Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The 254th review overall!
I had a good weekend and it was nice to follow it up with going to the park with the family and letting Lincoln walk around in the grass and swing on the swings. He loved it. When we got home, we watched the Packers nearly blow it and checked out...
Howard Lovecraft and the Kingdom of Madness (2018). Amazon Prime.
First thing you should know, this is the last movie in a trilogy. I had no idea that fact until I read the wikipedia page. I guess that explains what was going on with all the flashbacks that contained a lot of necessary information that I didn’t really understand at the time. The other thing you should know, my last job I had an hour commute both ways, annoyed with the radio, I really got into audiobooks and podcasts. Because Becca got me the board game “Mountains of Madness” based on an H.P. Lovecraft novella (love the game), I got interested and downloaded a collection of his writings. He is definitely a person you have to separate the art from the artist and it turns a lot of people off when looking at his work through a 2019 lens.
One thing you can’t take away, the man was unbelievably creative and had an incredible imagination. His stories deal with madness and another world with only a thin curtain separating it, and to even contemplate it can drive you insane. Plus, in one of his stories the main character is actually from Earth’s Greatest City! He practically created the “Weird Fiction” genre and some of his stuff is so good. The fact that his biggest creation, Cthulhu, still lives in today’s pop culture is pretty impressive for a guy that really wasn’t all that appreciated in his own time.
It’s an animated film where the animation is definitely not its strong suit, but to its credit, it has one hell of a cast. The voice actors include Jeffrey Combs (who starred as Herbert West in the live action version of the Lovecraft story Re-Animator) as Lovecraft, Finn Wolfhard plays Herbert West, Mark Hamill as Dr. Henry Armitage, Christopher Plummer is the narrator and plays Jeffrey West and finally Doug Bradley (of Pinhead fame) plays a priest of Cthulhu. Like I said, the casting was top notch.
Young Lovecraft is a practitioner of the dark arts, over the course of three movies, he’s gotten pretty good, too good. Because magic isn’t stable, and because he’s using it too much the barrier between our world and the others is becoming increasingly thin. Someone who claims to be H.P.’s Uncle Randolph shows up just before Hell breaks loose. After fighting off some monsters they team up with professors from Miskatonic University to try and stop the end of the world.
Like the university I mentioned above, the movie is full of callouts to Lovecraft’s work. It made me smile hearing the names I recognized. You can tell the guy who made the movie really appreciated Lovecraft’s work. A lot of care is taken to do it right, which is and odd choice because most of his stuff isn’t kid-friendly and definitely not easy to grasp. I read an article awhile back bemoaning that fact because of Lovecraft wasn’t the best of dudes to put it nicely, but his stories were. Plus, he’s dead, long dead. His last few years were full of pain and loneliness, you can enjoy his stuff now, it’s OK.
The movie is fun and surprisingly touching. Like I mentioned, this is the final in the trilogy, so I didn’t get to see how deep H.P’s friendship with Spot went (I don’t quite know what Spot was, I think because actual Cthulhu is sleeping, Spot is like a projection maybe?), but it was cute. When Spot actually becomes Cthulhu and H.P. tries to get him to remember, it’s sweet and sad at the same time. It’s hard to make you feel bad for a giant monster that had just destroyed a planet, but I don’t know if it was because I was exhausted or what, but I teared up. Since I’m on the subject of the planet destroying, when Cthulhu shows up and annihilates a different planet, it actually shows the people on the ground! You get to see them just before and during their planet’s destruction. It’s REALLY heavy for a kid’s movie.
I like Lovecraft and am a fan of his writing, I’ll even be wearing a shirt with Cthulhu in my next video review. I also enjoyed this movie, it’s fun, Spot is adorable, the cast is great, it’s sweet and it’s a shade under 90 minutes. It does have some problems though, the animation is pretty bad at times and feel like it drags just a tiny bit. The other thing, Lovecraft’s writing had a LOT of weird languages, and they use it a lot in this movie when they’re casting spells. If you’ve never read his stuff, it’s going to sound like a gibberish, and a lot of it.