Directed by Elias, Tomas Almgren, Brian Barnes, Brian A. Bernhard, Grady Granros, Justin Powers, Jane Rose, Simon Ruben, Doug Sakmann and Ashley Thorpe.
Distributed by Biff Juggernaut Productions
I just do not know what to think of this movie. On one hand we have a series of interesting short films, most of which portray some sort of homage to the worlds created and inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, but interspersed with this is bland, pointless humor, softcore porn, and some rather insulting images of Howard Phillips himself. The mixture is uneven in a way that completely distracts from the stronger points of the film, which maddens me all the more.
LovecraCked! consists of nine short films held together by a wraparound story. A lot can be said of the nine pieces that form to make the meat of the film, as they are as varied and distinct as one can get, each with a differing view of Lovecraft’s milieu. Laying in stark contrast to this is the wraparound story; a weak, forced exercise in humor that never is as intelligent as it needs to be.
The work of H. P. Lovecraft is ripe for a good ribbing. The fruits of his work have gained so in popularity that they are easy marks for satire. LovecraCked! could and should have nailed this with its bookend portions, but there is so much humor at the author’s expense that the whole endeavor seems out of place. It is basically a man walking around with a microphone shoving it in various people’s faces yelling “Lovecraft?.. Lovecraft?” Dead on arrival. Even when we get to have the great Lloyd Kaufman do his version of imperviousness, it is far too little too late. The joke has been wasted, and I for one am done discussing it. Very disappointing.
Now down to the brass tacks of it all: the short films.
Segment 1: “The Statement of Randolph Carter”
Directed by Jane Rose, this is just what a good, silly Lovecraft film should be. Done with a great style, the film uses the bare bones of the narrative to get the point across. Throw in a few touches of the outlandish (look at what the telephone is constructed out of), and we have our first winner. I loved the images on camera: icky, weird, and crawling with chaos … as it should be.
Segment 2: “The History of the Lurkers”
More so an adaptation of “The Music of Erich Zahnn”, the film centers around a modern-day party man who just happens to be able to summon pure evil. This piece plays well off its predecessor as it has a slightly skewed look at the source material. Give Justin Powers and crew a pat on the back for originality for the true “Lurkers” are way creepier than I ever had previously thought!
Segment 3: “Remain”
One of the stronger straight pieces of the collection, “Remain” is filmed in stop-motion movement and details the interactions between an artist and an all-too-alive canvas. The film is beautiful with its mixture of movement and color.
Segment 4: “Bugboy”
A weird concoction of Lovecraft and Kafka as a man gets jilted by his girlfriend and then tries to become a better person … through insect metamorphosis. Shot with decent effects, the film works out well. A simple story told with simple means and having satisfying results; I wish more independent films were this controlled.
Segment 5: “Witches Spring”
Now we get to the more usual fare when dealing with independent films. This entry has acting that is just shy of overripe, low-key effects, and a story that is just resoundingly flat. A sultry witch tries to steal eternal youth from a young and horny man. This would be an okay storyline if you could show it to me in a way that I have never seen it before. Here we get a plain, sugar-free, cookie-cutter telling of the tale. Comparatively, the films that come before make this one play off all the worse.
Segment 6: “Alecto”
A man opens a doorway to a different world and is beset by madness. How much more Lovecraftian can you get? This is a decidedly strange and disjointed piece that takes a risk with visuals. Overlapping images, differing timelines, and puppets make for a satisfying and frustrating experience.
Segment 7: “Chaos of the Flesh”
A quirky short with no outwardly announced attachment to Lovecraft. It was not till I watched the credits that the “Spawn of Yog” credit listing clued me in to who we were actually seeing.
Segment 8: “Re-Penetrator”
Oh boy, here we go. This is the softcore version of a short film produced by Burning Angel. Here we get a look at what Stuart Gordon would have done if he had a genetic cross of Jeffery Combs and John Holmes to work with. Dr. Hubert Breast brings a cadaver back to life and then begins to fuck it. I know the inclusion of this on the disc will piss of some people, but I had a blast watching it. Special mention must be given to a special line uttered in the throes of passion. It is not everyday we get to hear a nice dead girl yell out, “EAT MY ZOMBIE PUSSY!” Kudos.
Segment 9: “and this was on a good day”
I love the lack of sex in Lovecraft’s writing. Its asexual tone allows for people to escape all of the petty things that go along with getting mud on your turtle. Relationships, fetishes, and perversions are not part of the original Lovecraftian oeuvre. These are latter day attachments that, for me, do not gel when mixed in. This final episode is so overburdened with sexual frustration, one may think that it is a discourse on H. P.’s lack of sexuality as an effect of his Puritanical upbringing and New England mentality. But to argue that would imply that there was an understanding of the source. From watching this short, I fail to see anything other than a person who knows little of Lovecraft’s life. Instead they get off on tentacle sex. Sorry, but the rampant fucking and overt sexual imagery laden throughout a stream of consciousness music video that contemplates where Howard gets his ideas does absolutely nothing for me.
Sure I just sat there and had fun watching “Re-Penetrator”, but that is not so much from Lovecraft as it is from Stuart Gordon. I loathe the image that Re-Animator has burdened upon Herbert West in the pop consciousness. West as a campy buffoon is one we have to live with, and in its own right it does work. I love the movie Re-Animator, but not its effects.
There is NOTHING to love about Howard fucking a T.V. set.
I have re-watched the segment a few times. I want to see brilliance, but each time I look I see sophomoric prattle. There are clues in it to issues deeper than the surface, but I cannot attribute them to the film itself. I figure I am just looking too deeply, and in the end I refuse to accept this as anything other than an insult.
Way to end a disc. The entirety of the package suffers from it. The DVD has a few other short films on it and an obligatory blooper reel but nothing else really of note. Give it a shot if you’re looking for some Lovecraft storytelling that’s out of the ordinary; just beware the pitfalls!
2 1/2 out of 5