Quantcast FIRST LOOK: LovecraCKed! The Movie review

FIRST LOOK: LOVECRACKED! THE MOVIE (Aug. 06) by Bunni Speigelman

In 1921, a minor pulp writer wrote, "Personally I would not care for immortality in the least. There is nothing better than oblivion, since in oblivion there is no wish unfulfilled."

But like many of his creations, including the mighty Cthulhu, the name of H.P. Lovecraft did not die when he did in 1937. He currently has an IMDb page that is the envy of any scriptwriter (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0522454/), and some of the most popular and critically acclaimed contemporary horror writers credit Lovecraft as a major influence on their work including Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman.

Yet some of the films associated with the name of Lovecraft are so mind bendingly awful, they can actually inspire the type of madness he described in many of his tales if viewed by an unsuspecting viewer. Would Lovecraft want his name attached to films like Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Alone in the Dark, Corpse-O-Rama, Curse of the Crimson Altar, and Dagon?

And so the knowing filmgoer hears the name of Lovecraft and approaches the film with a mix of anticipation and skepticism.

LovecraCked! The Movie follows in the tradition of Out of Mind, Necronomicon, and the Shunned House. Unlike films like ‘Beyond the Wall of Sleep’ that attempt to take a short story and pad it out to a full length film, LovecraCked is an anthology of short films submitted by a variety of directors; shot in several different countries; employing a variety of mediums including computer animation, puppetry, and stop action animation; and ranging from straight adaptations to porntastic spoofs. The advantage to having such a wide range of different shorts is the film contains something for almost every horror fan from Cthulu themed music videos and Troma-esque splatstick porn to eerie graveyard encounters and psychological thrills.

Two of the most effective segments stayed true to the quiet, but desperate tone of Lovecraft's tales. The Statement of Randolph Carter, a straight adaptation of the short story, is just as chilling as the original. Instead of falling into the trap of attempting to show the Elder Ones, director Jane Rose recognized that the power of Lovecraft's work is in hinting at, but not revealing the grotesque outright. Simon Ruben's Alecto is a psychological thriller of sorts featuring a traumatized violin teacher and the piece of music that haunts him. Although Alecto isn't based on any work by Lovecraft, the theme of the piece - an isolated, but refined and scholarly man driven to insanity - often appeared in his work.

In complete opposition to those pieces is the splatacular Burning Angel.com's Re-Penetrator, a spoof of the Re-animator. Not since the escalator murder in Terror Firmer have I seen a woman covered in blood play so gleefully with a man's internal organs. And there's more nudity and sex in this film! Who doesn't like that? Not to mention that it's not often you hear the line, "Eat my zombie pussy", nevermind see it done with so much Karo syrup. Definitely the type of film that appeals to those of us looking forward to the premiere of Poultrygeist.

The disadvantage of having such a wide range is that there isn't any real emotional continuity for the audience. The film goes from serious and somber to funny to disturbing to chaotic to funny so many times that I almost ended up with motion sickness.

Unlike other Lovecraft anthology films, the frame provided to hold to these shorts together is slapstick comedy: a clueless journalist, played by Elias, on a low budget, but unnamed, show attempts to discover the facts about the life of Lovecraft. In his quest, he finds himself confronted by a competing documentary crew, an embezzling business man, hungry dogs, an arguing alien couple, a Stephen King obsessed fanboy, and Lloyd Kaufman. Elias not only stars as the man actor in the narrator frame, but is also LovecraCked's director, writer, and producer.

The frame provides some funny moments particularly the fan boy, Lloyd Kaufman, and the competing documentary crew, but does the frame do justice to the creepy tone of some of the shorts? It fits with BurningAngel.com's Re-Penetrator and the music video "And that was on a good day", but jibes with the segments trying to be genuinely creepy.

Further some of the framing sequences didn't seem to naturally dovetail with the segments or even offer smooth segue into the material. The frame could have gone a long way towards helping the transitions in tone and content, but was often disconnected from the material it was attempting to join together mainly. Also the jokes, many of which worked, after a while seemed a bit generic. What does an insane failed embezzler have to do with Lovecraft? Well, nothing, which is supposed to be the point of the humor, but after a while I began to long for an inside joke or two like the journalist eating a box of Mythos for breakfast (http://www.cthulhulives.org/toybox/MythOs.html).

Although there are those who snear at Lloyd Kaufman's claim that he is "making art", a film like LovecraCked reveals how difficult it is to be successful at this type of comedy. Although Elias has moments of genuine success, like the spoofed reference to Man Bites Dogs with the dueling camera crews, they ended up being fairly problematic by increasing the number of tone shifts in the film rather than easing these transitions. These segues were originally intended to be a single short film, which would have eliminated awkward shifts back and forth.

So overall, there are some worthwhile moments in this film, but you might be better served by waiting for it to come out on video so you can fast forward through some of the less engaging shorts.

- Bunni Speigelman

Visit: www.biffjuggernaut.com/lovecrackedthemovie

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