Cthulhu Mythos Movies Done Right
(My series on Silent Hill 2 is on hold at the moment, but it’ll return soon with part 746 of 982).
Since movies became the dominate form of entertainment, nearly everything is either being considered for a movie, or was turned into a movie. Some IPs are easier to adapt for the screen than others though. Movies need action, visuals , loads of dialogue, and a cinematic universe with at least 36 interconnecting movies.
The IP that keeps getting the rawest of the rawest deals is the Cthulhu Mythos. The reasons are obvious, the Cthulhu Mythos is low on action, aggressively interior, has almost no dialogue, with indescribable horrors as antagonists.
Nine times out of ten, the movie makers decide against a faithful adaptation and go with a milieu that kinda-sorta has the same ideas and concepts, movies like The Thing and In The Mouth of Madness (great movies both) exemplify this.
It got so bad for the Mythos that Lovecraft’s work was considered un-filmable. That is until a LARP-ing group called The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society decided to make a faithful adaption of The Call of Cthulhu—as a silent film.
And by all the sleeping Great Old Ones, it worked. It’s a damn fine film that really captures the feel of the original story while remaining faithful to the original story. It’s a wonderful little movie everyone should see.
Technology being what it is, and with the vast growth of movie making tech in the past decade the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society decided to embrace it. Their next film, The Whisperer In Darkness, is a talky, with all the audible dialogue your ears can pig out on.
I love old noir and B&W horror movies, and the attention to detail to recreate the feel of the old school movies is astounding. Even the CGI in the film looks like the janky practical effects of yesteryear (purposeful or not, it works).
The Whisperer in Darkness, though, is not nearly as strong a story as The Call of Cthulhu. There’s a lot of good things about the story, and it’s the first instance of the Brain-in-a-Jar trope, but as movie? Eh. Don’t get me wrong. The movie is fantastic, it’s an absolutely blast from beginning until the last five minutes where the crappy, crappy ending derails everything.
That’s my main problem with the movie. The ending. It’s the usual bullshit horror ending that everyone does and then acts like they’re being all unique and horror-y by doing said BS ending. I’m not entirely sure why they went with this one rather than something with a clearer, audience-satisfying ending like The Dunwich Horror (I just really want a B&W Dulwich Horror, damnit.) However, it’s still a great movie, and I love, love, love the HPLHS ensemble of Matt Foyer, Barry Lynch, and Andrew Leman.
If you love the Mythos, you need to see this double feature of picture shows. It is possible to adapt the Cthulhu Mythos for the screen. You just have to get old school with it.
You can find The Call of Cthulhu silent film and The Whisperer in Darkness talkie at the Historical Society’s store. Check them out now.
Great post, man! Love both of these movies. It’s tough stretching some of HPL’s short stories into a full movie, and I agree the ending of WiD was kind of weak. But the film did a great job of building tension, and I loved it. On a related note–I LOVE The Dunwich Horror. I have the soundtrack and listen to it while writing. So freaking good.
They have a soundtrack for The Dunwich Horror? Where do I get it?