Starring: Ron Perlman, Jane Curtain, Doug Bradley, Christopher Plummer
Written By: Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Directed By: Sean Patrick O’Reilly
Distributor/Studio: Shout Factory
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is and animated feature based upon the graphic novel of the same name and is a somewhat whimsical look at the life of horror author H.P. Lovecraft as a child. The film has a very strong Tim Burton feel to its look and style. Young Howard Lovecraft is a typically precocious child who goes to visit his father one day in a local asylum, an unfortunate true fact of Lovecraft’s actual father who would die in a mental institution. That night, Howard finds and reads from his father’s journal which is filled with mysterious signs and sigils. It opens a portal in his bedroom which whisks him off to an alternate dimension, the frozen world of R’lyeh.
He is immediately attacked by a monstrous creature that has an octopus-like head and wings…the spitting image of Cthulhu, Lovecraft’s signature character, one of the Great Old Ones, interdimensional cosmic deities who ruled the world long before man. However, after Howard helps the monster, the two become fast friends and the boy nicknames his new friend “spot”. The pair journey to the castle of Algid Bunk (Curtain) who explains that the eternal winter of the land is the result of a curse that can only be undone by locating the dreaded book of forbidden lore, The Necronomicon.
Howard and Spot now undertake a dangerous quest to retrieve the book which lies deep within caverns under a mountain and in possession of a horrific creature known as the Shoggoth (Ron Perlman). Howard and Spot have to somehow steal the book back from the creature but not everyone (or everything) is as it seems and some characters have sinister motives for wanting the Necronomicon found.
It’s a bit hard to determine who this film is geared towards. Will Lovecraft purists be taken aback at the many liberties taken with the Cthulhu Mythos and seeing these terrible creatures of lore reduced to imaginative animated versions? Or will it appeal to those who look at it from purely an entertainment perspective, not worrying about how close it is to the source material? While I have read some Lovecraft I am certainly not an expert so I place myself into the latter category.
The fact of the matter is that the film industry has a horrible track record of adapting Lovecraft’s works, releasing one bad low-budget disaster after another. Lovecraft’s works seem to intimidate any Director worth his salt to bring to the big screen. So an animated film, even one that is not based on any Lovecraft stories is still a positive.
The voice cast is quite interesting…the veterans like Perlman, Curtain, Doug Bradley as Nyarlathotep, and Christopher Plummer as the narrator are a lot of fun. Kiefer O’Reilly is a little on the stiff side playing the young Howard but he’s passable. The story tends to meander a bit in the first half of the film and I found myself nodding off at one point. The final third of the film has a much brisker pace. The main weakness of the film is its animation which simply isn’t up to the par of other modern day animated films. Its 3D animation looks dated and flat. There isn’t the depth of textures that we see even in some animated TV shows.
Still, if you’re a Lovecraft fan or fan of weird horror in general there simply isn’t a lot out there to choose from making this film a mild diversion.
Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Sean Patrick O’Reilly