The Call Of Cthulhu

on August 12, 2006 by Ray Greene
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A knowing recreation of silent cinema and an obsessive homage to horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" is part of a relatively recent genre: the fanboy feature. Fanboy flicks encompass everything from the new "episodes" of the original "Star Trek" TV series a gang of trekkies have been pumping out for the past few years to the shot-for-shot remake of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" that recently surfaced on the web. Their main outlets are the internet and the sci-fi convention circuit, vehicles for alternative distribution that allow fanboy filmmakers to bypass Hollywood entirely. The filmmakers themselves are generally paid not in dollars but in status among their fellow obsessives, which makes "Call of Cthulhu" truly a labor of love.

Created by a group calling itself the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, "Cthulhu" adapts one of Lovecraft's most famous tales as if it had been made into a film in the year of its publication (1926). Shot silent in the expressionist style of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and the early works of F. W. Murnau, the film details the origins of the Cthulhu cult, a nihilistic secret order dedicated to reviving a dark, ancient and flesh-eating god. Cthulhu himself makes an impressive cameo appearance thanks to inventive clay animation, and the art direction (which includes a delightful use of miniature sets) and cinematography slavishly reproduce the cinema of a far-away time. A witty score and the deadpan seriousness of the actors completes an illusion that is only partially obscured by a few contemporary haircuts and the odd modern necktie or two.

At 47 minutes, "Cthulhu" is not quite a feature but more than a short. The decision to keep it quick seems like a wise one, though, because "Cthulhu" ends well before delight in the conceit runs out. Presumably director Andrew Leman, writer Sean Branney and cinematographer David Robertson will get a well-deserved standing ovation the next time an H. P. Lovecraft convention rolls into their town. Starring Matt Foyer, Barry Lynch and the great god Cthulhu. Directed by Andrew Leman. Written by Sean Branney. Produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman. No distributor set. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 47 min

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