Blu-ray Review: Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom

In the age before the internet, H.P. Lovecraft was the writer you discovered deep into high school when a trusting friend would slide you an worn paperback anthology featuring “Call of Cthulhu” and “The Dunwich Horror” short stories. He’s let you know this was the good stuff. Knowing about Dracula, Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe was easy. They became class assignments. But your junior high English teacher wasn’t ready to dip into the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos. The teachers either weren’t that cool or feared a parents rebellion about assigning “Satanic literature.” What is a parent to do if they wants to introduce Lovecraft to their kid without making them read a book without pictures? Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom finally gives this literary legend’s creatures a chance to compete with Monster High.

On a gloomy night, Howard Lovecraft (Kiefer O’Reilly) gets taken by his mother to visit dad in the nearby Arkham Sanitarium. Howard’s a sullen looking child who doesn’t like visiting the scary place. Dad has quite a few issues since he’s gone completely mad. Dr. West (Sound of Music‘s Christopher Plummer) describe’s the father’s mind as “a shattered looking glass.” When he meets his father, the old man warns him that someone is coming. The poor boy just wants to be loved, but dad is fanatical in his warning to do not listen and do not read Necronomicon. He begs for the kid to destroy it. This is put to the test when mom decides to let Howard see the book his dad had been working on: the Necromonicon. Does the son do exactly as dad requested? Of course not. That would make this a really short film. Instead Howard gets sucked into reading his father’s words until he opens up a portal to another world. He awakens in a frozen land full of bizarre creatures. He saves the life of a Deep One, Thu Thu Hmong which is like a flying lizard with an octopus hanging from his mouth. This is good as Howard isn’t a completely welcomed guest in this strange land.

Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom is a fun film for fans of horror and Lovecraft stories. The script and imagery touches upon the author’s work without getting completely too grotesque for kids who can handle Nightmare Before Christmas. The references include having Howard’s father resemble Edgar Allan Poe. The animation resembles 3D CGI characters you’d create for a videogame which is fine. There’s no need for a Lovecraftian story to have the budget of Pixar’s latest opus. What matters is that this does feel like Lovecraft universe modeled for younger fans and enjoyed by older readers who only wish this had been created 20 years ago. The snowy world of the Frozen Kingdom makes it perfect for Christmas viewing as well as Halloween fun.

The video is 1.78 anamorphic. The CGI animation comes through cleanly in the 1080p transfer. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA that allows the bumps to come from all corners of your room. There’s also a 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix for just the right and left. The movie is subtitled.

DVD with all the features of the Blu-ray.

Director’s Commentary with Sean Patrick O’Reilly covers how he brought Lovecraft to everybody.

Behind the Scenes Featurette (3:36) has footage of Oscar winning Christopher Plummer, Jane Curtain (Saturday Night Live), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) and Doug Bradley (Hellraiser‘s Pinhead) in front of the microphone. They talk about how the movie was adapted from a graphic novel series.

Trailer (1:13) explains how little Howard Lovecraft gets given the Necronomicon as bedtime reading.

Shout! Factory presents Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom. Directed by: Sean Patrick O’Reilly. Screenplay by: Sean Patrick O’Reilly. Starring: Christopher Plummer, Jane Curtain, Ron Perlman, Doug Bradley. Running Time: 83 minutes. Rated: PG. Released: September 27, 2016.

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