CTHULHU Movies Reviews

howard … CTHULHU …

CTHULHU: "SNOW-MEN?" HOWARD: “Haven’t you ever built asnowman before?”.

CTHULHU: “NOPE.”. CTHULHU: “MORE PLAY!”. So… it’s Cthulhu… but for kids… “The word is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.”. But here’s a question for you: what do H P Lovecraft and wireless earbuds have in common? Nothing. Except they’re both in this article. 

*SCREAMS*. Oh yeah, now we get to talk about this. *SCREAMS*. If you’ve been watching me a while, you’ll know that I’ve become quite interested in H P Lovecraft over the last few months. Some would say too interested. And no, I will *not* take thisoff. This is who I am now. Oh yeah.

You like this little guy? Check the article description or stick around to the end to find out how you can get one. Lovecraft was responsible for some of the most influential horror stories ever written. Some of his works had… considerablyless merit than others…. But his unironic embrace of gamer words aside, he’spretty much the progenitor of cosmic horror, which derives its scare factor from the powerlessness of mankind in the face of overwhelming eldritch terrors. Including his most famous creation, the h*ntai patriarch himself, Cthulhu. And just as Lovecraft’s works have exerted enormous influence on horror fiction, so to have they inspired cinema. Whether it be indirectly through such horror masterpieces as John Carpenter’s The Thing, Cult classics like Event Horizon. Or shallow spectables like Annihilation.

Or even through direct adaptations of his works. Of which there are simply toomany to go through. On the one hand you have the good ones, such as the classic Reanimator, and more recently, Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, in which Nicolas Cage’s penchant for overacting actually works with the material, rather than against it.

And on the other hand, you have

Utter shite like the thing on the doorstep which deserves to be buried as far beneath the ocean as cthulhu himself.

And then there are some movies that take Lovecraft’s creations, and then do stuff with them that’s so weird and inappropriate that it makes you wonder what unfathomable horror had driven them mad enough to think it was a good idea. As is the case with Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, an animated movie that tells the story of a young Howard Lovecraft and his wacky adventures in the Cthulhu mythos. Ah yes, that beloved children’s author, Howard Philips Lovecraft! *laugh*. Responsible for such cuddly characters as the Shoggoth, Shub-N*ggurath, and the Dunwich Horror.

Wait, why did you censor that? Most children’s books teach good values like sharing and empathy and going the f*ck to sleep. These lessons usually don’t include. MADNESS-INDUCING EXISTENTIAL DREAD UPON BEING CONFRONTED WITH MANKIND’S. INSIGNIFICANT PLACE IN A VAST AND UNCARING COSMOS! Although 2020 has made that lesson somewhat more appropriate But seriously, if you make Lovecraft your kid’s bedtime reading, they will turn out like Lovecraft when they get older. And that’s not a good thing! He was a very weird guy! But children are clearly the target audience here. “Are you father Dagon?”. Adult fans of Lovecraft are going to hate this, because the idea of taking this haunting material and turning it into a Saturday morning cartoon is just so bizarre that it’s hard not to get insulted on H. P.’s behalf.

That dislike bar though, holy shit…. To be fair, the movie is based on graphic novel of the same name, and when you look at the artwork it definitely gives off more of a horror vibe. So what happened to that? Oh yeah, Garry’s mod couldn’t handle it!! This looks like something that came out during the early Ps2 era, but no, it’s from 2016. Idid have to double check. Yeah, even if you can get over how ridiculous and sacrilegious the premiseis, the movie is still terrible! As you’ve probably already noticed, everything is bland and ugly, and it looks like they were either using an incredibly basic engine, or putting in no effort. If you want an example, despite the film being set in a snow-covered land, characters leave no marks in the snow. Does make it easy to slap the same texture on everything and call it a day though. Animations are awkward and stiff, and syncing mouth movements to the dialogue is barely achieved.

