I recently had the pleasure of reviewing The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu. I even made the spouse watch it with me. When we started the DVD, we were a little concerned. One or two of the trailers for some of the other Dark Sky Films offerings were not up to par. These movies could have been made intentionally to look ‘bad,’ but we began to think that our feature film might be of the same quality.
We were very glad that was not the case. In fact, I think we have just discovered a new cult favorite. I am a big fan of campy horror movies and this movie was reminiscent of the Evil Dead series and especially Army of Darkness. Click here to view the trailer for The Last Lovecraft.
Bored office drone Jeff (Kyle Davis, Friday the 13th) is informed by a mysterious elderly professor that he is the last living descendant of H.P. Lovecraft, the revered author of such horror/fantasy classics as The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Re-Animator and the Cthulhu Mythos stories. Jeff is thus the only person who can prevent a race of evil creatures (drawn from Lovecraft’s imagination) from wreaking havoc. The mild-mannered Jeff must protect an ancient relic and prevent it from falling into the clutches of the monsters, which would bring about the release of all-powerful evil known as Cthulhu. Jeff enlists the aid of his co-worker Charlie (screenwriter and producer, Devin McGinn, Bones) and a husky Lovecraft aficionado, Paul (Barak Hardley, Greek), and together they put their slacker lives on hold to embark on an icky and hilarious mission to save the world. Along the way, they get some help from an a sea captain with a fish-boy son – and discover that Lovecraft’s horrific monsters, including a T-shirt-wearing reptile man, are far from fictional.
There is a good deal of talent incorporated in this film. Devin McGinn pulls triple duty as the screenwriter, producer and co-star. I was able to catch up with him for a few questions below.
GeekDad: Are you fans of H.P. Lovecraft? What made you want to make a Lovecraft inspired movie?
Devin McGinn: Very much so. I remember someone handing me At the Mountains of Madness and saying you have to read this, he’s the forefather of modern horror. Turns out he was right. Some of his stories can be a tough read because they were written so very long ago. But the concepts, the terror and philosophy at the heart of his stories are still so relevant today. That amazed me, and I was hooked.
GD: Where did the idea of integrating comics come from?
DM: I knew in the beginning I wanted my character Charlie to have the dream of being a comic book artist and a comic collector. That was going to afford us the ability to show things we could have never done practically on our budget. The retelling of the Cthulhu mythos/At the Mountains of Madness was a great way to catch up those unfamiliar with this universe and the animated version was the most entertaining way to do it within our means. Besides, I was determined to have Cthulhu rip apart a T. Rex in the film one way or another.
GD: Any plans to release some of the comics shown in the movie?
DM: I get asked this question all the time. I think we are seeing a resurgence of all things Lovecraft in many forms of media and that includes comics. I think a Last Lovecraft series would be a lot of fun in that format. We have actually been approached by a few respected comic publishers about that very thing. I think it will come down to if the movie becomes the cult classic I’m hoping for. It’s so much easier to get something like that off the ground, when a company can say, “Hey, this is a no-brainer, look at the audience we have from this little movie.” But, yeah, I would love to do it…
GD: It is left open for a sequel; any plans already?
DM: I actually have a treatment prepared for a second movie. I always imagined it as a trilogy. I know if we sell a certain number of units, our distributor may be interested in funding a second film. However, the money would have to be there. I had to make a lot of concessions due to our budget constraints and I wouldn’t want to do that again to such a degree. I mean, hell, the second movie starts at the Mountains of Madness for goodness’ sakes!
GD: How hard was it to write, produce and star in your own creation?
DM: Actually, it was quite difficult and not something I would endorse or recommend. Certainly not on your own dime. On one hand you have so much creative control and that is a wonderful freeing feeling. But on the other side of the coin I remember so many takes delivering my lines as Charlie, and thinking about a thousand other things that needed to be done or things that were going wrong. As an actor you just know that all that extra stuff is affecting the performance and not in a beneficial way. Again that has a lot to do with having quite a bit of personal money involved and it’s like if this all goes wrong it’s not just an ego bruising. This is going to affect my livelihood. All that said, it was an amazing learning process and I wouldn’t change it.
GD: What is the story behind the unicorn t-shirt?
DM: I just loved the idea that our main bad guy who was this badass ended up stuck wearing this crazy shirt through the whole movie. It’s like when the Terminator is naked and kills that first guy and scores himself a sweet Leather Jacket and a pair of shades. Unfortunately for Star Spawn his first kill was an out of work dude who happen to be wearing a shirt with a unicorn, holding machine guns and wearing a kilt on it. When I came up with the shirt concept and saw the finished design (drawn by the director) it just seemed so funny to me. I’m still not sure people even realize where he got the shirt actually (the guy on the boat) but, what the heck, I figure it’s kind of funny either way.
GD: There seemed to be a natural camaraderie; were you already friends? Do you share the same interests?
DM: Kyle who plays Jeff is one of my best friends. When I was writing it, it was always for him. We met working as actors on a commercial and just hit it off. We actually don’t have much in common other than what we do for a living. He loves sports and isn’t really into the whole geek culture. I on the other hand love all of those things. Comics, creatures, video games, etc. So what you saw was pretty true to form. I love the fantastic and otherworldly and Kyle is kind of a Jerk. Just kidding, buddy. Kind of. As far as Barak who plays Paul we had also met working. We were shooting this campaign with Shaun White and they were filming the whole thing as if it were a television pilot. Long scenes and lots of improv. So again when I sat down to write, it was always with Barak in mind. Plus he looks like Zack Galifiniakis and that has to be worth something right?
GD: The creatures looked great. What is the secret behind such great Lovecraft creations?
DM: When the director and I sat down and designed the creatures together we new we wanted two distinct feelings. Humor and a more legitimate creep factor. I think the sucker fish man who attacks the window and the Deep Ones are good examples of that. When you see Sucker Man, you’re like, hey, that looks pretty cool but I bet I could take that thing. The Deep Ones, however, hopefully feel more like legitimate predators. You think, yeah, I would definitely run away from those things and fear for my life. That was important to me, that we represented some of these creatures in a legitimate way. If you were to look back at the Lovecraft stories they would fit. Even though our human characters are silly and useless some of these creatures really felt true to the Mythos. Star Spawn was also meant to feel intimidating but there is that shirt. Aside from that, our fx team just did a fantastic job with the time and budget they were given. I’m also a huge fan of going practical when you don’t have a ton of money. We actually would have had less CG tentacles, but it was so cold when we shot in the desert they actually froze into useless octopus Popsicles!
GD: Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
DM: Even if you’re a die hard Lovecraft fan who thinks mixing comedy and Cthulhu would be frowned upon by the Elder Gods, you should give the film a shot. Yes, it’s a comedy/buddy film also, but I think it will be clear it was made by a true Lovecraft fan. Anyone can get a pack of beer and enjoy it with their friends (which I fully endorse by the way) but the true Lovecraft fan will spot many references to Lovecraft’s body of work sprinkled throughout the film. Also if you read this far, thanks so much. As I’m sure people are thinking, who the hell is Devin McGinn!