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Cthulhu DVD Review: Lovecraft Lives In Haunting Dirge

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With a title nearly impossible to pronounce and even less likely to spell correctly, Cthulhu is an equally enigmatic though affectionate and masterfully macabre nod to H.P. Lovecraft flights of freakish fantasy on the page. First time director Dan Gildark has an astonishing, visually potent sense of just how those sorts of haunting, surreal landscapes and nightmarish internal mindscapes can merge to effectively transport viewers to multiple chilling alternative realities.

Jason Cottle is Russell Marsh in Ctulhu, a moody gay Seattle professor who returns to his long estranged patrician family and boyhood town of Rivermouth on the remote coast of Oregon, when he learns that his mother has passed away. Clearly at odds with his harsh and peculiar father Reverend Marsh (Dennis Kleinsmith) who turns up in a purple jumpsuit at Mom's wake, Russell does his best to avoid family gatherings during his hopefully short stay. Instead, he wanders around town, visiting old haunts that dredge up distant memories morphing into frightening occult encounters.

And apparently no ordinary reverend, Dad heads a secretive New Age doomsday cult called Esoteric Order of Dago, which terrified locals fear may be linked to the disappearance of many of the residents. The followers are also reported to worship a supernatural amphibian human creature known as Cthulhu.

While escalating reports of the ongoing disintegration of the planet, including sightings of Eskimo terrorists, are casually broadcast on radio and television, Russell intermittently butts heads with ghosts and other seriously creepy entities. He also takes time out to consummate a potential romance only intimated decades ago with a boyhood pal who is now divorced. And while Tori Spelling who plays an aggressively seductive babe with the hots for Russell and a wheelchair-ridden invalid spouse, chases him all around town until she corners the gay dude and rapes him.

Cthulhu is far scarier than it sounds, and the filmmaker effectively locks down a literally captive audience. And though the emotional interludes between the characters unnecessarily drag and distract at times, the eerie images of the mystical, tempestuous Oregon coast are both stunning and nerve shredding for the entire bewitching duration.

Ryko Distribution
Rated R
3 stars

DVD Features: Text/Photo Galleries; Trailers.

Prairie Miller is a multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio. Contact her through NewsBlaze.

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