“Our fate rests in the hands of one child.”. And occasionally the lips don’t even move at all. “Ew.” “Ew!”. The character designs look grotesque. It’s as ifthey were trying to emulate HenrySelick but without the talent, resulting in what resembles a bargain-bin Coraline. All this is a testament to the film’s incredibly low budget, which I wasn’t able to find specific information on, but I’m assuming that it was equal to the amount of money Lovecraft ever made from his writings. Because it has the presentation and production values of a junior school play. Something tells me that this was a passionproject of writer/director/producer SeanO’Reilly, who also owns the publisher of the graphic novels, Arcana Studios.

Something also tell me that he wrote his Wikipedia article himself, but don’t tell him I said that. Such enthusiasm would explain why half of the characters are voiced by his own family members, a sure sign of quality if ever there was one. And I'm not exaggerating! The cast list has fewer last names than a village in Alabama! “Hey kids, do you wanna be in Daddy’s movie?” IMAGINARY KIDS: “No….” “Well then, I guess *somebody* wants to say hello to Mr Belt!”. Unsurprisingly, the voice acting is dreadful. “Davik! Stay away from him!”.

Sometimes it sounds like the actors recorded

Their lines in different rooms or at different times, or weren’t given the same direction, so their dialogue is robotic and conversations don’t feel natural.

“I’ll help you, Sarah!” “I just worry.

He’s always been anodd child.

That imagination of his…”. The quality of these recordings can also… vary somewhat. “Tell me Howard, are you afraid of the dark? Because my darkness has no fear of you!”. Howard’s voice in particular doesn’t fit his character and his actor is totally unconvincing in the role. “DO NOT READ!” “Father…” “I’m just not sure what the door was for. Keeping me out, or keeping something in.” “I miss my parents. I wanna go home.”. The film touts Ron Perlman and Christopher Plummer’s membership in the cast.

And yes, they are in it. For about 2 minutes each! Presumably the lowest amount they could afford to pay them for that also justified putting their name on the box. O’Reilly himself voices Spot. Now, Spot is….. Spot is Cthulhu. But after a lobotomy. They’ve taken one of Lovecraft’s most iconic characters, whose return from his slumber beneath the ocean heralds the doom of mankind… and turned him into a moronic lapdog. I mean how else were they ever going to make him appropriate for kids? But then we’re just back to asking… how this is any of this appropriate? If you have to change it this much so that you don’t scare the sh*t out of the kids, is it even still worth it? “Sarah, this is Cthulhu.

Cthulhu, Sarah. Cthulhu here eats reality, Sarah once ate a whole chicken. I watched, it was amazing!”. As it tries blend Lovecraftian horror with family-friendly adventure, it struggles to the point of having an identity crisis, so the tone is all over the place, going from 0 to 100 even from one line to the next. “I will see my friends. And I will go back to R’yleh.” “For there, the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance, combine to form the perfection of the hideous.”. CRAAAAAAWLING IIIIIN MY S-. Some of the dialogue is very reminiscent of - or in some cases directly taken from -.

Lovecraft’s works, with its archaic, intellectual prose. Which *is* cool, but these lines feel completely out of place with the rest of the script, which is really dumb. “What’s a shoggoth?” “It is a terrible, indescribable thing.” “A shapeless conjuries of protoplasmic bubbles with myriads of temporary eyes forming and unforming! Quite nasty.” “Ew.”. Yeah, okay, is that all you have to say in response to that description?! Despite the movie only being 80 minutes, it’s padded out so much that it feels twice that long. And you might be thinking “how could they pad out a movie this short?”. Well, by making everything… take… longer… than… it… needs… to So naturally, the pacing is godawful. If you trimmed all the fat, you’d be left with about 45 minutes, max. So you’d only be bored for about half the time.

And just remember the target audience here! Do theyreally expect *kids* to sit through these drawn out scenes? I’ll skip over a lot of the content just for the sake of time, andtrust me, you won’t be missing out on much.

But there are enough moments of hilarity

To be had to justify taking a deeper look.

