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Linus Pauling Quartet Brings Cthulhu to Life

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Ramon Medina of Linus Pauling Quartet has over the years proven himself a music-video visionary. Increasingly his work in stop-motion animation has shown a depth and nuance that is edging him into Tool-level of brilliance. That said, when I heard that he was doing a live-music video premiere I thought it was a bit pretentious. Jerry Ochoa doesn't do that, and he's at least Medina's equal in local music-video filmmaking.

Now I see why Medina is insisting on a big shindig. "C is for Cthulhu" is a monumental work that deserves to be seen bigger than a laptop or smartphone screen. It's definitely his masterpiece.

To start, the video is essentially a short musical film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's famous short story "Call of Cthulhu." Most of Lovecraft has been wisely deemed unfilmable, and only a handful of really great adaptations of his works have ever been completed.

Medina is up against one of the few that has been, though. The 2005 silent-film version is widely regarded as the purest Lovecraft vision ever to come to life, and features incredible stop-motion animation to boot. Can Medina top that?

Well... no, but it's a high bar to jump. He does, however, put a remarkable spin on the tale that is enjoyable, short, and extremely well done.

It's very accurate, with only minimal cuts to make the running time fit a more appropriate music-video length. Christian Best hilariously fulfills the role of the tortured artist driven to near madness by the dreaming elder god under the sea. Best plays his brief role with gusto and utter sincerity. The normally taciturn and gruff tattoo artist comes alive like Crazy Ralph from the Friday the 13th films.

There's also Makana Clemons in a really stand out part as Dr. Lavinia de LaPoer. Lovecraft stories have a sorry amount of female characters, virtually none of them positive. Clemons adds some much-needed ovarian fortitude to the proceedings, being both a scholarly academic and badass with a gun who opens fire on the elder god when he awakens.

The real star, though, is Medina's unique and inspired realization of Cthulhu, a thing of horrid beauty that unsettles and terrorizes. Medina's art brings him to life perfectly, and seamlessly weaves the impossible figure within the rest of the video's narrative. He even gives us a wonderful teaser ending with hopes for a sequel.

I've been covering music videos in Houston for nearly three years, and honestly can not think of a better one than "C is for Cthulhu." It's just amazing.

Premiere at Rudyard's 10 p.m. Saturday, October 25 with Wo Fat.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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