"The Cold" is based on 'Cool Air'
Necronomican is 3 episode anthology film with a framing device which stars H.P Lovecraft himself. Jeffrey Combs plays the famous author who has discovered that the Necronomican is indeed real as is guarded by a secret sect of monks in their monastery. Lovecraft doing there under the pretence of researching some of their alchemical tombs but instead steals a key to the hidden vault that contains the infamous book of the Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred. The author copies tales from the book each of which is an episode of this anthology with another scene with Lovecraft shown between each story and at the end.
As the seals open after each story a monster is noticed by HP below the floor of the vault. It burst through the floor as one of the monks squeezes himself throw the vault doors in an inhuman manner. Lovecraft uses a sword to wound the creature and escape monk. The tentacled beast then devours the unholy man as Lovecraft flees the monastery with the Necronomican. As he doing so another monk warns that he will pay for his deeds.
The first story that Lovecraft copies to his journal is "The Drowned" - Edward De LaPoer, the last member of the De LaPoer family returns to his old family seat, an abandoned hotel. There, he learns from the estate agent the tragic history of the building and the fatal accident that killed his Uncles family and led to his suicide.
This triggers a flashback in Edward where calls the accident that took the life of his wife and his son. Searching around the house, Edward finds an old envelope containing a letter that sheds more light on his Uncle Jethro's tale of woe.
On returning to New England Jethro De LaPoer's ship wrecks on the rocks kissing his wife and child causing him to lose all faith. He renounces God and declares that he is no longer in welcome in his house. That night Jethro is visited by a hideous, seaweed covered 'fishman' who tell him he's not alone. He departs leaving behind him a large mysterious tomb. Jethro performs some unholy rites he finds contained in the book in an effort to bring his family back from the dead. It succeeds, but not entirely as he wanted. They return as abominable creatures – half human, half sea monster. Jethro realises the dreadful thing he has done and throws himself off the cliffs in a last act of redemption.
Ed finds Jethro's book and he too makes the mistake of trying to cheat death for the lives of his family. His dead wife returns and like decades before, She too is a monstrous human/sea creature hybrid. She attacks him and he wounds her with a show. She retreats revealing herself as a tentacled appendance to a much larger monster. This behemoth bursts through the floor. In the process of escaping De LaPoer dislodges a huge spiked chandelier from the ceiling that comes crashing down, impaling the sea beast (and presumably killing it). Edward Escapes to safety through the roof.
Boston has been plagued by a series of unsolved murders over the last 40 years. While investigating this crime, reporter Dale Porkel stumbles upon a strange apartment building run by a woman claiming to have a strange skin condition.
Dale asks her about some irregularities regarding the ownership of the building and after threatening her with the police she agrees to tell her story.
She tells Dale, that her mother, Emily, fled to Boston 20 years ago to escape her abusive stepfather and rented a room in this very building. The only other tenant was a hermit like Doctor called Madden who the landlady, Lena, informed her wasn't to be bothered. Emily's stepfather tracks her down and attacks her in her room. She manages to flee and is rescued by Dr Madden (David Warner) who stabs her stepdad with a scalpel. Madden takes her into his room which is freezing cold, he explains this is because he has an unusual medical condition. Emily is curious about the Dr and later spies on him, witnessing the landlady and him experimenting on a corpse. She faints and wakes up in her bed – Madden explains that it was all a dream.
The next day, Emily gets a job in a local diner while there she encounters some cops who were distributing leaflets looking for her missing step father. Emily confronts Madden and she comes clean, confessing he was responsible for her father's death. He shows her a book, the Necronomican and explains how he uses the knowledge contained it in it to extend his life. The process requires him to keep his body at a low temperature and that is why his apartment is always so cold. Emily falls in love with Madden and they have sex.