The movie pretty much gives zero f*cks from the get-go, as young Howard gets taken by his mother to visit his father in an insane asylum for his dad’s birthday. His father was indeed committed to an asylum when he was but a young nipper. Soyeah, this is true to life But this is meant for kids! Christopher Plumber’s character Dr West tells them that his father is too ill and seeing him could damage Howard, but then a minute later completely changes his mind. “A little fatherly fear never hurt anyone. I hear a lot of writers are made that way, in fact.”. Yeah let’s f*ck the kid up.

He’ll be a starving artist one day, it’s fine His father raves about occult stuff, before grabbing him through the bars, while the mother and doctor don’t notice because they’ve wandered off, or more likely just don’t care. “Swear you’ll destroy it! Cthulhu can not awake!”. H-Happy birthday, dad…. If this first scene hasn’t convinced you that thisfilm should not be used as a substitute for babysitting…. I- I dunno man, I can’t help you. Howard complains that he can’t sleep, so his mother decides to give him his father’s journal as bedtime reading. Which reads like a typical Lovecraft story, full of forbidden knowledge and twisted horrors. And this is *after* a conversation with her mother-in-law about how Howard’s father was curious as a child and got into some dark sh*t that contributed to his madness! You are such a terrible parent….

Howard accidentally opens a portal and… not even falls through, he just disappears. And after falling through a tunnel of mountain dew piss, he ends up in the titular frozen kingdom. Where he gets attacked by idiot Cthulhu. Somehow managing to outrun him, because f*ck the laws of physics. Cthulhu falls down a hole, Howard agrees to help him out if he promises not to hurt him. And this frail, sickly little boy manages to lift the weight of this massive lump of eldritch meat, because… f*ck the laws of physics! So “Tutu-Hamon”, or “Spot” as Howard condescendingly calls him, swears to be his slave. It was really *that* easy to tame the great squid. “Spot” takes Howard to the house of some creatures who I think are meant to be Deep Ones.

Yeah, those nasty fish people from The Shadow over Innsmouth who interbreed with humans to create freaky hybrids and demand sacrifices? They’re now the Squid Kids. And they wear hats. Their awkward conversations that go on far too long. Because we absolutely have to see them talk about food and other irrelevant sh*t for 2 minutes. Not to mention the infants failed attempts to be charming. They also explain how Howard can talk to them. “We share what we call a L’nath. It kinda means… "'transmission', would be the rightword.

We can speak without speaking.”. But apart from Spot, all of them are shown to be speaking throughout the movie, so that doesn’t make any sense. But she tells Howard that his father has been to this land before, and in delicate terms, the experience f*cked him up.

That night Howard has a dream about

A castle, so in the morning he asks spot to take him there.

They both talk about how sad and

Lonely they are, which leads to - and i wish i was joking -.

Howard teaching Cthulhu how to build a snowman. Uh, where the f*ck did he get the scarf and carrot from? They also have a snowball fight, parodying spaghetti western showdowns. Followed by another movie reference that the kids are *sure* to get.

“Dodge This!”. Nah, he should be dead. Or at the very least severely mangled. Then he plays hide and seek with Cthulhu, like every child wants to! I can’t stress how utterly bizzare thisall is! None of it contributes anythingto the plot and it goes on for like seven minutes! Now at the halfway point of the movie, they arrive at the castle of R’lyeh. Approaching the castle, they get surrounded by these bat things, which I’m fairly sure was their attempt to emulate the Minions. God knows this movie needed *more* cancer! There’s an after-credits scene of them just messing about, which further justifies my belief. Spot f*cks one of them up, but after the playdoughGoblins threaten and knock outHoward, they get taken prisoner. They escape very easily - making this capture completely pointless.

