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NECRONOMICON

An H.P. Lovecraft inspired anthology film.  It’s far from great, but does contain a wealth of stunningly grotesque imagery. 

The Package 
     In the wake of RE-ANIMATOR (1985), a flood of straight to video H.P. Lovecraft films were produced: H.P LOVECRAFT’S THE UNNAMABLE (1988), H.P. LOVECRAFT’S LURKING FEAR (1994) and NECROMONICON--or, as it’s known on video, H.P. LOVECRAFT’S NECRONOMICON--from 1993 (though for some reason it wasn’t released in the US until four years later).  NECRONOMICON’S three segments were apparently inspired by the Lovecraft stories “The Rats In The Walls,” “Cool Air” and “The Whisperer In The Darkness,” as well as the “Necronomicon” itself, Lovecraft’s infamous hoax book, but it’s a mite difficult to tell, as the film emphasizes special effects--by the likes of Screaming Mad George, Todd Masters and the legendary Tom Savini--at the expense of everything else.
     Outside the FX experts, the behind-the-camera talent is surprisingly impressive.  Producer/director Brian Yuzna, who helmed NECRONOMICON’S wraparound and third segment, has become a prolific and essential backer (and sometime director) of horror movies ever since producing RE-ANIMATOR.  Christophe Gans, who directed part one, went on to helm CRYING FREEMAN (1995) and the international smash BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (2001).  Shusuke Kaneko, helmer of part two, made the acclaimed films SUMMER VACATION 1999 (1988) and MY SOUL IS SLASHED (1991).  Add to that sharp performers like Belinda Bauer, David Warner, Jeffrey Combs, Dennis Christopher and Richard Lynch, and, well...you’ve got a film that should be far better than it is!

The Story
     This three-part concoction is held together by a wraparound story entitled “The Library,” which finds H.P. Lovecraft himself (as played by Jeffrey Combs) unearthing the ancient tome The Necronomicon, which provides the impetus for the following tales:
     In “The Drowned” a man moves into an inherited hotel.  Utilizing black magic (and repeating Lovecraft’s famous line “That which is not dead can eternal lie, and with strange eons hence even death may die...”) he resurrects a lost love, only to discover that the woman is actually the demon god Cthulhu in disguise.
     “The Cold” finds a reporter interviewing a woman who tells the story of her nutty family who’ve discovered the secret of eternal life.  Unfortunately, the secret turned out to be too much for them to handle and all ended up killing one another...while the present day reporter discovers, too late, that he’s destined to be the latest victim.
     “Whispers” has a female cop pursuing a shadowy killer through a seemingly deserted wear house that turns out to be inhabited by a mysterious alien race...who plan to use the woman as a breeder. 

The Direction 
     After the Christophe Gans-helmed part one, I was hoping the subsequent episodes would be better—as it turns out, however, Gans’ episode is actually the best of the bunch!  Although ultimately under whelming, it’s at least atmospheric, and concludes with the awe-inspiring sight of the demon god Cthulhu in all his slimy gory.
     Part two is the lamest of the films’ segments, with its by-the-numbers filmmaking that seems better suited to a TV movie.
     Part three is of similar quality, although it climaxes with a diverting—if excessively gratuitous and show-offy—special effects blow out.  The wraparound story ends in a similar fashion, with a toothy monster, a (literal) face-lift and an ALIEN-esque face-hugger somehow making an appearance.  Lovecraft must be somersaulting in his grave...
 

Vital Statistics 

NECRONOMICON (a.k.a. H.P. LOVECRAFT’S NECRONOMICON)
New Line Home Video 

Directors: Brian Yuzna (Wraparound & Episode 3), Christophe Gans (Episode 1), Shusuke Kaneko (Episode 2)
Producers: Brian Yuzna, Samuel Hadida
Screenplay: Brent V. Friedman/Brian Yuzna (Wraparound & Episode 3), Brent V. Friedman/Christophe Gans (Episode 1), Brent V. Friedman/Kazunori Ito (Episode 2)
Cinematography: Gerry Lively, Russ Brandt (Episode 1)
Editor: Christopher Roth, Keith H. Sauter
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Tony Azito, Juan Fernandez, Bruce Payne, Belinda Bauer, Richard Lynch, Maria Ford, Peter Jasienski, Denice D. Lewis, William Jess Russell, David Warner, Bess Meyer, Millie Perkins, Dennis Christopher, Gary Graham, Curt Lowens, Signy Coleman, Obba Babatunde, Don Calfa, Judith Drake
 


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