H. P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon is an anthology horror film directed by Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III), Christophe Gans (Silent Hill) and Shusuke Kaneko (Gamera). It stars Jeffrey Combs as H. P. Lovecraft and features extensive practical effects work that was supervised by Tom Savini. It features three tales that are loosely based on short stories by Lovecraft.
The film is broken into four separate features: “The Library”, “The Drowned”, “The Cold” and “Whispers”. “The Library” segment is the frame story, which begins and ends the movie. H. P. Lovecraft learns of a monastery where a copy of the Necronomicon is held. Taking insult when the head monk calls his work “fiction”, Lovecraft insists that all his writings are true. Lovecraft steals a key from another monk and flees to the cellar where the Necronomicon is being held. He sits and begins to read the book which leads to him having visions.
I’m not going to go into any great detail on each of the stories, instead I’ll just give my thoughts on the film.
For whatever reason, this film is extremely obscure. In fact, it was never distributed onto DVD outside of the US and even that version is rare. This is a huge shame because Necronomicon is a great horror anthology. It has some flaws but it’s in no way deserving of its fate.
They just don’t make horror movies like this anymore. There’s something about films that Jeffrey Combs appears in that really drive that fact home. If you’re a fan of any of his previous work then I implore you to seek this out.
Each of the contrasting stories presented are fairly basic and easy to follow. The first is a little slow but the pacing becomes more erratic as it progresses. The gruesome nature of the tales escalate as well. There are plenty of genuinely impressive gore and animatronic effects throughout. In fact, it’s so good in that department you can easily forgive it for a few dodgy moments involving CGI.
Things get truly grotesque at times, some of it even managed to make me grimace in disgust. Otherwise, it’s shot really nicely. There are a couple of cool looking sets and wonderful usages of colours that feel very Lovecraftian.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was the performances of the actors. This isn’t the type of film where you’d expect it but it’s surprisingly good.
The overarcing story involving Combs as Lovecraft is sadly the weakest part of the film. It just isn’t developed enough and ends in confusing fashion. Jeffrey Combs feels a little wasted as he’s not in the film very much at all. The heavy prosthetic used does make him look like Lovecraft but it hides his performance too well.
You could tell that the film knew it was coming to an end because it goes somewhat batshit. It felt like they were throwing everything they had at the screen attempting to clumsily wrap it up before their budget ran out.
Overall, H. P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon has a layer of cheese that only these types of horror films manage to capture so well. I mean that in the absolute best way possible. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t find some of way of seeing it.
H. P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon