Building a better R’lyeh – Part I

Whilst great Cthulhu himself won’t be making an appearance in Arkham Sanitarium, his watery grave features quite prominently.

How do you go about designing such a thing? R’lyeh is as mysterious as it is iconic and in attempting something like this on a small budget, any film runs the risk of disappointing the fans (and the film-makers).

There’s no ‘canon’ to follow in designing R’lyeh other than the words of H.P. Lovecraft himself – and HPL was big on creating atmosphere rather than detailing the specifics.

So what do we know about this forbidding and unearthly sunken city that rests at the bottom of the Pacific?

In Lovecraft’s classic tale, ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ we learn the following:

  • The coastline is of mud, ooze and “weedy Cyclopean masonry”
  • Cthulhu lies dreaming in a “monolith crowned citadel” of “dizzying height”
  • This citadel is built from massive “greenish stone blocks”
  • It features colossal “statues and bas-reliefs” of “stupefying identity”
  • It also exhibits “vast angles and stone surfaces” with “horrible images and hieroglyphs”
  • The geometry is “non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres”
  • Johansen’s men climb “titan oozy blocks which could have been no mortal staircase”
  • On the monolith is an “immense carved door with the now familiar squid-dragon bas-relief”

As we’re creating a faithful adaptation of Lovecraft, these above descriptions have to be our starting point – but where next? There’s some very nice artwork out there already for R’lyeh but nothing that really works for me in the context of Lovecraft’s story and what we want to show in Arkham Sanitarium.

I’ve got two specific ideas in mind for the styling of this legendary necropolis – in Part II you’ll see how these ideas come together but for now, here’s a couple of pictures (courtesy of Wikipedia) to give a glimpse of what’s to come…

~ by Survivor Films on July 28, 2011.

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