Shadows Over Filmland is an anthology of scenarios for Trail of Cthulhu, Pelgrane Press’ RPG of Lovecraftian horror designed by Ken Hite. Co-authored with Robin D. Laws, it presents 13 scenarios inspired by both the black and white horror movies of the 1930s and H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. The movie inspiration is iconic: Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, and others. The fictional inspiration includes Lovecraft’s Under The Pyramids, Herbert West – Reanimator, and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. For each scenario, the authors blend the two. For example, Death Across The Nile blends The Mummy and Under The Pyramids in a tale that sees Queen Nitocris reach across the ages for her lost lover.
The conceit of this collection is that each scenario takes place in the same place, the Backlot Gothic, a remote part of Europe or Albion in Hollywood and an in-game sub-genre. The GM should use and reuse the given descriptions to simulate the Backlot Gothic’s use of stock (clichéd) footage/imagery and enforce its similarity. Suited to irregular visits than an extended stay, this good collection does mostly pulp horror, but with psychological and weird diversions too. One scenario, The Final Reel has the investigators shutting down the filming of The Call of Cthulhu! As with other Trail of Cthulhu titles, this collection is easily adapted to other Lovecraftian RPGs. Whatever the system, the horror of Shadows Over Filmland’s Backlit Gothic is baleful and bucolic, a place to visit, but then get away from.