The lead henchman - who just like in a JRPG turns out to be the real villain eventually - apologises and invites them for anaudience with his master, Queen Algid Bunk. She tells him how the kingdom of R’lyeh came to be frozen. Things were all hunky-dory, until evil spread to the point where Cthulhu came and sunk the whole city, turning it into a sushi farm. The people essentially decided to nuke their own kingdom by freezing it, banishing Cthulhu in the process. This animation is actually better to look at the rest of the film, and if it had been a fan project uploaded to , I’d have said it was a decent job. Howard’s father rediscovered the runes that were used to freeze the kingdom, and wrote them into three books, one of which was stolen by a Shoggoth. King Abdul Al-Hazred - who was the author of the Necronomicon in Lovecraft’s universe - prophesised that a boy would come to save them. And for lack of any other options, she thinks it’s him.

Thinking it’ll help him get home, Howard agrees to retrieve the book. All but forcing Spot to go with him. After sulking like a little bitch, Spot takes him to the mountains where he believes the book can be found. Spot can’t fit through, so Howard carries on alone. He slides down a spiralling sh*t tunnel, at the end of which he finds both the book and the Shoggoth, voiced by a very bored-sounding Ron Perlman. SHOGGOTH: "Hmmm, Lovecraft this name is known to me.". The Shoggoth, who is called Shoggoth, which is kinda weird but okay, says that he gave Howard’s father occult knowledge so that he could spread his evil words and facilitate the rise of the Deep Ones. And reveals to Howard that Spot is Cthulhu, the Destroyer of Worlds, who needs only to be awakened from his lobotomised state.

Spot comes to the rescue and… you’ve just got to see this. *Spot yelling* “NOOOOO!”. I couldn’t have made that better if I tried. How is little Howard going to get out of this, you wonder? Well j*st fucking watch… “AH THE ELDER SIGN! NOOOO!”. Again, there’s nothing I could add. It speaks for itself. Howard shows Spot the Elder Sign, like a total idiot, and almost falls to his death.

*Almost*, unfortunately.

They give the book to Algid, and she immediately betrays Howard, just as Spot warned that she might. This could still have been even minutely surprising if they hadn’t told us she was the bad guy in an awkwardly-placed cutaway scene five minutes ago! Rather than immediately going apesh*t - like he obviously can do -. Spot just stands there while she summons more minions and completes a long chant to take control of him. And by long, I mean it takes over a full minute. Algid delivers a villain’s monologue, because of course she does, revealing that she is in fact Abdul Al-Hazred. And I can’t help but find it funny that they whitewashed one of the only important minority characters in the Cthulhu mythos. And who else conveniently shows up to save Howard than the Shark Tale rejects! The bat things proving how utterly useless they are. After a fight sequence that I’m sure was meant to be epic, but more closely resembles a toddler’s playtime.

Howard opens up a portal back to his room, but refuses to abandon his friends. They’re all surrounded, but Howard uses the Elder sign to obliterate them all. Algid unironically does the “This isn’t even my final form” meme. “This is not my final form. I shall return!”. And then f*cks off. HOMER SIMPSON - “Spider Pig! Spider-Pig!”. The fish brother who until now was mute, speaks for the first and only time, and of course none of this is ever explained.

After some goodbyes, with the inappropriately cuddly Eldritch beings, Howard returns home. They visit his father in the Asylum again, and show him the book. Dad somehow immediately knows that Howard has closed the portal to R’lyeh, although we’ve not seen him do any such thing. The doctor also starts to believe in the mythos, with absolutely no evidence. And the dad can now apparently get better, which completely misses the point of how insanity works in Lovecraft’s stories, but this is a kid’s movie so we have to have a happy ending! As Howard pledges to return to R’lyeh and discover the secrets of his father’s writings. Is this a happy ending though? The ending narration is still kinda f*cked up for a children’s film. “Solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance…”. Like, what kind of tone is this to end on? But of course, the journey did notend there.

Because the following year,they made a sequel. HowardLovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom. I don’t know who would want to watch this after sitting through the first one, but they made it anyway, the absolute mad lads! At first I thought it was going to be like Bioshock, but bad. So like Bioshock 2. Undersea Kingdom goes into the lore a bit more, introducing beings like Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, and Dagon. Rather than trying to pad the movie out, this time it felt like they were trying to fit too much in. It has less filler than Frozen Kingdom, but there are more plot points over the still-short runtime that it was actually hard to keep up. Or maybe I was just too bored to pay attention at this point, I dunno.

