Spooky Movie Festival 2014: “Call Girl of Cthulhu” reviewed

Posted by Michael Parsons on October 10, 2014 in , / No Comments


Well, the title kind of says it all. But for all its ambition as a schlocky drive-in exploitation flick/homage to author H.P. Lovecraft, “Call Girl of Cthulhu” only periodically amuses on the level to which it aspires. Feeling protracted even at a reasonable 93 minutes, the story follows virgin Carter (David Phillip Carollo), an artist who gets all googly-eyed for call girl Riley (Melissa O’Brien). Despite his sexual repression, Carter still wants to wait for “the one”; unfortunately, a cult led by evil Sebastian (Dave Gamble), who’s playing matchmaker for the amorphous deity of the title, has the same idea.

CALLGIRLOFCTHULHUREVFor audiences who’ll catch all of the Lovecraft references (a can of aerosol called “Cool Air”, for example) and/or people with a soft spot for Troma movies (one scene with a giant, um, appendage, is especially reminiscent of “Nuke ‘Em High”), there’ll be plenty of bloody gratification. For the rest of you, it might just look like someone blowing up gallon after gallon of bright red paint in a latex factory that happens to be located adjacent to a strip club. The story rolls along like a sketch comedy routine in hell, as Sebastian and his crew of octopus-faced drones play process-of-elimination in the hooker community in search of the girl with right birthmark on her butt, and an unlikely team of demon fighters (Helenmary Ball and Sabrina Taylor-Smith) show up to thwart his plans by swiping the Necronomicon (the ancient book that is required to seal the unholy union).

Meanwhile, young Carter, not yet knowing of the supernatural goings-on that are turning the escorts in his town into zombies, laments his unrequited love with Riley, as it becomes apparent that roommate Erica (Nicolette le Faye), who’s just dumped scuzzy boyfriend Rick “The Dick” (Alex Mendez), has been harboring feelings for him. It’s like “Some Kind of Wonderful” if it took being locked up in a dog kennel, hacking through legions of vaguely demonic prostitutes and jousting with Jabba the Hutt for the characters to figure out they’re in love.

I’ll say this: Baltimore director Chris LaMartina, who co-wrote the film with Jimmy George (“President’s Day”) has a vision, and it belongs somewhere among the midnight movies of the ’80s and ’90s that attracted scream queens like Linea Quigley. In that vein, “Call Girl of Cthulhu” will be a fun, campy romp for some, but an absolute chore for others. Thankfully, David Phillip Carollo is well-suited for the screen on his first time out, bringing an innocent likability to a character whose demeanor would have been fitting for the lead in a TV show like “Raising Hope”. Aside from that performance and lines like “She really turns heads” cross-cut with a client having his neck broken by the object of Carter’s affection, this tongue-through-cheek horror/comedy isn’t much more than a twist on Lovecraft’s story with a few clever nods, a non-stop supply of prosthetic limbs, at least one death-by-dildo, and errant blood spray that often seems to be coming out of nowhere. Oh, and one chick with monster boobs. Literally.

Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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