London-based Modiphius Entertainment has signed script writer Dirk Vandereyken and director Raine McCormack to work on a film adaptation of its award-winning tabletop gaming universe Achtung! Cthulhu.

A scant week after hauling in a prestigious Silver ENnie for best writing and another one for best artwork, the Achtung! Cthulhu gaming line will now be expanded upon with a feature-length movie that will bring many of the characters presented in the roleplaying game and board game to life. 

The Setting

The Achtung! Cthulhu setting uses the writings of H.P. Lovecraft – arguably the most influential horror author ever – and the events unfolding just before and during World War II as source material to unveil the horrific secret history of what was actually going on behind the scenes. It presents a nightmarish alliance of science and the occult, frightening inhuman conspiracies from the depths of time and unbelievable war machines created just as much by the infernal ovens of the German factories as by dark incantations chanted by a select group of immoral, Cthulhu-worshiping Nazi researchers. It also features the heroes of the time, flawed but courageous human beings making a stand in the idle hope of postponing the inevitable demise of humankind foretold in antediluvian manuscripts tucked away in hidden corners of the world’s greatest museums.

Many of the characters, villains and creatures in the film are drawn from the pages and inspirational graphic art of the critically acclaimed Achtung! Cthulhu books and will also be making an appearance in Dark Tales, an anthology of short stories set in the same universe, whilst Modiphius has just launched a large range of collectible miniatures based on the universe. 

Modiphius Entertainment’s CEO Chris Birch

"In my mind, Achtung! Cthulhu has never been just a game," comments Modiphius Entertainment founder Chris Birch, the gaming entrepreneur behind the Achtung! Cthulhu universe. "The writings of H.P. Lovecraft have inspired a massive backstory, set against the backdrop of World War Two. This isn't just another 'weird war' tale but a deep-rooted, millennia-old conflict, in which mankind is but a mere pawn. It lends itself extremely well to different media, so I know that both H.P. Lovecraft and Achtung! Cthulhu fans are going to be excited to see what we have planned."

Modiphius Entertainment was launched in 2013 with the Kickstarter hit for Achtung! Cthulhu, a tabletop roleplaying game, raising over £200,000 in funding, and unlocking 11 books and over 2000 pages of storyline inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. A subsequent Kickstarter by Paris-based Devil Pig Games this Summer raised £150,000 for a licensed boardgame based on Achtung! Cthulhu which showed the brand has huge potential and Modiphius has also raised £150,000 for the reboot of the massive 90's gaming brand Mutant Chronicles. Modiphius recently announced a co-operative boardgame based on the Thunderbirds license with designer Matt Leacock at the helm. 

Founder Chris Birch was previously involved with filmmaking as one of the three-man pioneering team behind the Digital Film Assassins, the producers of the first internet television series in the UK, Newblood, about vampires in London clubland, which ran for 3 seasons and 30 episodes. Chris went on to found the Joystick Junkies video games fashion label before launching Modiphius in 2012. An entrepreneur by trade, a Cthulhu Mythos fan at heart, a WWII expert out of interest and an RPG gamer for life, Chris has a unique vision that sets him apart from most other company execs. 

Script Writer Dirk Vandereyken

“This may very well be the most exciting project I’ve ever worked on,” says script writer Dirk Vandereyken, who has been playing the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game since he was 11. “Several film directors have taken a stab at making H.P. Lovecraft’s vision come to life, but they haven’t always been respectful of the source material. I’ve been a Lovecraft fan and roleplayer for as long as I can remember and I can guarantee we won’t be changing any of the canon out there for our film’s sake – the stories are so good that the Cthulhu Mythos simply doesn’t need to be tweaked. I’d also like to add that some of our scenes will be set in New England, near the Miskatonic University – something a lot of fans have been clamouring for. Let me be clear, though: Achtung Cthulhu: The Secret War will cater to everyone who likes suspenseful, action-riddled movies with strong characterisation, great dialogue and exciting plots!”

Dirk is just as excited about the Achtung Cthulhu! setting itself: “Chris Birch and his Modiphius Entertainment team have provided us with a wealth of great stories and ideas to toy around with. It’s been great to delve deeper into some of the characters and organisations, give them a backstory and show the Achtung! Cthulhu players what they were up to in 1939. Also, we all did a lot of research into World War II. A lot of the detail will probably slip by unnoticed, like the fact that if you see rain on a particular day, that was genuinely what the weather was like on that date. Others will be easily recognisable to military experts and historians, such as the French troops deciding not to advance further into the Rhine region in 1939.”

