff and the six beer theory and homoerotic wrestling too, perhaps it's the Tori Spelling influence)

Hey gang! Let’s micronize our imaginations to restrict unspeakable horrors and celestial existential nihilism into the political and social paradigms we don’t agree with!
posted by Smedleyman at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2006


Cast A Deadly Spell isn't much of a horror, but it's an enjoyable movie based on the Lovecraft mythos. Best movie I've seen with Fred Ward.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2006



posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2006 [2 favorites]


Looks rather more like a rehashing of The Wicker Man.

Thanks for all the nifty links to other films. Didn't know there were so many Lovecraftian flicks out there. I'll have to check them out.

Slight derail: While I agree with the consensus about Tori Spelling, she was actually pretty good in The House of Yes. Well, at least she didnt embarrass herself. The film is so self-absorbed and pretentious anyway that she fit right in.
posted by elendil71 at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2006


I'm with gurple in the opinion that In the Mouth of Madness was an excellent Lovecraftian movie. That said, I do appreciate their list of movies they enjoy.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:17 PM on July 20, 2006


Illuminatus, who were you in PST Wildcard game? I was one of the Sandusky 7 6. The one who got killed during the mirror fracas and then brought back as a zombie.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2006


Who you gonna call? (PDF)
posted by growli at 2:37 PM on July 20, 2006


I'm an old Lovecraft fan myself, and I really enjoyed the comic book adaptation of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by Jason Thompson. His B/W drawings captured well the feeling of the dream realm, methinks.

Anyhoo, his drawings were later (somewhat to my surprise, I'll admit) used for a movie adaptation, which I found to be much more effective (in a minimalist, low-budget way) than SFX jobs that quickly become dated.
posted by bouvin at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2006


Slight derail: While I agree with the consensus about Tori Spelling, she was actually pretty good in The House of Yes. Well, at least she didnt embarrass herself. The film is so self-absorbed and pretentious anyway that she fit right in.

I thought she was pretty good in Trick, too. But then again, I was pretty distracted at the time.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:50 PM on July 20, 2006


Deathalicious writes "It's so sad to see high quality production matched with really crappy acting."

But you need stilted dialog awkwardly delivered to make it authentically Lovecraftian, right?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:14 PM on July 20, 2006


Even though I'm itching to see the silent film, I think people should leave it alone already. Come up with your own metaphor for the grinding dread that not knowing what tomorrow will bring already!

Okay, but I'm going to try to see every movie mentioned on this discussion. *sigh*, I guess I'm part of the problem.


(Oh, and I also think 'In the Mouth of Madness' was an awesome tribute to HPL. Stop it with the rubbery squid masks! It's the unimaginable that's terrifying, not foam latex!)
posted by lumpenprole at 3:17 PM on July 20, 2006


Oh, and HPL fans should play 'Call of Cthulhu' on xbox. It's actually a pretty great adaptation of his work.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:18 PM on July 20, 2006


The HPLHS silent film was surprisingly competent; while it didn't really inspire cosmic horror, it managed pretty neat visuals and was evocative of old silent horror films like Nosferatu. This film looks like a wretched thing only tangentially Lovecraftian. The thing about Lovecraft is the cosmic horror; reality is twisted, alien and hostile, and mankind is just here as throwaway extras. It works best as HPL did it -- in the characters on the fringes of society who go insane from the horror of understanding, or who give themselves over to the inhuman (Shadow Over Innsmouth, etc). There's no sign of that sensibility here, sad to say.
posted by graymouser at 3:20 PM on July 20, 2006


I always thought the third Ghostbusters flick should be GB vs. Cthulhu. It made for a fun episode of the cartoon.
posted by steef at 3:29 PM on July 20, 2006


Y'all forgot The Dunwich Horror (then again, you may have been trying to do just that). Naked Sandra Dee in her last movie, a demonic Dean Stockwell, Gunga Din as a wizard, and Talia Shire -- when she was one of the lesser Coppolas -- eaten by the beast. This may be the worst HPL adaptation ever made, but: naked Sandra Dee. (I mean, c'mon, they sing about her in Grease.)
posted by forrest at 3:58 PM on July 20, 2006


oh wow. there's a big building a couple of blocks (cap hill, seattle) from me that has this domain painted on the side. i think they're doing something with the movie there as well. i kept meaning to look it up and now mefi has solved it.
posted by Bear at 5:30 PM on July 20, 2006


The movie looks slightly interesting, at least they name-check the right movies on the references page. The camerawork is so-so, and the acting is pretty bad at times, but the editing and production values in general look decent. I'd be interested in seeing it, I think it's probably better than most adaptations.

My personal favorites are Cast a Deadly Spell (decent, and pretty fun), In the Mouth of Madness, and I thought the Stuart Gordon Masters of Horror adaptation of Dreams in the Witch-House was decent, but that's one of my favourite Lovecraft stories, and I didn't think the adaptation was scary enough.