And if you haven’t seen the first movie, you won’t have a single clue as to what the hell is going on.

Undersea Kingdom looks even cheaper, if that was possible.

With visuals being noticeably worse.

At least the voice acting is a bit better, if only because the O’Reilly family has far less screentime. Ron Perlman and Christopher Plummer “return” for this one. I say return because Plummer has only 5 lines while Perlman has basically none. And I’m not convinced that they didn’t just chop up and recycle the noises he made in the first movie. Which makes it even more mindboggling that he’s given *THE* TOP BILLING ON THIS! Not gonna lie, that feels a bit like a scam.

This time they’re joined by Mark Hamill as Dr Henry Armitage, in his second-most disappointing role this decade. It’s funny to make that comparison actually, since here he also acts as a reluctant and pessimistic mentor figure, teaching Howard the arcane arts. As such, he’s actually a major character, not a 2-minute cameo. I guess *his* fee was more negotiable. This is meant to be the same Dr Armitage, by the way, who just barely managed to banish the Dunwich Horror. Well here he’s a master Kung-thulhu. Things really do start to get a bit silly in this one. In Undersea Kingdom, Howard has to recover the last of his father’s journals in order to combine them to make the Necronomicon and save his parents and Spot from the bad guys.

I won’t go through it in much detail because it honestly doesn’t deserve it. But highlights include: The return of Al-Hazred from the first film. Now a man, but still white. And the henchman, but with an unbearably sh*tty Kylo Ren voice filter. “My father will not tolerate your failure a second time.”. Howard and his mother developing the InnsmouthLook. You know, like Scalies, but slimier. The villains describing Howard as a “mental midget.” “Some mental midget-” “That *mental midget”…”.

Howard getting slapped. The father’s insane dialogue. “LET’S GET DIRTY!” *Laughs maniacally*. Howard’s weird and borderline sociopathic response to his mother being imprisoned on a distant planet. “They have your mother on Yugoth!” “Huh?” “A distant planet, Master Howard.” “Ladeedah!”. Their weird attempts to make that his catchphrase. “Ladeedah!”. A rip-off of the “Jehovah” scene from Indiana Jones.

A sky that looks like a botched lasagna. Spot getting dominated, again. Dagon appearing out of literally nowhere to save Howard. And the gang then blinking out of existence. No seriously, just watch! One second they’re there, and then they’re all gone! Oh wait, Dagon’s there again now.

What the f*ck….

And there’s another happy ending, before Howard is greeted by his older self right at the end. Oh yes, they sequel-baited.

Because we’re *still* not done! There’s a third movie. 2018’s Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness. Do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same sh*t over and over and expecting a different result! They must have been scrapping the bottom of the piggy bank at this point, because the third movie looks EVEN worse! The characters look even *more* plastic-y, and it’s dangerously close to Foodfight-levels of ugly.

I noticed a lot more animation errors and glitches in this one. As well as considerably more shots that can only be described as grotesque. The voice acting is still terrible. "I love you, son. I can't tell you what it means to me to have the whole family together under one roof.".

And Howard’s performance has declined considerably. "Yugoth is destroyed. And Spot Cthulhu is coming here, to destroy Earth.". Ron Perlman is out, but voicing the older Lovecraft is Jeffrey Combs, who played Herbert West in Reanimator. Which is pretty cool. And he does a good job for the most part. But then there’s stuff like this. *SCOTTISH*.

And I thought my accents were bad The premise of Kingdom of Madness is that Howard’s use of magic is breaking down the barriers between dimensions, and if he continues, evils will spill over and destroy the Earth. So he teams up with a bunch of other Lovecraft-style intellectuals for a kindof. Avengers Assemble, Endgame, thing… but with book nerds. In this film even more than theothers, you can see how they failed to find a balance between dumbing it down so that the kids can enjoy it, while still being sophisticated enough to dojustice to Lovecraft. Becauseit doesn’t manage to do either. Again, I’m not spending too long on this, because f*ck it. But it does havea few choice moments, such as: The Indian character having a Vietnam War-style flashback using footage from World War 2, in a film set in 1898…. Yeah….