Dirk also promises Achtung Cthulhu: The Secret War to be different from other films in the genre. “Trust me, this is going to be nothing like the Nazis and zombies films you’ve been seeing over the last couple of years. I know, because I did PR for a lot of them, like Frankenstein’s Army and Outpost. It will also be less pulpy than Iron Sky or the Indiana Jones movies, although it will have a lot of the energy that made those films special. Achtung! Cthulhu is slightly more action-oriented than most of the Lovecraft stories are, but it retains many elements that have made the original roleplaying game so popular, like an intricate story, investigation and great dialogue.”

Dirk wrote his first novel when he was 11 years old. It was published 3 years later, making him the youngest published Belgian author ever, which won him his city’s gold medal for cultural merit. Apart from having a career as a journalist, critic, therapist, acting coach, teacher and PR consultant, his two most recent novels, Baour, Strands of Death and Fates Worse than Death: Hunter, were both written in English and published in the U.S. “It’s been about 5 years since I wrote Baour, Strands of Death, says Dirk. “I’ve mostly been involved with magazines and scripts for film and television ever since, often as a ghost writer. It was time to get back to a major project like this one and I can guarantee we won’t disappoint the fans out there. I had been sitting on this project for a full year and when I met Raine at the Cannes Film Festival, I just knew he was the right man for the job. The stuff he showed us – unbelievable! I don’t know a lof of directors who share his level of enthusiasm and energy, whilst still remaining fun to work with. He’s just been great throughout the entire scripting stage!” 

Director Raine McCormack

It’s not every day a producer manages to find a passionate film maker like Raine McCormack to start up what is bound to become an amazing film franchise. Nonetheless, he already got interested in the project after reading the first few pages of the initial script proposal. “I was first approached by Dirk regarding Achtung! Cthulhu after a chance meeting in Cannes,” says Raine. “Extremely impressed with the short piece of script I was sent and with my mind running into a creative frenzy I knew I HAD to be part of this exciting project – H.P. Lovecraft still stands as the most significant writer of horror to date.”

Even though Raine was already intimately familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos (with some of his friends even whispering he owns a tattered copy of the Necronomicon), he wasn’t aware of the roleplaying game that spawned the thrilling universe of Achtung! Cthulhu. “Aside from cinematography, directing and editing skills, one vital aspect I bring to this project is that I’m coming in with an outside perspective on roleplaying games. While I have a strong appreciation for what attracts gamers, I’ve never been one myself, which leaves me free to direct a movie that won’t only appeal to the fans, but also to a much broader audience. I’ve been researching like a mad man to get up to par with Chris, Dirk and the team; from this I know that this movie will be an engaging, eerie trip into a fantastic universe ripe with possibilities. All the creative elements are in place to completely immerse film afficionados in a dark, gritty visual experience with an incredibly strong storyline that can be built upon in later instalments.”

Raine started out in photography as a young boy when – in an attempt to persuade his parents to buy him a camera – he bought the case first. It worked and although not taking it on as a full time vocation, driven by creativity, Raine followed his other passion: music. After studying sound design and engineering at Uni, Raine went on to work in various studios helping many musicians achieve their visions. Not content with sound alone and feeling the itch to be part of a more visual art, Raine became involved in acting. He appeared in various TV programmes, films, shorts and promo campaigns, including running around a set at Shepperton Studios with Bill Nighy and Nicholas Hoult as a 60ft giant.

Very hands on, always behind the camera and driven by a need to create great visual content, Raine now runs Reel King, his own production company, which is enjoying an increasing popularity.  A true lover of filming tech, Raine is not only comfortable with shooting on the ground but also 400ft up in the air via Reel King’s drone camera set up. Reel King has many exciting projects on the horizon, from commercial contracts and music videos to the dark horror feature film Brian the Blessed starring Natasha Coppola-Shalom and Ewen Macintosh (The Office, The Scouting Book for Boys), which will be shot in November 2014. Needless to say, Raine is a lover of the genre and is looking forward to start directing the exciting feature that will be Achtung Cthulhu!: The Secret War.

Not just a film…

When film connoisseurs like Chris, Dirk and Raine get started on a project, things are bound to move fast. When they join forces, exciting opportunities come knocking on every door imaginable. The three team members are already in talks with film investors and have begun preliminary casting. Achtung! Cthulhu - The Secret War will be following the usual process for feature film funding, with  shooting slated  for Summer 2015. Modiphius is considering a Kickstarter in the Spring of 2015 to top up the budget as well as funding a series of roleplaying supplements and other games tied in to the storyline of the movies. Achtung! Cthulhu is envisaged as a series of films following the exploits of various characters through the Secret War and will be accompanied by a special web series for fans. 

For further information contact Chris Birch at Modiphius on +44 207 460 1776 or using the contact form or visit
Achtung! cthulhu