The worst I've seen is probably Necronomicon. I'd like to see the silent movie Call of Cthulhu, it seems interesting, but it's hard to get, I think.

It's funny that you mentioned Stephen King's Crouch End, and it's even more interesting that the place actually exists. I'd always thought it was a reference to mythical London location Hobbs End (semi-self-link, Wikipedia article mostly written by me), since both Hob and Crouch are names for the devil.

Speaking of Hobbs End, has anyone read the excellent Neil Gaiman story "A Study in Emerald", (readable in full at that link), which is, of all things, a pastiche of Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes, of all things, and in which royalty and rulers of the world in Sherlock Holmes' time are all Great Old Ones, who took over the world hundreds of years ago? It's surprisingly great. I bought the book of short stories it's in, "Shadows over Baker Street", based on liking that story, but sadly, the others in the book are not at all as good.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:33 PM on July 20, 2006


"Looks rather more like a rehashing of The Wicker Man."

We've already got one of those.
posted by Tenuki at 6:14 PM on July 20, 2006


Didn't we just see a Deep One in Pirates of the Carribean 2?

Yes. Yes we did. Also on Doctor Who, for that matter. The Deep Ones are everywhere.

Also, since someone's brought up Lovecraft pastiche, I have to recommend A Colder War, by (MetaFilter's own) Charles Stross. It has political elements to it, as one might guess from the title, but rather than being used to "restrict unspeakable horrors and celestial existential nihilism into the political and social paradigms we don’t agree with", the mundane, realistic horror of the cold war just enhances the pure nameless dread of the old ones.
posted by moss at 6:28 PM on July 20, 2006


The trailer looks campily delicious. Maybe even some genuine creepy moments, though I doubt any really scary ones.

As a fan of b-movie horror and Lovecraft, I'd love to see this movie.
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:01 PM on July 20, 2006


Another vote for Dagon -- that movie is the best Lovecraft adaptation I've seen. Here's the trailer.
posted by Stuart_R at 7:19 PM on July 20, 2006


Dagon was cheesy but fun. I actually think Dreams in the Witch-House is the best adaptation I've seen. I agree with Joakim Ziegler that it isn't as scary as the story, but they captured the dreamy strangeness of story pretty well.

Incidentally, these were both directed by Stuart Gordon, who is probably best known for Re-Animator, another Lovecraft adaptation. His latest, House of Re-Animator, looks pretty good (in theory).
posted by whir at 8:09 PM on July 20, 2006


Questions to those who have seen the movies and have played the game. ...Are they true to to stories, or do they end on a nice, happy, Hollywood note? I got into HPL at a very early age (15 or so) and was reading a lot of horror at the time, and the thing that really got me was that there was no hope of redemption. No handy object that would stop the incursion into our reality, no hero to save the day just the whole "if they don't notice you anymore, you're safe, but they're never going away." I suppose it's one of the reasons why I liked Clive Barker's "Hellraiser".... well... at least the concept behind it: There is no counter to this evil, and your god(s) can't help you. You know what I mean? I'm very much hoping that the movies and the game are similar to this central concept. From what I've read, Call of Cthulhu is the story brought to life, so it should follow the plot. *crosses fingers*

Also, Astro Zombie: I totally agree with you. That shot, and the one of the lamp that got sucked into the void and goes floating past the Eye of the Thing Entombed in Ice. very cool.

Oh, sorry, that should be:
...the void and goes floating past the living Eye of the Elder God Entombed in Ice!
heh.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:37 PM on July 20, 2006


moss: I agree, A Colder War is quite good, I like the fatalism-of-inevitable-nuclear-war redone as fatalism-of-inevitable-devouring-by-nameless-horrors a lot.

I didn't know Charles Stross was a MeFi user, that's cool. I just bought and read The Atrocity Archives, which I also quite liked (the Slashdot nerd 'net culture references were a bit thick at times, though), and which is also sort of a Lovecraft pastiche, or at least Lovecraft inspired, since the prose style is completely different.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:41 PM on July 20, 2006


The silent film looks like it's certainly worth a look. I just found it on Amazon, (US site only) so a copy should be winging its way across the Atlantic as I type.
posted by bap98189 at 3:13 AM on July 21, 2006


Frosted Hastur Charms - they’re campily delicious! F’tagn!

Zack_Replica - I’ve RPG’d Call of Chtulu. Stays fairly true.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:26 PM on July 21, 2006


Ah, that's great to know. I'll keep my eye out for them, then.
I've RPG'ed Call of Cthulhu too, many years ago which is why I was really looking forward to the latest game.
posted by Zack_Replica at 6:17 PM on July 21, 2006


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