This shot. The fact that even after two movies, the father still hasn’t taken off his goddamn straight jacket. Christopher Plummer’s character briefly going full Mad Scientist, and then being punched in the face. This shot. And that face. Unintentional pro gamer moves. *Unintentional gamer word*.

Howard getting slapped again.


And Nyarlathotep’s reveal, spoiled by him looking

Like an inside-out colon.

The movie does, however, get much, much darker going into its latter half. For the first time in the series, things become kinda scary and more reflective of the *horrific* side of cosmic horror. It’s like were saving all their creativity and vision until now. Although even this only lasts for about 5 minutes. After Spot gets turned into Cthulhu - for realthis time - he nukes Dagon’s planet along with all the fish people. The older Lovecraft reveals his true identity and his plan to make a deal with Nyarlathotep in order to go back in time and possess young Howard in order to stop the Elder Gods from destroying the Earth. The very thing that he…just… enabled… them… to do….

But he stops because - and I canbarely believe that I’m not makingthis up - he remembers that his mommy loved him! It really is a "MARTHA!" Moment. They head to R’lyeh to rally all their friends, by which I mean the Squid Kids and useless bat things. And they use their magic finger blasting to defeat the evil minions. HERBERT WEST - “For the Earth!”. Oh yeah, that happens. Then Nyarlathotep, Cthulhu and Azathoth show up. And you know how it’s a pretty big deal in Lovecraft that even the mere sight of these inconceivable deities is enough to drive a person irrevocably insane? Yeah, they kinda forgot about that. Howard guilt trips Cthulhu and defeats him through the power of love.

And again, I’m not joking! Cthulhu bitch-slaps Nyarlathotep out of the movie. And then kills himself. Everyone goes home, and we have another mostly-happy ending with no psychological damage. Then in an after-credits scene, Howard brings Cthulhu back as a sickly-looking baby. Just when I thought these movies couldn’t get more ridiculous, they turn Cthulhu into a funko pop. Although that is a pretty accurate metaphor for these films, to be honest. Are the Howard Lovecraft movies and graphic novels meant to be a celebration of Lovecraft, or a way to introduce his works to a younger audience? Because I still can’t quite fathom the idea of basing children’s stories on such niche, intense, depressing, and quite obviously adult subject matter. Like, can you imagine some kid watching these movies andgetting really excited about reading Lovecraft, and then reading the grotesque body horror of the Colour out of Space or the Dunwich Horror? It’d be worse than Sunday school kids going home and reading the worst parts of the bible! But an even better reason not to watch these with your kids is that they’re boring and terrible and won’t hold their attention longer than it takes for them to stick a crayon up their nose.

Just put on some of those Elsa-Spiderman cartoons. I heard they’re good…. But for those of us old enough to get that joke, I’d say Frozen Kingdom definitely falls into the so-bad-its-good category, both for it’s premise and it’s execution. So give it a watch if you can. I can't really recommend the sequels though. By that point, the “what the f*ck” factor of the premise has worn off and there isn’t enough unintentional hilarity to make up for their being total dogsh*t. The only future sequel I’dbe prepared to watch would be. Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Wakanda.

*Laughs*. Oh, somebody please make that a thing! As Lovecraft is becoming more widely known, I’m hoping there’ll be more good movies based on his works. But of course, there will be more bad movies.

Maybe I’ll take a look at this

One one day.

And yes, this is real. But that’s a story for another day.

Well if you want a cuddly little Cynical of your own, to do unspeakable things do, head over to my page on Makeship. We’ve been working on these for a while and I’m really happy with how they've turned out. The campaign for this limited edition plushie only lasts for another 3 weeks, and we have to sell at least 400 of these bad boys for them to get made. And I really wanna get one for my mum.