Most of the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft takes place in the 1920s and 1930s. Most film adaptations decide to put the stories in the era they were filmed, but a few take the leap for period production elements. Then you have this film, which moves the action to the 40’s, has a character named Lovecraft, contains the Necronomicon and a huge monster rising up to destroy the earth. It is as if the pulp magazines of the war years exploded all over the screen.
It is 1948 in Los Angeles, and everyone uses magic. Well, everyone except for private detective H.P. Lovecraft (Fred Ward). It makes his job a bit tougher, since the police are using spells to catch the rampaging criminal gangs summoning demons to whack targets. Let’s not mention the werewolves, vampires and unicorns wandering around. Things take a turn for the weird when Amos Hacksaw (David Warner) hires Lovecraft to retrieve a stolen tome: a little book called the Necronomicon. Before you can say Cthulhu, all kinds of craziness starts to happen.
Turns out that the local crime lord (and former pal to Lovecraft) Harry Bordon (Clancy Brown), may have sent his hulking zombie after it. Lovecraft’s old flame Connie Stone (Julianne Moore) has a few clues of her own to share, but is the price worth it? Let’s not forget the car full of gremlins, a creature bursting from a pot of oatmeal and the sacrifice of a lovely virgin. Lovecraft has his work cut out for him, especially since he won’t stoop to actually Cast a Deadly Spell.
- Fred Ward is a hoot as the hard boiled, square jawed detective
- The concept and production are handled really well
- Never takes itself too seriously, which helps with all the crazy creature effects
- Some of the humor falls pretty flat
- None of the monsters are all that scary
- The tone of the film never quite gels
Oh man, how badly do I want to love this movie? I really do. But in the end it just never quite comes together. The concept is fun, the actors are game and the visual effects are pretty darn impressive. But the humor doesn’t always land, and contrasts with some of the over the top gore that ends up splashing around. Instead of going for slapstick humor, the film should have embraced a drier and darker variety of comedy, that would have fused well with the horror and noire overtones. It is a fun film. If you’re looking for something a little bit different, this sure fits the bill.
Scores(out of 5)
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