The Call of Cthulhu is a 2005 independent silent film adaptation of the H. P. Lovecraft short story The Call of Cthulhu, produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman and distributed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. It is the first film adaptation of the famous Lovecraft story, and uses Mythoscope, a blend of vintage and modern filming techniques intended to produce the look of a 1920s-era film. The film is a length of a featurette.
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 and taken over by Emma's crew after a violent confrontation 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.
Early on in production, Branney and Leman decided to film it as a black-and-white silent film. The official site says this was done to show what the film would have looked like had it been made in 1926, when the story was first published. In the DVD commentary the producers admit that shooting in black and white provided many other benefits. When using black-and-white cinematography, a filmmaker does not need to pay particular attention to the materials and decoration of sets, as the colors will not appear in the final product.
The Call of Cthulhu has been selected to appear at numerous film festivals, including the 2006 Slamdance Film Festival and North America's largest, the 2006 Seattle International Film Festival, where it sold out both screenings thanks in part to a glowing review from The Stranger, a local paper.
Despite the long-standing conventional wisdom that this story was inherently "unfilmable", the film garnered mostly positive reception from genre reviewers. It holds 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Paul di Filippo of Science Fiction Weekly went so far as to call it "the best HPL adaptation to date," labeling the decision to adapt it as a silent film "a brilliant conceit."
In their book Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft, Andrew Migliore and John Strysik write: "The Call of Cthulhu is a landmark adaptation that calls out to all Lovecraftian film fanatics — from its silent film form, its excellent cast, its direction, and its wonderful musical score ... this is Cthulhuian cinema that Howard would have loved."
The Call of Cthulhu received various awards, including:
- Best Feature at Eerie Horror Film Festival (2006)
- Prix Tournage for the Best American Movie at 23rd Avignon Film Festival (2006)
- Audience Choice at Another Hole in the Head (2006)
- Vuze Audience Favorites Winner (2007/2008)
- The Call of Cthulhu - an HPLHS Motion Picture. cthulhulives.org. Retrieved on 15 April 2015.
- Sundance: The Good, Bad and Ugly
- Syfy. Syfy. Retrieved on 15 April 2015.
- Andrew Migliore & John Strysik, Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft, Night Shade Books, February 1, 2006, ISBN 978-1892389350
- Event Report: Eerie Horror Fest 2006!. Dread Central. Retrieved on 15 April 2015.
- 23rd Avignon Film Festival awards. fest21.com. Retrieved on 15 April 2015.
- Another Hole in the Head. sfindie.com. Retrieved on 15 April 2015.
- Cinequest film festival