Lena (who is also in love with the good Doctor) threatens Emily and she leaves the building only to later discover that she is pregnant with Maddens child. She returns to the apartment and to find Doctor Madden and the landlady trying to kill the owner of the diner where she worked. Lena kills him and then trys to kill Emily. Madden defends her causing a lab fire in the struggle. The heat of flames literally melt Madden. The landlady produces a gun and shoots Emily. As she is dying, Emily tell her she is pregnant with Madden's baby. Lena save Emily.
Back to the present, Dale suspects that Emily's daughter is in fact Emily herself. She confesses and tells him she is still pregnant and that Lena and her waiting for the baby to arrive. Dale realised he has been drugged and is about to become Emily's next victim.
During the pursuit of a killed called 'The Butcher', 2 Philly cops flip their car . The male cop Paul is dragged from the car by our unseen killer while the female cop, Sarah struggles to escape her seatbelt. Sarah eventually releases the belt and follows a blood trail to a nearby ware house. Inside, She encounters an old man who calls himself, Mr Benedict and claims to be the owner of the building. They make their way through the warehouse until they are shot at by the blind 'Mrs Benedict', a crazy old lady who rants about 'The Butcher' being an alien. The couple then show Sarah a series of tunnels under the building that the killer may have escaped through.
The ways of the tunnels are carved with Aztec-like pictures that depict human sacrifices. Sarah is suddenly attacked out of the blue by the demented 'Mrs Benedict' and is pushed down a shaft that opens into a bone/body part strewn cavern. Sarah finds the corpse of Paul which is bizarrely animated despite lacking most of his head. It attacks her and then splits open and a strange bat-like creature emerges. It speaks to her claiming to be Paul and that the Aliens put is brain in that model has a means to reproduce. She faints and awakens with the 'Benedict's standing over her. They reveal to her that 'Mr Benedict' is in fact 'The Butcher' and is helping 'Mrs Benedict' who is a queen of an alien race that prey on humans. Sarah Passes out again and awakes in an hospital. The 'Benedict's' come in dressed as medics and tell her she was hallucinating after a bang to the head that she received during the crash. Then reality hits her and her surroundings change and she's still held captive in the cave.
This is an enjoyable anthology film if you're not too precious about Lovecraft or the treatment of his work. Combs makes a decent (if not too accurate) Howard Philips and it's good to see David Warner appear even if he doesn't get a whole lot to do. "The Drowned" reminds me very much of an episode of Tales from the Crypt crossed with 'The Monkeys Paw'. I did like the idea of the resurrected wife being a kind of meat-puppet on a Dagon-like creature.
"The Cold" is probably the best of the three stories and really the only one that has any sort of Lovecraftian source but a common fault with anthology films the characters lacked dept. Despite being a Brian Yuzna fan I thought "Whispers" was the weakest of the three and the situation and acting made it more unbeliable than a story about brain swapping aliens really should be. I did enjoy the ending despite it been something we've seen a dozen.
Necronomicon has a style and feel similar to Stuart Gordon's Lovecraftian pieces but fall short of their those films efforts. That not to say this isn't fun little flick and is worth a watch.
- Both Wikipedia and IMDB.com claim that "The Drowned" is based on 'The Rats in Walls'. The only elements taken from that tale was the protagonists name is De LaPoer which similar to literally figures name Delapore. The character in both pieces is also returning to their old family home. "The Cold" has its origins in the basic plot of 'Cool Air' but the film the element of murder to the life lengthening process. 'The Whispers in the Dark' has little to do with the story in this film. The only common ground are aliens who can transfer brains (though the Mi-Go of Lovecraft's story do it very differently than the aliens in 'Whispers').
- Brian Yuzna makes a cameo as a Cab driver in the framing episode.
- The fishman in "The Drowned" is obviously a Deep One but is never named as such.
- During the ritual to raise the dead in "The Drowned" the couplet That is not death which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even the death may die is uttered.
- Brian Yuzna had produced all Stuart Gordon's Lovecraft films (The Re-Animator Trilogy, Dagon and From Beyond).