[dropcap size=big]”[/dropcap]Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.”
So wrote Howard Phillips Lovecraft on resubmitting Call of Cthulhu to Weird Tales.
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) penned some of the most unnerving horror tales ever.
Not Poe, nor King nor Koontz can equal Lovecraft when it comes to getting under the skin of his reader. Lovecraft wrote with one foot in this reality, albeit on shaky ground, in the Miskatonic region of New England. The other foot was planted in a realm he created for his readership, the realm of the “Old Ones”. Gur’la-ya, with its great red eyes glaring out of an immense shadow; Yorith, the Oldest Dreamer, a mammoth crystalline monster; and Lord of them all Cthulhu, a winged monstrosity half dragon, half octopus hundreds of feet high.
Film versions of Lovecraft’s works have always been dicey affairs, with some few exceptions; The Re-Animator and Dagon by Stuart Gordon, Frank Darabont’s The Mist from King’s Lovecraftian short story, and Andrew Leman’s excellent short film The Call of Cthulhu. Lovecraft presents filmmakers with some insurmountable problems. For instance, how do you represent “unworldly geometry?”
So Lovecraft is best conveyed in the written and spoken word.
The Visceral Company, founded by Drew Blakeman and Dan Spurgeon, has boldly carved out for itself the horror/sci-fi niche in the L.A. theatre scene, and have served that calling with great distinction. The current production of “The Call of Cthulhu” adds another feather to their already top-heavy war bonnet.
Adapted by Frank Blocker and directed by Spurgeon, who also had a hand in the piece’s development, “The Call of Cthulhu” manages to capture the creeping eeriness which is so essential to Lovecraft’s brand of horror. Blocker is our narrator in this tour de force solo performance who leads us down dark passages, and into strange lands as he tells of his late uncle’s forty-year obsession with the strange cult of Cthulhu.
Blocker and Spurgeon, with able assistance from Johnny Burton’s set, prop and puppet designs, evoke the world of Lovecraft’s terrors with marvelous aplomb, succeeding in bringing the evening to a chilling conclusion guaranteed to bring goose bumps to anyone whose pulse is still beating.
Blocker who captures the Lovecraft look to perfection, draws his audience further and further in the dark realms masterfully, and will supply the average theatergoer with at least two months worth of solid nightmares.
Once again the Visceral Company sends audiences home with the pace of their heartbeats quickened, and fearful glances over their shoulders.