Movie Review: LovecraCked! The Movie
The genre of horror-comedy really only succeeds if the humor is very, very dark and is an extension of the horror. Some good examples are Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II and, to a degree, George Romero and Stephen King’s original Creepshow. Zombies being mowed down by a lawn mower, Bruce Campbell’s hand trying to kill him and Adrienne Adrienne Barbeau’s boozy performance are all integral to each film’s story and the nervous laughter each bit generates quickly escalates into wild guffaws.
The premise behind LovecraCked is that ten filmmakers shot ten different film adaptations of different short stories by pioneering, but little known, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. With only one exception, all of the short films are pretty straightforward horror and, while somewhat on the hit-or-miss side, they are all mostly successful. They also are all different enough to avoid dull repetition and while some really outshine the others, there are none so tragic that they detract from the others.
Therefore, I find it almost inexplicable why the mastermind behind the project, the singly-named Elias, chose to string the films together with an absolutely horrid collection of humor segments directed by and starring himself as an inept reporter investigating the Lovecraft mythos. One so-called running gag has Elias trying to interview a crooked Wall Street stockbroker that gets more and more cringe-worthy as it goes on. The only faintly amusing bit has an interview with Troma‘s Lloyd Kaufman, who is always entertaining whenever he appears on-screen, such as when he basically plays himself in Terror Firmer.
On the whole, LovecraCked doesn’t hold together that well as a single feature film, but all of the shorts are interesting in their own separate ways. The only Lovecraft I am familiar with are his tales of otherworldly demons, such as Yog-Sothoth and Dagon (who is featured in an under-rated film by Stuart Gordon). I wasn’t aware that he wrote more “domestic” horror tales. Due to the low budget nature of LovecraCked, most of the shorts deal with more pedestrian horror than trying to get into the whole Cthulhu Mythos or deal with the Necronomicon.
Here is the rundown of the shorts in LovecraCked in the order in which they appear:
1) The Statement of Randolph Carter, dir. Jane Rose. The first short sets the tone for the rest of them, by being moody, atmospheric and pretty creepy without a big budget nor with any real development. Randolph is assisting an explorer dropping into the bowels of the Earth, which turns out to be the bowels of Hell. Much is accomplished with most of the action happening off-screen. The only drawback is that the film seems to be more of a snippet of a story than a full-blooded adaptation. However, I’ve only barely read anything by Lovecraft, so I don’t really know if there’s more to the written tale or not.
2) The History of the Lurkers, dir. Justin Powers. Again, this seems like more of a set-up to a story than a full story, but without the interesting direction of Randolph Carter. I really thought that once we were introduced to the idea of the lurkers that something else was going to happen.
3) Remain, dir. Ashley Thorpe. This is the lone fully experimental short of the bunch, featuring just the interaction between an artist and his demonic canvas. Again, kind of slight, but very beautiful to watch.
4) Bugboy, dir. Tomas Almgren. Probably the most complete film of the set and somewhat reminiscent of David Cronenberg where a man transforms into a grotesque bug creature after being jilted by a former lover. Shot in a grainy black-and-white and featuring top-notch special effects, this effort is the real standout of the entire collection.
5) Witch’s Spring, dir. Brian Barnes. Despite being shot rather plainly with an anti-climactic story, this film still works on a basic, entertaining level. A hot chick brings a horny guy back to her flat and pretty much does, not what you really want, i.e. nudity, but what you’d expect.
6) Alecto, dir. Simon Ruben. A disjointed, but beautifully shot and fully creepy story about a musician who wigs out on his student after recalling a traumatic episode from his past brought about by a piece of music. Really well done and the second most satisfying and fully developed short after Bugboy.
7) Chaos of the Flesh, dir. Tomas Almgren. This is Almgren’s second entry and is another black-and-white film like Bugboy. Unlike his other film, Chaos has a really predictable story like Witch’s Spring, but is at least saved here by the most disturbing-looking creature of the entire collection.
8) Re-Penetrator, dir. Doug Sakmann. This is a semi-hardcore parody of Re-Animator. And I say “semi-hardcore” because while I believe the two actors are having actual sex in the short, there’s no intense close-ups of the action like in your traditional porn film. While this is a funny idea and nicely executed in the horror-comedy vein like I described in my opening paragraph — except with porn — it seems extremely out of place alongside all of the other traditional horror shorts like Chaos of the Flesh, Bugboy and Alecto.
9) and this was on a good day, dir. Brian Bernhard. This is more of a music video than a short film. Nice animation. Kinda forgettable song.
For more info and to purchase LovecraCked, please visit the film’s official site.