So last year at some point my wife forwarded me a trailer for a movie named CTHULHU. I was excited, even though I knew it would suck. I mean, aside from Stuart Gordon’s DAGON and John Carpenter’s IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS there really are no movies based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Olde Ones that succeed in any way at all. Sure, Lovecraft has infiltrated and influenced the horror genre for all time to come (i.e. The Necronomicon is the basis for how many horror stories, including the much-beloved Evil Dead series) but actual adaptations, well… let’s just say Guillermo del Toro seems to be the only thing on the horizon, backwards or forwards in time (with considerations to the aforementioned exceptions) that has me curious.

But then here’s this little indie flick, N’yarlahotep help us with Tori ‘my face could stop a clock’ Spelling* in it and you know what? I didn’t hate it.

Cthulhu is the story of a guy named Russ who learns his mother has died so he has to leave his life in the big city and return to the sleepy little Pacific Northwest town from whence he came for the service. Of course we find out the whole town is part of a Dagon cult, led by his father, who frown on Russ’ gay lifestyle. Cthulhu seems to be to some degree, Lovecraft re-imagined at least partly as a gay drama in that we get the whole ‘my father does not approve of my lifestyle’ thing. Only in this case it’s not necessarily because Russ’ father is a short-sighted bigot, it’s because if Russ is gay he can never have sex with someone as obviously demon-spawned as old Rocky Dennis-faced Spelling and thus bring about the chosen one who will re-awaken Cthulhu, etc. etc. etc.

So my attitude seems a bit cavalier you say. What was it exactly that I liked about this flick?

If you’ve read a lot of Lovecraft then you know that rarely do the stories actually contain the monsterous heirs to the Earth, The Olde Ones. Most of H.P.’s stories revolve around the spooky and evil ways in which the people in out of the way places who worship these beings go about trying to appease and awaken their dark lords. Grant Cogswell and Dan Gildark (writer and director) understand this aspect of Lovecraft’s stories that all too often gets lost within the call of the Hollywood monster fetish that has arisen since the advent of CGI. In fact it struck me while watching this flick that the creators quite possibly understood the nuance and mechanics of Lovecraft’s storytelling better than any one else I’ve ever seen try to adapt or continue his Mythos on screen. With no budget and thus no chance in hell of even a CG monster even as basic as the one in the end of Dagon these first-time filmmakers went back to H.P.’s basics and crafted a town where people stalk around on the beach in robes and manipulate outsiders from the shadows. This gives the film, despite whatever shortcomings it has (and it has them) a very authentic Lovecraft feel, as if plucked from the man’s Mythos instead of continuing on down the line of being influenced by the add-ons that have embraced and thickened it since.

Another interesting thing here is the commentary, which Cogswell and Gildark host, because as it begins they basically fess up to the shortcomings and failures of their film and set out to give indie filmmakers lessons based in what they have learned – a kind of ‘do’s and don’t do’s’ list to try and help fellow first-timers. I found this level of ownership pretty damn charming and although I have not had a chance to finish the commentary yet I am looking forward to doing so, even if just to hear what they have to say about working with Sabre-face.

A ‘C’ maybe overall, but I gotta go with a strong B+ for effort. To Grant and Dan I say I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys do next.