Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Call of Cthulhu: Review

So, I finished "The Call of Cthulhu" last night. This short story by H. P. Lovecraft is my first story for this year's Dueling Monsters Challenge--hosted by Heather at 30+...A Lifetime of Books (The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells) and Softdrink at Fizzy Thoughts (Lovecraft). And the goal is to decide which is the biggest nightmare.

I'm sorry, Softdrink, but I just wasn't that scared of Cthulhu. I felt like Lovecraft was trying way too hard to give us the creeping heebie-jeebies. He spent a lot of time talking up the atmosphere. Telling us how horrible the dreams of Wilcox were; how horrified Legrasse and his policemen were when they went out into the swamp to find the cult of Cthulhu; describing the frenzied dance; and relating Johansen's awful experience on the island. Yes, Cthulhu did arise--slobbering in "gelatinous green immensity"--and attack six men. Ooooh. How horrible. Sounds like they were killed by a giant mound of jello.

He tried to make the deaths of Professor Angell and seaman Johansen sound all mysterious and maybe like Cthulhu had somehow taken revenge on them for knowing too much. But I wasn't convinced and I certainly didn't feel the dread I was supposed to about what Cthulhu might be up to. He's sleeping on his island waiting for the stars to be right again. Well, okay. Maybe he needs to find a creepier jello mold to pattern himself for next time.

I'm not a big fan of horror and suspense so I was a little leery of reading this "Weird Tale" before going to sleep...but I can tell you, after staying up late to finish the story last night, I didn't have any bad dreams. No slobbering masses of green gelatin came slithering out to eat me up. I didn't even dream that I was eating jello. I'm afraid that The Island of Dr. Moreau is going to have to be really tame for me to vote for Cthulhu for the win.


JLS Hall said...

Yes, I feel that way about most of Lovecraft's work. I like it, but it definitely leaves me wanting something more. The Island of Dr. Moreau is much better written and I enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I'll be interested to see what you think.

J F Norris said...

Somehow I can always manage to slip into these worlds as if I were living in the 1920s. I think a lot of people who aren't fans of Lovecraft tend to see it exactly like you, Bev. The Blob, that old Steve McQueen monster movie, is not that scary to us these days, is it? It's kind of laughable. There are a handful of truly original stories in the "Lovecraft Mythos" and in the realm of the horror novel he really had a unique vision. Sorry it's not your thing. When compared to Wells' genetic experiments in ...Dr. Moreau it's easy to see how that book can be far more terrifying to modern audiences especially with all of WW2 behind us.

Bev Hankins said...

@John: I think part of it is my age as well. I read a Lovecraft collection when I was a preteen-teenager and was thoroughly creeped out by him.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I felt the same way. Not that it'll stop my from declaring my dude the winner. :-D