Long before Cthulhu became a Web meme about the ultimate doom of the world we know, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS) was well at work bringing life to the works of the master of strange horror.
The HPLHS just released their film, “The Whisperer in Darkness,” after five years of work. The film recounts the tale by H.P. Lovecraft, following professor Albert Wilmarth as he investigates legends of terrifying creatures in the remote hills of Vermont. The film has an interesting approach, however, using the same film style used in the 1930s when the story was written.
“By 1931, films now had sync sound, so a more traditional length and story structure was in order,” said Sean Branney, an original founder of the HPLHS, via e-mail.
Branney said he and the team “thought it would be fun to use our same Mythoscope aesthetic conceit to imagine what it would have been like if the story had been made into a movie that year.”
This was a similar approach they took with their hit 2005 film, “The Call of Cthulhu.” They made it into a silent film, as if it were made in 1926 when Lovecraft wrote the tale. Although the film lacks modern ingredients like CGI and, well, voice acting, it is hailed as the best adaptation of the famous tale.
“There’s something about Lovecraft’s archaic prose that lends itself to a vintage treatment,” Branney said. “Working in the silent film format certainly does stir audiences’ imaginations as they must imagine a whole world of sound that accompanies the on-screen images.”
“The Whisperer in Darkness” may build on this success, with its 1930s film style, which their website says “returns us to the golden age of movies for a thrilling adventure of supernatural horror,” when films including “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” hit the silver screen.
Branney said the films “have a lush visual aesthetic which I think is largely why they are some of the best-remembered and most beloved movies of the 30s.”
“The sci-fi aspect really came from Lovecraft, not us. His story involves aliens, strange machinery, and he takes these early sci-fi ideas and blends them into a story of suspense and old-fashioned horror,” he said.
They eventually started creating audio tales and short films of Lovecraft’s stories. This led to their filming of “The Call of Cthulhu,” which put them on the map as one of the world’s best creators of media inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
Branney said now that “The Whispers in Darkness” is finally finished, “We have a number of excellent ideas that had to be pushed to the back burner during those years.”
“Those ideas will come back and include another set of four 1930s-style radio dramas and a couple of additional motion pictures,” he said.
(Images courtesy of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)