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Necronomicon (1993)


Holy fucking shit. Of course this trainwreck is a Brian Yuzna production.

So...  Necronomicon (1993*). I wanted to do this for a while.

This, ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and ghouls, vamplings, zombesquities etc., is what scientists watch whilst typing away fanatically at long-winded papers about the development of hypostases of ancient Sumerian deities which could be linked conceptually with Yog-Sothoth**
I don't know about you, but my own brand of horror education has made me aware of the fact that people dealing with things like this are usually prone to visits from terrifying abominations lurking beyond the frail borders of mortal perception, elder things that have lurked beyond the dim echo of the line dividing life and death, immanent in the horrifying splendour and awe-inspiring terrors of the universe, waiting and spawning at the gateways. So there you go, my eventual fate is probably to die screaming in an asylum after attempting to summon the monstrous horrors of the void and emptiness between the stars.***

Necronomicon (1993) consists of three shorts - 'The Drowned', 'Cold Air' and 'Whispers' - embedded into a frame-story (0, also known as 'The Library' and directed by our collective favourite, Brian Yuzna), which, amazingly, gives us Jeffrey Combs as the man himself, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Within said frame-story, he (...or should that be He?) is visiting a library to research the hidden secrets of blasphemous monstrosities from beyond, so naturally, things become interesting as he stumbles across that most evil of all books: The Necronomicon! Lovecraft starts to read - and the stories we are shown are right from the pages of that terrifying tome penned by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred.
'The Drowned' (I) - The last of the lines of the Delapores (well, de la Poers actually if we're really going by canon here) returns to his ancestral manor... and we all know that ancestral manors are usually a beacon for evil forces that cast their demented shadow over such places, attracting all kinds of abominations from the lonely places beyond.
The first minutes are more or less setting up the story of the de la Poers - but just as the esteemed Lovecraft-fan is getting comfortable and begins to identify the story used as 'The Rats in the Walls' (one of HPL's masterpieces - if you feel like, enjoy), gleefully waiting for the ancestral cannibalistic terror to be involved, atavistically driving our protagonist to madness, the story kind of... switches around in the middle of establishing itself and adds weird story elements not really congruent with what we know the mentioned story at all.
The ancestral manor - sitting upon a cliff that is honeycombed with ancient caves, which any faithful reader of the master of weird fiction knows to house a terrible, terrible secret - is situated near the sea. This apparently made it a favourite with suicides of the de la Poer family... and whoosh, suddenly the story completely switches, and we're suddenly right in something that... is not a Lovecraft story I recognise. A ship runs aground in a terrible storm (one feels slightly reminded of The Call of Cthulhu, but that's wrong alarm... or maybe this potpourri is intentional? Who knows...), and a character's wife and child die in the process; said character, now lacking said wife and child, burns the Hol(e)y Bible out of a theatrical display of anger aimed at the Most High and kind of renounces god (that YHVH-guy). What follows is the most logical conclusion - he gets a nightly visit from a fish-/crab-/thingie-creature threateningly telling him that he is not alone, and as such, he suddenly finds the (you guessed it) Necronomicon (dun - DUN - DUNNNNNNNNN!!!!) underneath a pile of sea-ish stuff with which probably would have disgusted Lovecraft to no end****. As the book (or should that be 'tome'?) is friendly, it opens to a ritual called "Towards the Remedie of Untimely Loss". This includes chanting the famous lines we all know and love - that is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die as well as the line about 'in his house in R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming' (or something like that, I'm reciting from memory here).
As this is a Lovecraftian story nonetheless, no matter on what story or story elements it is based on or not based on, the ritual succeeds and the guy's two loved ones, wife and son, are indeed resurrected - AS TENTACLED MONSTROSITIES! *mad laughter*
...suicide ensues.

