NECRONOMICON (1993) – The Dungeon Review!

Hey! Hey! It’s another 90s film! You can expect a couple more before the month ends! How wrong could you go with an anthology based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft (loosely based as it might be) with Brian Yuzna directing a segment and the wraparound story and the great Jeffrey Combs playing Mr. Lovecraft? There was definitely potential for awesomeness! Well, awesome it is not, but it does have some admirable qualities. Necronomicon is three stories with three different directors. The story that connects the trilogy sees H.P. Lovecraft finding the Necronomicon and reading three of its gnarly tales. Warning SPOILERS ahead.

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The Drowned

The Drowned is directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill) and is quite impressive visually. A dilapidated old mansion is the setting for this story. Edward de Lapoer has inherited the old mansion and finds the diary of his relative that tells of how he resurrected his dead wife and son. This great opening flashback scene was promising but the rest of the film that focuses on Edward was rather tiresome. The Drowned really does lose its mojo something awful once its story returns to the present which makes up half of its runtime. Edward immediately seeks out the Necronomicon which is hiding behind a portrait and bad things happen. What saved The Drowned from being a complete wash were some pretty damn nifty creature effects. It has an awesome Cthulhu-esque sea creature thing that makes an appearance in the finale. The Drowned was definitely my least favourite of the trio but it was not without a few highlights.

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The Cold

The Cold is directed by Shûsuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Crossfire, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and has the most cohesive story of the three. I enjoyed this tale despite its rather obvious final twist. A reporter is sent to the home of a woman they believe is connected to several murders. The woman tells the reporter how she came to be in the former home of Dr. Madden. The story she relays is that of her mother Emily and how she came to meet and fall in love with the doctor who learned the secret of eternal life. I wasn’t super crazy about the Emily Character played by Bess Meyer but Dr. Madden played by the talented David Warner was a real highlight. I didn’t think Warner and Meyer had any chemistry and I found it hard to buy that Madden would fall for this woman. There isn’t much in the way of special effects in this segment; what little is included didn’t look too bad though. The Cold is flawed, but I enjoyed the story and Warner enough to say I found it fairly entertaining.

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Whispers

Whispers is directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III) and was my favourite of the three. It is definitely light on story but the visuals are something else! A pregnant cop named Sarah and her partner/lover Paul are in a car accident and Paul is pulled out of the vehicle and dragged away. Sarah frees herself and pursues the man they call The Butcher. This is definitely the nastiest and goriest of the segments. There are some really neato effects and creatures in this one. The building and its many room, halls and hidden passages are properly spooky and creepy. Nothing beats the cave scene with Sarah’s discovery of Paul and the ugly flying beasts! Oh and what a properly wonderful grim ending! Despite a flimsy story Whispers is a helluva lot of fun to watch!

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Necronomicon ends with the H.P. Lovecraft connecting story. The finale did feel a bit rushed and I think they re-used the monster from the first segment, but it is energetic and Yuzna throws in some funky looking effects and a pretty cool creature! Jeffrey Combs is always some fun ain’t he?

Necronomicon

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Necronomicon is flawed all over the place but definitely has its share of memorable moments. Most anthologies have a weak link and that is certainly the case with Necronomicon’s first story The Drowned. Each of the films, even The Drowned has at least a little something to offer although I can not say any of these stories blew me away. As is the case with most Lovecraft adaptations I’ve seen they take plenty of liberties with the material and a limited budget prevents it from meeting the sheer spectacularness of Lovecraft’s written word. That said there are certainly a few Lovecraft adaptations that kick some rather serious ass; I would not call Necronomicon one of them. My feelings about Necronomicon overall are a bit lukewarm, but it is not a bad way to spend 90ish minutes. Lightly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, Brian Yuzna

Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Tony Azito, Juan Fernández, Brian Yuzna, Bruce Payne, Belinda Bauer, Richard Lynch, Maria Ford, Peter Jasienski, Denice D. Lewis, William Jess Russell, Vladimir Kulich, David Warner, Bess Meyer, Millie Perkins, Dennis Christopher, Gary Graham, Curt Lowens, James Paradise, Sebastian White, Signy Coleman, Obba Babatundé, Don Calfa, Judith Drake

11 Responses to “NECRONOMICON (1993) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. The world of 90s horror is a strange and uncertain place.

