Call Girl Of Cthulhu (2014)

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Oh, Horrorhound magazine, you whores

Before I watched this, I had the thought that it only existed because someone thought of a clever title – an accolade shared by “Tromeo and Juliet”, “How The West Was Fun” and many others. But as it went on it sort of won me over, a bit. There’s interesting stuff hiding behind this microscopic budget and less-than-professional acting. Well, some interesting stuff.

 

“Inspired by the writings of HP Lovecraft”.  Ah, what magnificent doublespeak! “Cramming as many Lovecraft references into one movie as possible” would have been a touch more accurate, one feels. Taking part in the framing device of being interviewed by a cop after the fact, our hero is one of the saddest sad-sacks in the movies, a fellow called Carter (David Phillip Carollo, thankfully his only acting credit). He shares a scummy apartment with Erica (Nicolette la Faye, a ray of sunshine in the acting stakes) – she’s busy making rather interesting experimental music and screwing Rick The Dick (Alex Mendez), he’s an illustrator for the local newspaper and compulsive viewer of internet porn. The porn starlet’s name, Missy Katonixx, is the first of literally hundreds of Lovecraft references – some of them so obscure that our Bad Movie Monday group didn’t spot them, most of them funny like a condom brand called Deep Ones, courtesy of Love Crafts.

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Turns out Carter is a virgin, so he decides to hire himself a prostitute, Riley (Melissa O’Brien). Her life is miserable as hell, it looks like, servicing the oddest looking and most pathetic of the town’s men – one of them, an extended cameo from George Stover, who acted in the early movies of John Waters and Don Dohler, and is therefore far too good to be in something like this. Anyway, he decides to paint her rather than have sex with her, and this…I guess?…makes her fall in love with him. The issue is, Carollo is either a truly terrible actor or he was told to play the part as wet and useless as possible – their relationship feels hollow from the beginning and never gets filled in.

 

The plot driver is a fellow who wants to summon Cthulhu through a portal into our world; taking him on are a couple of hunters who manage to steal the book and lose it again so often, it might as well be played for laughs. Carter, Riley and Erica all get sucked into this world, thanks to meetings in strip clubs and Carter being tasked with drawing a complete replica of the Necronomicon, and so on. Honestly, the actual plot of the movie is interesting – there’s plenty of interesting ideas floating around and things keep moving, by and large.

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There are two issues. The first one caused some disagreement among my friends, so I’ll give my opinion but be aware, people every bit as smart and versed in bad movie lore as I thought differently. The tone of the movie is quite light, in the most part – Rick the Dick provides strong comic relief, the wackiness of some of the references are great for Lovecraft fans, and there’s some slapstick in there too. I found that tone, mixed in with a totally typical Lovecraft story (without giving anything away, the ending is very dark) made me a little unsure of what the filmmaker was going for. Good ol HPL wasn’t known for his jokes, so just putting a bunch of them in a typical story of his leaves a bit of a disconnect, like it’s two different movies rubbing up against each other. You wouldn’t film a comedy version of “Hamlet” but leave the ending the same, would you?

 

The rest of it is that boring technical stuff. Some money was spent on it – the sets look mostly okay, there’s actual real movie lighting and the cameras obviously weren’t cheap – but it would’ve been nice if just a bit more of that money had been spent on actors. The dialogue, especially between friends, ought to flow easily, but Carollo gives the same flat, miserable performance no matter what situation he’s in, and there’s all sorts of pauses and awkward line readings where it really needs to rip along.

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As he’s the main character, the lion’s share of the blame must fall on him, but it’s not like anyone comes out of it particularly well. La Faye is fine, the pimp seems like he’s acted before, but everyone else is a rank amateur and it’s a real drag having to sit through the heavy dialogue scenes. Add in the fact the money ran out when it came to the special effects (the evil cannon fodder guys – are they wearing masks or is that supposed to be their real heads? If it’s just masks, why are they the only people whose heads explode when exposed to the music?) and it sadly can’t be called an unqualified success.

 

Writer / director Chris LaMartina has been around for a while, which I think shows on the technical side. While I think the problems went beyond this in a lot of ways, I would like someone to give him enough money to hire a decent cast, or to train him to shoot certain sorts of action better.  It was an interesting idea in search of technical expertise, I think.
Rating: thumbs in the middle

 

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