ABSTRACT – H P LOVECRAFT – THE CALL OF CTHULHU. In The Haunter In The Dark – The H P Lovecraft Omnibus Volume Three) Harper Collins. 2000. Lovecraft was a true master of terror in the Edgar Allan Poe tradition. His monsters were the least humanised of all such entities. He was exceptionally good at describing the indescribable. The Call Of Cthulhu is his most archetypal and typical story. Many of his other works, aka, Dagon, would follow a similar premise. A barely living survivor is found from some expedition to remote regions. He is quite deranged with terror, and clutches rare artefacts. He raves of hideous pitiless creatures and speaks barely pronounceable names for them. A rational investigator recognises that the lunatic was once a sane, logical, well-respected person, so he organises his own investigation-expedition to establish why and how an imminent figure could be reduced to such a state of mind. The investigator traces the steps taken in the original expedition and perhaps inevitably meets the same fate. In the Call Of Cthulhu, the investigator is led by a string of clues, including a statue of a creature that seems part mammal, part reptile and part squid like entity, to visiting a mysterious island of impossible geometry. Like an Escher painting, direction and perspective are distorted. Up and sideways meld. Everything is at disjointed angles. Here lays Great Cthulhu, worshipped by obscure occultists as a God who sleeps in death, but soon to awaken and devour humanity. The hero sees the creature starting to rise up.
His own fragile mind begins to snap. Lovecraft regularly returns to the theme that sane people in a rational age know that no monsters exist; so actually seeing such phenomena crushes our grip on reality and plunges us into abject lunacy and terror. If we really saw giant sentient squid beings, we would go stark staring mad. That is exactly what happens to the hero of The Call Of Cthulhu. Philosophy, reason and religion mean nothing to his aliens, who simply see humanity as prey. Lovecraft’s monsters are not humanised vampires – they are monstrous in all respects, and utterly alien to any comprehending logic that we might throw before them. The Call Of Cthulhu has given its name to monsters in many of Lovecraft’s stories, and his work is often collectively n referred to as The Cthulhu Mythos. Other horror authors have subsequently penned their own Cthulhu stories to expand on that mythos. . Only the one story actually puts Cthulhu himself at centre stage though, The hero ends up as deranged as the man who’s sorry fate he tried to investigate. The Call Of Cthulhu went on to spawn a role-playing game and countless imitations. It remains deservedly one of the greatest, most influential horror stories of all time.