Directed by Henry Saine
Distributed by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is undoubtedly amongst the crown jewels of any horror fan’s beloved literature, and while we’ve been treated to many a serious take on the material over the years (none more notable than the works of the venerable Stuart Gordon), outright comedic filtrations have been… scarce. Not anymore, though, with the arrival of Henry Saine and Devin McGinn’s The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu.
The story is simple: A cult of Cthulhu’s followers, led by the monstrous Starspawn (Ethan Wilde), has obtained one half of a key to the underwater prison of the Elder God himself – the city of R’lyeh. The other half, held by the professors of the Miskatonic University, is entrusted to the sole living descendant of Lovecraft himself – average Joe office worker Jeff (Kyle Davis). Forced to go on the run accompanied by his geeky friend Charlie (Devin McGinn) and Lovecraft uber-nerd Paul (Barak Hardley), Jeff seeks out the legendary Captain Olaf (Gregg Lawrence), who may be able to help them defeat the Starspawn and prevent the apocalyptic awakening of Cthulhu.
It’s a good, basic story populated by entertaining characters and a through-the-roof level of Lovecraft geek love, but the execution leaves The Last Lovecraft sorely lacking. Occasionally awkward direction and frequently poor editing serve to rob many of the comedic set pieces of any effect whatsoever, relegating even the simplest of pratfalls to illicit groans rather than sniggers. McGinn’s script attempts to emulate much of the quick fire, off-kilter dialogue stylings of Kevin Smith; however, the players and visuals prove almost utterly unable to meet the all-important beats of comic timing, leaving exchanges of dialogue feeling awkward and forced and events that should be funny simply falling redundant.
When it gets it right, though, The Last Lovecraft gets it right. The laughs that hit, hit hard – for example, a sucker-faced creature attaching to a car window and Paul’s approach to combat training in the event of confronting an Old One. The highlight of the flick comes in the form of the aforementioned Captain Olaf and his frank discussion with the boys regarding the horrors of being raped by a fish. The circumstances surrounding the progeny of this mating, his half Deep One son, Gary, are just brilliantly funny. Coupled with some colourful and imaginative animated sequences (and a final shot that just almost makes it into holler-out-loud great territory), the film delivers frequent, frustrating glimpses at something far, far better than it ultimately is.
For the low budget the practical effects are quite impressive, especially the animatronic Deep Ones, though the big bad Starspawn looks like a rejected makeup test from a poor episode of “Charmed”. The less said about the digital effects, the better, though the fully CG sequences at the gates of R’lyeh are atmospheric and well presented.
Frustration is the word of the day here. A huge amount of love for the source material leaks from every scene, which makes it really difficult to dislike, but The Last Lovecraft too often falls into half-cocked attempts at sheer stupidity that only manage to avoid insulting that which it loves so much by a hair’s breadth. Coupled with comedy that misses far more than it manages to hit, it becomes very difficult to make it through the almost stagnant second act – and at a brief 78-minute runtime, that’s not good at all.
Still, it’ll be difficult to stop just about any Lovecraft fan from giving this one a go, but expectations should be kept suitably low. The inevitable belly laughs garnered from Olaf and Gary may prove enough to justify the time spent, but only just. Here’s hoping Saine and McGinn work to refine their skills in the arena of comedy on celluloid for the sequel promised in the final frames – there’s some definite promise on show here, but as a complete package it’s off the mark.
Save for some really nifty animated menus, Kaleidoscope’s UK DVD release of The Last Lovecraft is also way off the mark in comparison to the US release – having no special features whatsoever.
2 out of 5
0 out of 5