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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Necronomicon: Book of Dead

(Necronomicon)
1993 | FranceJapanUnited States | 96 min | More...
A still from Necronomicon: Book of Dead (1993)
  • Watched on C-: 3 stars (out of 5)
    on Sat Oct 30, 2021 via Blu-ray

    A three-story anthology based on stories by H. P. Lovecraft. I had high hopes. Producer and segment director Brian Yuzna had worked on two of my favorite Lovecraft adaptations, Re-Animator and From Beyond. This doesn’t match those efforts, but I enjoyed the tantalizing wrap around sequence.

    The first story sees Bruce Payne play a widower inheriting a crumbling seaside hotel. It borrows from “The Rats in the Walls” but sprinkles in elements of the tentacled Cthulhu mythos. I admired the intent, but Payne’s performance didn’t connect, rendering the finale a detached spectacle, despite proffering terrific practical effects.

    The next story has David Warner playing a mysterious doctor occupying the top floor of a Boston apartment house. A new tenant, played by Bess Mayer, learns the doctor’s terrible secrets in this adaptation of Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.” I loved Warner in the role, but the story’s EC Comics style twist underwhelmed.

    The last story sees Signy Coleman play a police officer seeking to rescue her partner from a mysterious assailant known as “The Butcher”. Directed by Yuzna, this loose adaptation of “Whispers in the Dark” embraces a more gonzo tone than the prior entries and proved my favorite of the three.

    That said, the film underwhelmed. While I loved the practical effects, I lamented the lack of existential dread. The compressed timelines didn’t help, but these tenuous adaptations proved tone deaf to the source material.

    But about that wrap around sequence. Rather than adapt a Lovecraft story, it features Jeffrey Combs as Lovecraft himself, who travels to a monastery where he sneaks into the cellar and discovers a copy of the Necronomicon. While Combs looks nothing like Lovecraft, I loved his performance as a prudish author cursed with arcane knowledge. It was my favorite part of the film and had me longing for a horror-adventure film set in the 20s directed by Stuart Gordon with Combs as Lovecraft. That would have been something.