H.P Lovecraft is one of the greatest writers in history, in my own opinion, influencing many, many authors, and even directors, including Stephen King, Stuart Gordon, and more importantly Brain Yuzna. I say more importantly, since in this anthology, Yuzna directs both the wrap-around, and the final segment, as well as play a cameo.
Based on three works by Lovecraft, Necronomicon starts with a wrap-around featuring Jeffery Combs as the late author, coming to a monastery to study some of the books they have there. Upon arriving however, he quickly steals a key from one of the monks, and gets his hands on a forbidden copy of the evil Necronomicon, the book of the dead. From his reading we are shown the three stories to make up the film, but reading the Necronomicon doesn’t come cheap.
The first of the three stories is directed by Christophe Gans, who also directed Brotherhood Of The Wolf, one of my favorite epics, and the ever popular Silent Hill adaption. Called ” The Drawned” or ” The Drowned” depending where you look, this segment is loosely based on the story ” The Rats In The Walls”, and follows Edward De LaPoer, as he returns to New England in order to receive a hotel that was left to him in his uncles will. Reading a letter left to him from his uncle, he learns that his uncle has found a way to bring the dead back to life, with the help of the Necronomicon, but nothing ever comes back as it seems. A-.
The second of these tales is directed by Shusuke Kaneko, a famous Japanese director who at the time of filming couldn’t even speak English. “The Cold” is based on “Cool Air”, and is the story of a reporter who thinks he’s figured out the finally clue in a series of murders and missing peoples. He approaches the daughter of Emily Osterman with his suspicions, and she in return tells him the story of her mother. Upon renting a room in Boston, Emily Osterman meets the always freezing cold Dr. Madden, who people say has to be at least 100, yet looks sixty at best. Finding out his secret, and seeing the ending makes this by far the best of the stories. A.
Finally we come to “Whispers” based on ” The Whisperer In The Dark”, this time directed by Brain Yuzna. Whispers starts out with a bang, with two cops chasing after a speeding car, while fighting about the fact they slept together and now the driver is pregnant. They crash the car, should of paid more attention to driving, and “The Butcher”, the driver of the other car, pulls out the man, and drags him though a twisted and weird apartment building. Chasing after her partner, the pregnant cop meets an odd couple, who never seem to be on the same page, and who keep changing what they say. Is there something more to this couple, or are they just afraid of the Butcher and the underground tunnels that lay in wait beneath. B+.
While all of the stories are quite good, all except for ‘The Cold’ seem to be aimed at people who have read Lovecraft’s work in order to fully understand it. Weird shit just happens at every turn, and it rarely bothers to explain it’s self, and while as a fan of Lovecraft’s work, it doesn’t bother me, I can see where some one could be really put off by it. “Whispers” is really bad for this, and after I finished the film, I had to go back and re-read the short story to have a better understanding of it.
Since Brain Yuzna is involved in the film, you know right from the get go it’s going to be bloody, and the effects are going to be crazy, and it delivers there. Everything from the fish-people based on ” The Shadows Of Innsmouth”, to the bit of Cthulhu you see, the film’s creatures look great, and there’s plenty of them. Add to the mix a fair share of blood, and guts, and you got yourself a fun anthology film.
The whole film is screams late ’80s style horror, even though it’s from ’93, and comes across as a horror film not just meant to scare, but meant to be fun as well. The acting is hit and miss, with the best coming in the form of Jeffery Combs, and the crazy couple in “Whispers”, they played it with such a level of goofy eccentricity that your never quite sure if you can trust them.
Necronomicon is a great anthology film if your just looking for some fun effects, and some crazy stories, and a even better film if your a fan of Lovecraft to begin with. Either way, I’d say it’s worth a watch, if only for ” The Cold”.