Most of you probably recognize the word “Necronomicon” from the EVIL DEAD series – certainly that’s how I recognized it. The Necronomicon is apparently the legendary book of the dead, filled with stories and legends of death that unlock the secret to “the other side.” I’d like to unlock the secret of how to spell Necronomicon, as I’ve had to back-space a hundred times while writing that damn word. Anyhow, in this film, we’re introduced to this book by its reader, the famous author H.P. Lovecraft (played by B-movie cult star Jeffrey Combs), and in reading the book we are presented with three different Lovecraft tales. Anthologies rarely succeed, and despite a surprising amount of money thrown at this one, the result is pretty mixed.
The first tale is the so-so telling of “The Drowned,” about a man grieving the loss of his wife and daughter and with the help of a certain book (I’m tired of typing its name) finds a way to resurrect them. Of course, in just about every tale of loss and resurrection, things post-resurrection aren’t quite what they were pre-resurrection.
This sequence is directed by Christophe Gans, the terrific director who went on to make the BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF (a must-see). Here, he starts strong, particularly in the use of a flashback to show the first guy who tried to resurrect his family with the book of the dead. But by the end, with the reveal of the demon monster, the sequence descends into a mess of special effects. The irony sometimes is that these B-movies like to show off their budget by using special effects, but the end result ends up looking even more bobo (yes, that’s my own word, based on the famous sneakers – don’t go stealing it!).
In the second tale, “The Cold,” a reporter (Dennis Christopher) visits a lady in an old Boston townhouse to determine the history of a series of murders that took place there. The story flashes back to this lady’s evolving relationship with her doctor-landlord, played by B-movie king David Warner. There are some decent twists and turns, but the story isn’t particularly horrific or satisfying and the direction is pretty clunky. I’d skip over story #2 if I were you.
Finally we end with “Whispers,” which tells the tale of a policewoman and her partner who track down a serial killer, “The Butcher” into an abandoned house – and eventually into a cave. This last sequence is directed by sick-o Japanese director Brian Yuzna (producer of THE RE-ANIMATOR). Story-wise, it’s a mess and makes little sense. But it erupts in such a blast of extraordinarily gory special effects that pound you relentlessly for about twenty minutes straight, that you can’t help but enjoy it visually (even if it’s essentially non-sensical).
I’m not sure what to make of NECROMONICON. Overall it’s a pointless movie, but as far as straight-to-video flicks go, it has something to it. There’s about fifty minutes of good stuff in a ninety-minute movie here, but that’s about forty-nine minutes more than most. Don’t run out to see it, but if you can TiVo it and skip through story #2, you should have a good time.
RATING: ** and a half (out of four)