Monday, 25 July 2011

Review - Necronomicon (1993 - Dir. Christophe Gans, Shusuke Kaneko, Brian Yuzna)

Necronomicon is an anthology based (loosely) on H.P. Lovecraft's work, with three parts, each directed by a different director. Brian Yuzna also directs the linking sections with the ubiquitous Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), in subtle facial make-up to play the part of Mr Lovecraft.

I saw this when it first came out and really enjoyed the first section, directed by Christophe Gans. I’ve seen it to buy for a while on DVD, but it’s always been really expensive, especially since I wasn’t that bothered about the other two segments. Finally, it has come down to a vaguely reasonable price. I was slightly nervous that my memory would let me down and it would all be rubbish.

Luckily, the Christophe Gans section still works today. Easily the best part. It has the right feeling for a Lovecraft tale and he’s worked miracles with what must have been a small budget. There are some ropey, very early CGI shots but the practical effects are great with some greasy tentacles and a huge one-eyed monster (oo-er).  Atmospheric throughout and a beautiful final shot. Christophe Gans was obviously destined for greater things.

The second section by Shusuke Kaneko is okay. It still retains the feel of Lovecraft, plus David Warner is in it. What is actually happening is fairly obvious from the start and the way that a young lady falls for an obviously mad older doctor, who just happens to be freezing cold to the touch, is a tad preposterous. Not the best of chat up lines: ‘Here. Feel my hands. They’re freezing cold. Are you intrigued to find out what else is a bit chilly?’ Works for him though so I can’t knock it. Standard issue but enjoyable.

Brian Yuzna has directed and produced some great films: Return of the Living Dead Part 3, Society and Re-Animator. The third section of this film seems to be the start of his tone becoming more unpleasant, with characters who you don’t care about, which carried on into his later films, such as Faust. He was probably ahead of his time as many modern horror films follow this trend now. The main problem with this section is that it doesn’t have a Lovecraftian feel and the creatures are laughable. It is a shame that the three parts get progressively worse.

The linking sequences in the library are fun, but rubbish. The ending is bonkers, but it does make you think that a full film involving Lovecraft killing monsters would be great. Definitely needs Jeffrey Combs to play him though.

As a total package, there’s a lot of Lovecraftian fun to be had. No section is truly awful and you could do a lot worse for a Friday night horror.
6/10 (1st section 7/10, 2nd section 6/10, 3rd section 4/10)

If you like this you could also try:
Re-Animator, Silent Hill, Brotherhood of the Wolf, Return of the Living Dead 3.

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