Ghatanothoa, called The Lord of the Volcano, makes his first appearance in 1935 in the story Since the eons by HP Lovecraft, belongs to the bowls club of the Great Old Ones and is a semi-divine space creature so horrifying that if you look at it you are instantly petrified, as if it were a bill presented by the Brothers of Italy. In Lovecraft’s story Ghatanothoa is a bastard god who imposes human sacrifices in honor of him and if every single whim of his is not fulfilled then where he passes the grass no longer grows, dear. Lin Carter, also, in his collection of stories inspired by Lovecraftian writings The Xotic Legend Cycle, first published in 1997, added that Ghatanothoa is none other than the son of Cthulhu. And if it’s not the first time you’ve come here you will know well that the latter is the guiding spirit of some of us.
All this, Ghatanothoa, was on paper between ’35 and ’97. In 2022 and on the screen, however, Ghatanothoa is not that bad, he has the deep and calm voice of JK Simmons, it can be said that he is on a mission to save the entire universe and takes all the time necessary to explain to Wes, a hungover guy he meets (by chance?) in the filthy toilets of a gas station, that this thing of the universe that ends depends only on him. And when I say as long as it takes, I mean that in order for Wes to pronounce his name correctly Ghatanothoa asks him to grip the tip of his tongue with his fingers and slowly say “got another one”, then call himself “Ghat” for everything the rest of the movie. What a lovable prick, huh?
In short, it is a very different Ghatanothoa imagined by Rebekah And David Ian McKendryshe director, he screenwriter, wife and husband at the third film together after All the Creatures Were Stirring And Lies run in blood; a Ghatanothoa that of its literary origins maintains just the appearance, the aura of mystery, the inscrutability and being the son of a major divinity bringer of death and destruction, but otherwise it is as if the McKendrys had taken their cue from that episode of Futurama in which Bender finds himself in outer space talking to God and they veered violently towards a tense situation, before anyone thinks to make big speeches about life and the universe and everything. There is comedy in that gloriousof the excellent comedy that starts from glory that Wes will find in the hole of the wall that divides its toilet from that of Ghat which is literally a glory hole, and gradually becomes more and more cynical; but there is also – and perhaps above all – a great test of knowing how to write and shoot a low-budget horror film that intelligently parodies Lovecraftian imagery.
I did an experiment: if you show glorious to a friend without anticipating anything at all, he will find himself having the same MACCOSA printed on his face at the exact moment in which the protagonist also has it. But don’t worry, then at the end of the vision he will thank you, because in glorious there’s everything we ask of the cinema we like, from dick jokes to blood rain. Plus, there’s Lovecraft. Which is no small feat, huh. Just as it is no small matter to manage the pace of a film so well that in the end almost everything rests on the shoulders of Ryan Kwanten, which, ok, isn’t particularly brilliant or has a particularly interesting face, but for this very reason it’s the right choice to effectively keep the great revelation about his character hidden. Obviously I won’t spoil you, I’m just saying that it makes us understand why among all the people in the world, Ghat has chosen West. Again: it’s not the Ghatanothoa we know.
But one thing must be said: all right, Kwanten is spot on and Simmons’ voice is a guarantee, but the big job here is done by the editing, both visual and sound. He cranks up the volume when it comes to mindless little scares; he places you a sometimes hilarious soundtrack, which acts as an ironic and ruthless counterpoint to what we are seeing; and above all he never plays it in sequence shot when it comes to following Kwanten, but cuts, chops, chops, creates small, medium and large ellipses. In short, the rhythm is perfect precisely because the editing is frantic, it never stops, and for an hour and a quarter it tells us everything that needs to be told. Not a frame more, not a frame less.
It will be that I recently shot myself all over the Cabinet of Curiosities from Guillermo del Toro but I can’t help but think how much glorious would have worked great as an episode in that sort of “Tales from the Crypt according to Del Toro” that we find on Netflix. Indeed, not only that: it would also have made the two episodes in the dust actually taken from two short stories by Lovecraft: Pickman’s model And Dreams in the haunted house. It is often said, and it has also been talked about in these parts, that Lovecraft is unfilmable. I don’t think it’s necessarily true, but I find it curious that two direct transpositions of Lovecraft are less effective in conveying that particular type of cosmic horror than a parody. It’s those moments when I think: who’s right? They still try even if they don’t realize they’re not Richard Stanley or the McKendrys who study the subject well and then do whatever the fuck they want?
I don’t know. I do not know. Anyway, if you ask me, glorious is one of the surprises of the year.
«Tales from the cthulhu-verses»
Terrence Maverick, i400calci.com