Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In short: Necronomicon (1993)

Every couple of years, I re-watch the Brian Yuzna-produced Necronomicon, asking myself – making a ridiculous and puzzled face, I suppose - why I don’t remember anything at all about it beyond the fact that Jeffrey Combs plays Lovecraft in the film’s wrap-around segments. Then, having watched the film, I realize I don’t remember anything about it because it’s far from a memorable movie, which in turn will of course lead to another round with it in five years time, unless I take a look at this useful post right here.

Because I’m a rather relaxed person when it comes to that sort of thing, I can’t even get angry about a film supposedly based on three Lovecraft tales generally having fuck all to do with the stories. I’m really rather more interested if the segments in themselves are any good. Alas…

Yuzna’s wrap-around tale is a good bit of fun, with Combs being Combs, Lovecraft being a rather two-fisted version of himself that is as much Indiana Jones as the old gent from Providence (pretend I’m now blathering on for ages about the man’s racism, because clearly that’s relevant and worthy of burning hatred when talking about a man who died in 1937), and the plot being silly, short, and with neat monster designs.

Christophe Gans’s highly gothic tale of a man (Bruce Payne) mourning the death of his wife, and nearly repeating the mistake of an ancestor (Richard Lynch), is probably the high point of the film. Sure, it has nothing whatsoever to do with The Rats in the Walls which it is supposedly based on, but the motives – if not its emotional base in love, one of Lovecraft’s least favourite emotions – it uses are very much Lovecraftian, and Gans is pretty great at building a mood that does resemble Corman’s Poe adaptations to a pleasant degree, until everything is wrapped up with fine monster designs and a shift towards nearly swashbuckling action that is the sort of thing the later director of Le Pacte des loups did already so very well at the time this was made.

I am a big admirer of Shusuke Kaneko’s 90s Gamera, perhaps the best kaiju eiga made after the original Gojira but his segment here is just a mess, finding neither a visual, nor a thematic nor even just a plot focus, with little happening in it that isn’t obvious, and nothing at all that’s interesting, unless you were always dreaming of watching David Warner in an awkward sex scene. On the more positive side, this segment does actually use plot elements of Lovecraft’s Cool Air, just not sensibly or to any effect.

Last but not least, we have Brian Yuzna’s segment, which is a very typical series of ever more grotesque effect scenes, the kind of thing I find entertaining enough as long as I’m in the process of watching it – particular with creature and, well, stuff design like it is here – but that not really makes for a satisfying climax when the grotesque isn’t in service of anything. Again, it’s no surprise I won’t remember any of this in a few years.

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