guest post – Smokestack Jones

Smokestack is a buddy of mine and he is letting me repost this from his blog.

The Stars Are Sooooo Right!

I was handed a disc at my weekly gaming group by player who shares my love of the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I asked him what it was. “It’s a film of the story Call of Cthulhu by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.” I groaned a little. While I had heard of the group and visited the website (they do a series of LARPs – Live Action Role-Playing Games – inspired by Lovecraft), I’ve sat through my share of ‘fan films’ and a lot of them were a waste of my lifetime at best, eyeball-stabbingly bad at worst. So I smiled, thanked him and promised him I’d return it ASAP.

The next day, in a deep funk over the lack of creativity, I popped it in the machine, figuring this stuff will make me feel better about my artistic fumbling, mumbling something like “oh boy, here we go…”

I was stunned. Pure and simple.

It is black and white, filmed in MythoScope and runs about 47 minutes. For that time I was riveted to the screen, following the story of a man in an asylum asking his friend to burn personal papers of his and his great-uncle, an archaeologist, a tale of great evil, madness, degenerate swamp-folks, brave, doomed sailors, an unknown island which holds a dream-like city and the great cosmic being that it houses.

I was raptured by the look of the thing. Since the story takes place in 1927, it was filmed like a silent film, title-cards and all. The crisp,stark images (lovingly aged) are a wonder to behold. The performances are great, right down the line. The site of sunken R’lyeh is something right out of German Expressionism (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, anyone?) and Great Cthulhu himself is a fantastically Harryhausen-ish creation. Afterward, I was convinced that I had seen something extraordinary. This is probably the best adaption of a Lovecraft story I have ever seen, one of the greatest, truest literary adaptions I have ever seen. Not to mention a damn good tale.

I returned to the group’s website and found out that this film was two years in the making and played at Sundance where it was well received. They have also planned more films, including a feature-length one with sound.

Even if you’re not a Lovecraft fan, if you’re a student of film (especially silent film), you owe it to yourself to see this film. So go, , watch it and revel in a grand horror story made in a grand way. Oh, and while you’re at it, check out the HPLHS website. It’s a lot of fun.

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