    • I was surprised by how many films I dug from 1990…I have 17 films shortlisted for my top 10. 1991 however…bloody hell! I still have a lot of films to see but at this point I have no idea how I am going to fill a top 10 list. Strange and uncertain…you bet!

      • 1990 is not as bad as some of the late 90s, at least from my research so far. Of course, I’m just beginning. Checking out the IMDb horror list for 1991, it’s so sparse that I wonder if that search function actually shows everything from a given year.

  2. I have read and watched a lot of stories ‘inspired’ by or adapted from Lovecraft and few actually manage to capture his works although “The Cold” sounds like it has potential.

  3. What the…I sorta,kinda like this movie,too! I remember I enjoyed seeing some favorites like David Warner, Richard Lynch and Millie Perkins. There are other 1990’s horror films I like(I think Romero’s The Dark Half is from 1993 as well),yet the lumps of coal outweight the shining stars. It would always be a pleasant surprise to see a horror movie from the 1990’s and think “Wow,that was actually good.” Bless your heart for taking on the whole uneven decade! But I will be reading with interest as always. And I still prefer the 90’s over the past 12 years of remake hell.

    • I might just like the 90s better than the 2000s myself! I have LOTS more to see but yeah, at least it isn’t remake hell! Lots of sequels in the 90s though! Lots and lots!

  4. […] Necronomicon is an anthology of three stories based loosely on the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. The wraparound story even features Lovecraft as a character played by Jeffrey Combs. The Drowned is directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill) and is visually appealing but has the weakest story of the trio. The story focuses on Edward de Lapoer who inherits an old mansion. Edward finds the diary of the relative who left him the home that tells the story of how he resurrected his dead wife and son. The flashback portion is well done and was full of promise. Unfortunately the latter half is mainly Edward and it is a stone cold drag. It does have a rather nice looking creature however. The second story is The Cold directed by Shûsuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and had a pretty good story but lacked a little in the visual department. This story focuses on Dr. Madden who discovered the secret to eternal life and the young woman who inadvertently becomes involved with him. The performance from the excellent David Warner is what makes this segment stand out. I wasn’t crazy about the choice of Emily for the woman in his life. Emily seemed far too young and was not terribly charismatic. There is no chemistry between the two whatsoever. The Cold is a flawed but fairly entertaining tale. Whispers is the best of the trilogy and has a decent story and pretty nifty visuals. Whispers was directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III) who also directed the wraparound story. A pregnant cop’s lover/partner is pulled from their car after an accident. She pursues the perpetrator unaware that she is entering into an unimaginable world of nightmarish horror! This segment has some blood, gore and nice looking effects; a creepy atmosphere too. The story is paper thin but it serves its purpose. Necronomicon is flawed right, left and center. Each segment has its strengths and weaknesses but none of them knocked my socks off. Necronomicon did not take up much of my time and it definitely had its moments but the anthology as a whole package is just a touch better than mediocre. To read the full review click here. […]

  5. Genkinahito here (almost two years later): I watched this yesterday and it wasn’t totally terrible.

    It’s reasonably entertaining.

    The Cold was the most Lovecraftian of the stories. It makes the mistake of turning everything into a monster mash with lots of action heroes when Lovecraft’s stories are usually about bookish academics having their world view crushed by the realisation that humanity is some insignificant speck to some ancient cosmic horror and everything they held true is false.

    Gloopy looking effects and grimness abound and that strikes me as very Lovecraftian.

    It’s easy enough to watch.

    And yes, Jeffrey Combs is some fun.

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