The Call of Cthulhu (2005)
Based on 'The Call of Cthulhu'.
The film is told as a flash back from an asylum as our narrator related the tale to his doctor. As with the book the film is in 3 chapters: "The Horror in Clay",
"The Tale of Inspector Legrasse" and "The Madness from the Sea".
The first chapter: "The Horror in Clay"
On his dead bed the Narrator's Great Uncle, Professor Angell entrusts to him a key which he later finds opens a lockbox of strange manuscripts and artifacts. One of these artifacts is a small bas- relief sculpture of a tentacled, winged humanoid creature. He finds out in the manuscripts written by his Great Uncle that the sculpture is the work of Henry Anthony Wilcox, an student from Rhode Island School of Design. His works are based on the nightmarish visions he had during the month of March. During the same period, the Professor's research reveals, there were cases of weird happenings and madness around the world.
The second chapter: "The Tale of Inspector Legrasse"
In the second part of the story, "The Tale of Inspector Legrasse", Angell's notes reveal that the professor had heard the word Cthulhu and seen a similar image much earlier. At the 1908 meeting of the American Archaeological Society in St. Louis, Missouri, a New Orleans police official named John Raymond Legrasse had asked the assembled antiquarians to identify a statuette, also of a winged creature with a tentacled head, that had been captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid on a supposed voodoo meeting:
Legrasse had led a party in search of several women and children who disappeared from the backwoods community. The police stumbled upon a clearing in the swamp where hideous rites were being performed. After a fierce fight,5 cultists were killed and many police injured and 47 were taken prisoner. Legrasse interrogated a prisoner called 'Castro' and learned little of the strange Cult. They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men and it was these creatures that came and took the missing women and children. The prisoner identified the statuette as great Cthulhu, and translated the chanted phrase as "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
One of the academics queried by Legrasse, a man striking features and an eye patch, points out that he had encountered, on West Greenland coast, a similar devil cult (a flash back shows us the Professor losing an eye in an attack from one of these natives after discovering an idol in the mountains.
The third chapter: "The Madness from the Sea"
In the third part of the story, "The Madness from the Sea", our Narrator extends the inquiry into the "Cthulhu Cult" beyond what Professor Angell had discovered. He discovers by chance an article from
the Sydney Bulletin, an Australian newspaper that reported the discovery of a derelict ship in the
Pacific Ocean with only one survivor — Norwegian sailor Gustaf Johansen - also found on the ship was an idol of the now familiar Cthulhu.
Our Narrator further investigates and travels, first to New Zealand, then to Australia (where he sees
a statue retrieved from the Alert) then finally to Norway to talk to Johansen. Unfortunately on
arrival he learns of the seaman's death. However his widow gives him a manuscript written in English
that her husband left behind, the narrator learns of the crew's discovery of the uncharted island. The sailor explore the weird island which is covered in strange and alien architecture until they come across a monstrously carven portal. It is from this a huge winged and tentcled beast emerges and the
sailors fee in horror. The hostile environment kills all but two of them and they try to flee in their ship with the creature in pursuit. Realising he cannot outrun the monster, Johansen turns the ship around ramming Cthuhlu in its pulpy head. He then manages to flee from the grasp of the stunned creature. Once reaching safety, he discovers his last companion has died of fright.
All these revelations have become too much for our narrator and his sanity starts to crumble.
The film returns to the present with our narrator urging his Doctor to destroy all the evidence. The film finishes with the doctor reading a passage from one of the manuscripts:
'The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability
of the human mind to correlate all its contents...'
Probably the best and most faithful adaptation of any of Lovecraft's work. The film is done as homage to the silent films of the 20's. The process they to emulate this is extremely effective at recreating the feel of the period (they call it 'Mythoscope'). Add to this an excellent score and we get a very atmospheric and moody piece.
Despite having a budget of only $50,000 - the film has amazing costumes with great attention ot detail and set design works well and even the nightmarish architechture of Cyclopean city,R'lyeh which bring to mind the German impressionistic sets from 'The Caninet of Doctor Caligari'.
This is 47 minutes of perfect Lovecraft.
- Andrew Leman is one of the founding members of the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society.
- Chad Fifer who plays Henry Wilcox is co-creator of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast.
- Director Leman also wrote and directed a short film based on "The Statement of Randolph Carter".
The film adheres very closely to Lovecraft's story, but there are a few changes. The sailors aboard the Emma first encounter the Alert abandoned at sea, rather than crewed by Cthulhu cultists as in the original story. Additionally, the film depicts the narrator present at the time of his great-uncle's death, who dies peacefully in his sleep, rather than being summoned upon the mysterious death of his great-uncle, who was presumably killed by Cthulhu cultists in the original short story. The narrator (Matt Foyer) notes as well that Inspector Legrasse, who had directed the raid on cultists in backwoods Louisiana, had died before the narrator's investigation began.
In the original story, the narrator does not seem to end in a lunatic asylum or experience any mysterious nightmares himself.
- Professor Angell is seen reading a copy of 'The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria by W. Scott-Elliot'. The book also appears in one of the Narrator's nightmares.