H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos has been remarkably influential over the decades. It is thus not surprising that if you do a Google image search for “Cthulhu” you will find a *vast* array of depictions of the terrifying Great Old One, along with various other of Lovecrafts creations. But here’s the thing: most of them fail.
There are two reasons why there have been, so far, no real efforts at making a faithful adaptation of a Cthulhu story into a big-budget movie, despite their popularity. Firstly: Lovecraft almost never described the appearance of his monsters in great detail. When he did, like the “Deep Ones” in “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” the monsters are fairly mundane… fish-people, essentially. The biggies like Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth are described vaguely at best. Secondly: the monsters often don’t even put in a visible appearance; or those few characters who see them promptly go insane at the sight.
And that’s what stomps on most of the artistic depictions of Mythos Monsters: no matter how skilled and talented an artist is, painting or sculpting a vision of Cthulhu that drives the viewer insane is pretty much impossible (not to mention unwise). Critters from the Mythos are some of the best examples of things that work great in your head, but not so great visually.
So, if you GIS Cthulhu, you’ll find a myriad of sketches, paintings, sculpltures, CG renders. A lot of them are exquisitely rendered and detailed with great clarity… and are just not terrifying. “Winged Squid Guy” just doesn’t really come off as a particularly spooky vision.
But there are a few exceptions. The image I posted yesterday from “The Cthulhu Wars” with Cthulhu getting nuked is all kinds of awesome, but it’s still not *quite* there with the terrifyingness. I think what you really need to do to make a truly effective depiction of Cthulhu is to render it so that you *can’t* see Cthulhu with any clarity. The creepiness comes not from clarity but from obscuration. Here, this one is good:
“Awakening” by Russian artist Alexander Andreev. Cthulhu paying a visit to St. Petersburg; nothing good is going to happen to that town. I assume that TU-160 is going to unload a thermonuclear “howdy” onto the visitor.
And this one I think *really* nails the right way to depict a Lovecraft monster:
Here, rather than seeing Cthulhu clearly, it is depicted vaguely. If you look at the image full-rez, it’s pretty clearly a fairly quickly Photoshopped image; the artist, Bulgarian Andrey Nazarov, took a photo of a road in his native country he found on Google and added the Cthulhu figure. Since this in the Internet, enough people actually *believed* this to be an actual photo that even Snopes had to get involved. Particularly amusing/distressing are the claims that this photo was shot during a tornado outbreak… in Oklahoma. The mountains of Oklahoma. That’s madness.
The distinctly Lovecraftian movie “The Mist” was at its most effective when the monsters remained shrouded in the obscuring mist. The bugs flying around attacking people inside the grocery store? Yeah, that was bad, but it was comprehensible. The things outside just yoinking people away? Bleah!
In short… you *can’t* do cosmic horror justice. And the more detail you show, the further you get from it.