... ...AAAAAAAND we're out of that story segment (let's call it I.1) and back in the frame-short of Mr. Delapore/de la Poer in his ancestral manor. In the library, no less, frantically researching hidden knowledge that man was never meant to know. As he falls asleep in exhaustion, the story suddenly makes a violent turn and rapes your Lovecraft-mind: Bony things appear from underneath Delapore's bed amidst a green glow (of the black magick / black science-persuasion of colour), whispering something.
Naturally, the last scion of the line of those degenerated de la Poers finds the - you guessed it! - Necronomicon (I begin to see a pattern here) and immediately starts ritualising around, calling upon Elder Forces from beyond.
For some reason, hot undead chick ensues (yepp, another relationship-y resurrection), and we nearly get some action - this being a Lovecraft flick by Brian Yuzna, we know that not all is well, though. The moment the female begins to develop quite the tentacles-from-various-orifices-theme, we know that we're back in "we're doing Lovecraft not for the cosmic terror and creeping fear, we do it for the octopoid abominations and possibilities to use great slimy masses of stuff to make our point about otheworldly terrors"-land. Which is so charming that you can't not like it... (unfortunately, no screen shot. Craptop doth not want to take screenshots - 't'would be too much, running two applications at the same time!)

...And we're back in the movie's frame-story (0) about Jeffrey Combs as Howard Phillips, reading the Necronomicon...
...and the story that unfolds right before our eyes is 'The Cold' (II), obviously based on the original story 'Cool Air'. This one's been produced by Shûsuke Kaneko, whose other works I have not been privy to.

Interestingly enough, the first time I saw this outside of my <3 suhrkamp editions of actually rather good German translations of Lovecraft's stories or in lovingly made .txt-files on the net, it was in a zombie-anthology ('The Dead that Walk'). I had never seen it under that premise of an idea.
This version of the story involves a young woman being extraordinarily sensitive to heat, living in a suspiciously cool flat. A reporter visits her and asks her about the doctor used to live there - and his alleged connection to 11 dead people. After clumsily threatening the woman, she starts with her story...

The Past:
Young woman (with no particular sensitivity to heat - HINT HINT HINT) moves into the house, the other people living there being the woman who owns it and a mysterious tenant (which we could foresee to be the mysterious doctor) who is not to be disturbed. In her apartment, however, young woman notices ammonia accumulating on the ceiling, dropping onto her musical notes.
Cue in abusive stepfather, crude sexual innuendos and attempted rape - in the end being heroically forestalled by mysterious tenant with a scalpel. Yes, meet David Warner as Dr. Madden. He's awesome in that role. Seriously awesome - but maybe that's because I'm kind of a fan of the guy, so there is a distinct possibility of bias.
The good doctor explains the frigid temperature to young woman by his skin disease, which requires an unusually cold room temperature, and after noncomittally having accepted that matter-of-factly, they part ways. Blood dripping down from the ceiling at night is the logical next step in this story's development.
We also find out that the doctor is probably more than 100 years old, and that he bleeds transparent ick instead of blood.
The story proceeds predictably from there if one is aware of the story by HPL, with only minor variations. Okay, we get a pretty kitschy romantic scene (which is surprisingly awesome considering the participants) complete with a bit of romantic love-making (...yaayy(?)!)... complete with a love-plot of the respected "Oh noes! I cannot stay away from this elderly mad undead scientist!"-variety + a kind of love-triangle. Followed by graphic melting of the good undead elderly mad scientist. We love you, Brian Yuzna. We do. So very very much.

Back to young woman and reporter. Reporter is drunk and suspects young-woman-talking-to-him and young-woman-from-the-story-about-the-goodly-doctor to be the same person. Oh noes. We totally didn't see that coming. Blah blah spinal fluid blah blah.

After that:
Back to Jeffrey Combs... eh, I mean Howard Phillips in 'The Library' (0), reading the Necronomicon. Another story - the third in this collection, again arising mystically from the pages of that evil book! (*grins*) ---

--- cut away to short number III, 'Whispers'. This one's also directed by Brian Yuzna, so you can freely assume to be in for some fleshy ride. And you would be right! 

It's the most ridiculous thing EVAR.

I love it dearly.

