Friday, 6 November 2020

The Last Lovecraft - Relic Of Cthulhu

Cthulhu You Think You Are?

The Last Lovecraft - Relic Of Cthulhu
USA 2009 Directed by Henry Saine
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment DVD Region 2

The Last Lovecraft - Relic Of Cthulhu is a movie I bought for a couple of quid at a Film Fair, maybe ten years ago... and then promptly forgot about. However, my recent re-reading of The Complete Fiction Of H. P. Lovecraft (reviewed here) reminded me that I still had this comedy horror film to watch.

The film starts off with two pre-credits sequences, the first of which shows the Cult Of Cthulhu in Egypt, unearthing a part of a relic which is needed to be present when the Cthulhu monsters from H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories retake the Earth from humanity... something which should be happening pretty soon in the story’s timeline. The second sequence shows two guys on a fishing boat, drinking beer, being picked off by an unseen Lovecraftian fish monster, so the audience can see for themselves how deadly these creatures can be. The second guy is hoisted through a doorway and up out of shot before we see his bloody intestines dropping to the floor in a moment which is over the top enough to produce laughter, maybe, rather than horror. That’s the idea, though.

Then, after a short animated opening credits sequence which relies mostly on the tentacles of the Cthulhu creatures, we meet the film’s two main protagonists, Jeff and Charlie, played by Kyle Davis and Devin McGinn (Devin also wrote this movie). Jeff’s second name is Phillips and, it turns out, he is the last in line of the Lovecraft bloodline. He is sought out and entrusted by a guardian from the Miskatonic University to protect the second part of the relic from the Cult of Cthulhu... who are made up mostly of a telepathic tentacle monsters and a bunch of fish-men (also some humans but, you know, when the fish-men arrive they need someone to eat). Jeff has never heard of H. P. Lovecraft but Charlie is heavily into comics and explains everything he knows about Chtulhu. Then, a visit from some cult members who attack the guardian sends them on the run with the relic, where they pick up someone they used to know from high school who is a Lovecraft specialist/nerd (played by Matt Bauer) and then go on a road trip to seek out Captain Olaf, who they hear has had some experience of The Old Ones and the fish people of the Cthulhu mythos.

Now, as horror comedies go, it’s not exactly the funniest I’ve seen but it did make me laugh inside heartily a few times and I couldn’t say I wasn’t entertained by it. The film starts off really strong and, maybe dead ends itself towards the finish but... it’s got a lot of charm and I was certainly kept enthralled for the majority of its short storyline.

One of the characters is heavily into comics and is writing and drawing one... and this informs the movie a lot of times, giving it a kind of quirky, comic book sensibility. For example, there’s a lovely animated sequence near the start, when Charlie is explaining about the Cult of Cthulhu and their war with the ancient ones at the mountain of madness (yeah, if you’re a Lovecraft fan you can see the way this goes already, right?), which is quite funny and, like the rest of the film, treats the source material in a witty and irreverent way while still, in the case of this scene, giving a fairly good if overly prescriptive interpretation of the Cthulhu mythos and back story. Indeed, the film is so into bringing in a comic book feel to it that I was wondering for a while if this film had actually been based on a comic book itself, although it appears not.

This is a short review perhaps and the film itself is no masterpiece... but it is fast paced, keeps you interested and also dishes out an unexpected, often gory death, at times. The guy playing Charlie, who I confused with someone much more famous while I was watching this and didn’t realise who he wasn’t until after I’d finished the film, has got a lot of charisma and is a fun actor to watch. I don’t know why Kyle Davis got the part of the last of Lovecraft’s bloodline but I suspect his looks didn’t hurt here. He does look vaguely like some of the photos of H. P. Lovecraft you see from time to time and, like Lovecraft, he has those kind of ‘fishy eyes’ which might, if the fictional world ever collided with real life, mark him out as a native of Innsmouth from HPL’s tale The Shadow Over Innsmouth. There’s also a huge reference to this tale in the movie too but... I don’t want to put too many spoilers up.  

Indeed, apart from the occasional physical resemblance, there are a fair few references to Lovecraft in this, including a kind of epilogue scene where our protagonists end up... At The Mountains Of Madness but, unless there are some really subtle references in here I didn’t spot, there are also, I believe, elements/characters which are made up and are not native to the writings from which the movie takes its inspiration. It’s all a bit of a romp anyway and so mostly this is not really important. Also, you may remember if you read my review of The Complete Fiction Of H. P. Lovecraft that I was definitely aware of a strong streak of self-aware humour running through the ‘deadly serious’ writings of this writer on my latest read through so, I don’t think Lovecraft would have minded so much.  All in all, I’d probably recommend The Last Lovecraft - Relic Of Cthulhu to friends who are into the comedy/horror hybrid genre and, like I said, while it’s no masterpiece, it is funny and I had a fairly good time with it. The film seems to leave itself open for a possible sequel but, I shouldn’t think anyone is particularly holding their breath on this, least of all the writers and I’m guessing the epilogue sequence was there more to appease the distribution company that there could be more of these if it somehow made phenomenal amounts of money which, considering the way I found it, probably isn’t the case. A nice little movie though and something which I think some people will really get a lot out of. Maybe give it a go sometime.

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