Gen X Horror: Necronomicon

Mr. Kotwicki reviews the Lovecraft adaptation, Necronomicon.

"Dude. I want some of the
drugs SHE'S on!!!"
H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon is a 1993 anthological fantasy-horror film which loosely adapts three of the famed author’s short stories to film, The Rats in the Walls, Cool Air, and The Whisper in Darkness.  Starring Jeffrey Combs as Lovecraft himself in a loose wraparound narrative concerning his sojourn for the magical book of the dead, the film cross-cuts between Lovecraft’s research of the Necronomicon for material and the short stories penned by Lovecraft.  Lovecraft (Combs) enters a monastery where a copy of the infamous book itself is being held and finds himself held captive by mysterious supernatural powers exhibited by the book.  Instead of seeking an escape route, Lovecraft takes the opportunity to seize as much from the book as he can before the film shifts gears and dramatizes each story he researches. 

The first segment by Silent Hill director Christophe Gans is a bizarre tale told largely in flashback about Faustian figures who reject God after the deaths of loved ones and get far more than they bargained for in the form of tentacled beasts when the prospect of reviving said loved ones appears in the form of the Necronomicon.  Those who recall the surreal prosthetic creatures from Silent Hill will recognize Gans penchant for atmospheric metaphysical horror with little explanation provided.  Next is Shusuke Kaneko’s love triangle piece with notable British character actor David Warner as a doctor who perfects a rejuvenating vaccine made from spinal fluid in conjunction with the Necronomicon.  Much like the prior segment, the short is divided between flashbacks recounted during the present moment, with a reporter suspected of murder in conversation with a woman recounting her encounter with the doctor.  Lastly is Re-Animator producer Brian Yuzna (who also provided the wraparound narrative) whose segment follows a female police officer trailing a serial killer who winds up inside some sort of cave inhabited by demons.  Yuzna’s segment is a sick orgy of prosthetic gore operating on all four cylinders, with tons of wild prosthetics and graphic violence exploding in front of the camera. 

"I told you to brush your teeth
every night before bed. Now see what
happens when you don't listen!!!!"
Primarily a Japanese/European production with a theatrical release in international markets, Necronomicon sat on the shelf for three years before being dumped on video in the United States market in 1996.  The film was also heavily censored in the US, with nearly every scene involving gore watered down when compared to the international release versions.  Overall Necronomicon is a cult item for enthusiasts of anthological horror films, Jeffrey Combs, and H.P. Lovecraft.  There are times when it feels not unlike the fantasies of Clive Barker, particularly Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions for mixing the occult with all the tools of the visual effects makeup department.  The result can be a little corny but still promises old fashioned fun for horror movie fans wanting more out of the genre than just another serial killer with a bloody knife.  Never one to achieve mainstream success or find an easy fit into the genre, but absolutely one for those wanting their horror from off the beaten path.

-Andrew Kotwicki