You will, too, if you can appreciate Yuzna-stamped fleshy things man was never meant to see and a campy plot:
Two policemen (one guy, one gal) have a car accident. Waking up, the female finds herself alone, her partner taken. As she's a cop and he's her partner and this is a predictable movie, she goes off to find him. Doing this, she demonstrates a great ability to pick out the worst situations to be in as she follows the trail of his blood...
The male disappears, whereas she ends up in some sort of subterranean hall and is found by a harmless and polite-appearing elderly man. Still underneath the earth, his bizarre wife appears, and it turns out they know about The Butcher - the (ghastly, terrifying, terrible, horrifying, astoundingly evil, bad, monstrous etc. etc. pp. ad nauseam) criminal that the policefemale and her partner have been hunting together! What a coincidence!
So they (the elderly couple) take her to their home, having a bit of small-talk and such things (...one would expect tea and biscuits!), and inform her that The Butcher is an alien that has been here since before the time of the dinosaurs - or is he the servant of an alien? Who knows...
In order to achieve police-y stuff,  female cop is being taken downwards...  farther down into the depth of the earth - to a tunnel, decorated with odd wallcarvings and stuff like that (presumably, this is supposed to be a 'Lovecraftian' design), where the elderly male shows her a deep hole in the ground, fully hidden by a malevolent mist and surrounded by more eldritch (kind of Aztec-looking) carvings. How did he come by this knowledge, we all wonder? So finally it turns out at this point that the elderly couple is a team of obscene cultists of the Great Old Ones. Female cop is thrown into a surreal, slime-filled, squicky underworld, where she finds her partner undergoing a horrible transformation.

It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever fucking seen. I mean... OMG. Flappy flapping things. Seriously, this beats a lot of crappy animatronics, and ZOMG -- this is perfect. Hilarious.

In the end, the cultists turn out to be pro-life AND marrow-sucking aliens. This is indeed worth a satisfied nod - predictable, yes, but awesome. It's far too random and awesome and cool to give away the 'plot', for lack of a better worth, - well, give away more than I already did, but hey, I did slap a spoiler warning on top of this - but... man.
Flappy things.
They make me giggle every time I see them.


...rest assured that madness ensues.

Cut to frame-story (0) of Jeffrey Combs in the library with the Necronomicon. Something tentacled attacks him, and an awesome bald priest - who is seriously cool, I like the character a lot -, has, after warning Lovecraft cryptically of evil things, most of his face pulled off by our soft-spoken Providence scholar. Then a terrible evil from the other end of a colourful tunnel connecting the Necronomicon to worlds beyond eats his skull out of his skin.

Forces have been unleashed that should never have been stirred from their uneasy, merciful sleep...

A remarkably funny way of butchering Lovecraft. I am often lenient with the truly trashy terrible transmutations being marketed as 'based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft', especially if they have this ...special charm. Yes, I'm an addict. However, this flick is thoroughly enjoyable and will guarantee giggles galore. The FX alone are enjoyable - handiwork one recognises and appreciates. There should be more movies like that.

6.75 / 10 flappy flapping things wildly flapping around in a completely non-menacing way (yes, it's that good).

* There seems to be some kind of disagreement on the year; my copy says 1994, and I've originally seen this aired on TV ages ago as a 1994 movie. IMDB says 1993. I am obviously going with IMDB here.
** Spelling disputed.
*** Knowledge of obscure dead languages - check. Researches ancient religions - check. Trained in archaeology / anthopology - check. Reads old books - check. Pale and thin - check. Indulges in the occasional mad giggling - check. Watches horror movies - check. Reads HPL - check. 
...Holy fuck, I am a manifestation of a cliché!
**** Lovecraft didn't like seafood or general fishy stuff. Like... really didn't like it. Never wondered why most of his grand, icky stuff comes from the watery abyssal depths?


  1. I looooove cheesy horror but I haven't checked this out yet! I know!

    1. Highly recommended then :) I swear, the second you witness the flappy flapping things in Yuzna's story-segment the human torso can never be the same again!