Terror Beneath the Waves
Cthulhu has a reputation on the internet for being a pretty terrifying monster. I can only assume most people haven’t read The Call of Cthulhu wherein you find out that he mostly just lurks under the sea making people worried about whether they flossed or forcing them to have a bad dream where they show up naked to class. That is some bush-league villainy if you ask me.
Oh yeah, and toward the end of the story he is defeated by someone driving a yacht through his head? What a chump. If he tries to terrorize the world again, we can just send the Harvard University crew team out and they’ll put a stop to that nonsense in record time, I’m sure.
Poor Cthulhu, I’m making fun of him and he can’t even fight back being trapped under the ocean and all. Sorry, buddy, I didn’t mean it.
H.P. Lovecraft had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of monstrous fiends clawing their way out of his imagination but only Cthulhu has stood the test of time. For whatever reason, this be-tentacled creature from the dark depths of the ocean has managed to capture the world’s attention, particularly on the internet. Something about the cults that surround him, the strange language uttered by his followers, and this monstrosity from beyond the stars himself continues to call out to people, much as he does in Lovecraft’s works. Nowadays there is a real cult of Cthulhu though they are eager readers of suspense and horror that lap up this strange fictional mythology rather than the psychotic murders and ritualists of the stories.
With the Call of Cthulhu, his first story containing the monster we all know and love, Lovecraft seemed to have no idea that he was penning a work that would stand the test of time and lead him to post-mortem notoriety. Publishers were largely disinterested in the work and Lovecraft himself described it as middling in quality and somewhat rambling. While the story itself may not be the most elegantly written or engaging, what it does present is insight into a powerful fictional mythology surrounding our squid faced friend and his race of star-monsters known as The Great Old Ones. Much of his later work contained references to the beast and myriad other horrific creatures that supposedly haunt the earth. And in many of his works, there is an undercurrent of not-so-disguised racism. But we’ve already discussed that.
Despite the horrific nature of a massive monster with tentacles on his face and wings on his back lurking under the ocean, what really drives much of the terror in Lovecraft’s novels is people. The cult surrounding this monster is responsible for murders and ritual sacrifice as well as for general insanity. It is Cthulhu’s ability to tap into the minds of humans and warp their perceptions with whispered suggestions that is his scariest aspect. Cthulhu is, in many ways, insanity and chaos itself and that’s what serves to make him so interesting.
As long as insanity and chaos remain relevant topics, the Cthulhu stories will likely hold on as powerful cult classics (pun intended). Despite the flaws of the writing and the writer himself, the concepts are powerful and deserve the attention they receive.
Although I’m pretty sure Cthulhu probably would not enjoy knowing about the memes that have been made about him…
…Or the stuffed toys.
It would probably be a waking nightmare for him to know about the stuffed toys.