Though there are a couple of creepy installments to this "Lovecraftian" compendium, Judge Bill Gibron still had a hard time appreciating this so-called spoof of the famed horror writer.
Oh, yeah? Well, Cthulhu to you, too!
>From the moment of his birth through the almost impossible days of his childhood, Howard Phillips Lovecraft seemed destined to divine the darker side of existence. With a traveling salesman father who went insane when his son was three (and died of syphilis when H.P. was eight) and a youth measured equally by illness and inspiration, the seeming child prodigy appeared poised for actual greatness. Unfortunately, poverty played a far more important role than fame in the future author's fortunes, and the dire straits of his life led him to thoughts of suicide. A nervous breakdown kept him from finishing high school and a brief, loveless marriage didn't make matters any better. By the time his fiction was finally getting published, he was destitute and dying of intestinal cancer. While highly prolific in the last decade of his life, H.P. never saw any success from his efforts. It was long after his death at age 46 that fright fans, looking for something a little more mythical in the macabre, embraced Lovercraft's surreal supernaturalism. Today, he is a recognized master of forbidden knowledge and inhuman horrors.
So why, pray tell, would someone want to parody this important fear figure? What would inspire writer/director/single-named star Elias to use Lovecraft's works—and a series of short films based on same—as the insert material for a lame, limp lampoon? LovecraCked! The Movie is really nothing more than a mini-film festival accented by bad comedic bits posing as investigative journalism. The set up, you see, has Elias running around with a microphone in hand, making up nonsense about Lovecraft's life and asking other actors (supposedly real people on the street) what they think about the enigmatic author. None of the linking material works—it is not well written, adequately acted, or particularly perceptive. Instead, it grows very irritating almost instantly, mandating a carefully poised finger on the DVD remote's fast-forward button. The really sad part is that most of the movies featured between the buffoonery are actually very watchable. Some are obviously better than others, but overall, they capture Lovecraft's leanings and pay tribute to him in a way that's far more effective than Mr. One Name's idea of cleverness.
Since the short films are the most important element here, it seems logical to discuss them separately. It's the only real way to determine whether this collection is worth your time, or if the so-called funny business that ties together the sequences really sinks this effort. Let's begin with:
The Statement of Randolph Carter—A mysterious book leads a pair of paranormal explorers to a decidedly deadly fate.
Amateurly acted and over before it starts, Statement still provides enough unexpected thrills to warrant a recommendation. While the short running time does undermine any attempt at atmosphere or mood, the plot is handled adeptly and the ending shows off some substantive Lovecraftian flair. Score: 82
The History of the Lurkers—Otherworldly creature, posing as smut peddlers and porn lovers, threaten to destroy mankind.
Basically a one-note joke (and a dirty one at that), there is still something endearing about this party animal as summoner of Satan that works surprisingly well. Though it could have done a better job of tying its nods to the adult industry into the storyline, the results are still foolish and fun. Score: 80
Remains—An artist grows familiar with his frequently disturbing canvases.
Using a wonderful stop-motion animation technique, Remains is a minor masterpiece about artistic temperament that is startling in its insight. When combined with Alecto, it's one of the few reasons to visit this scattershot DVD. Score: 85
Bugboy—A young man loses his lover, and turns into a bloodsucking insect as a result.
The man-into-mantis storyline, aiming for a post-modern Metamorphosis, is more confusing than creative. We are given no explanation for the change, and the sudden blood lust feels gratuitous and antithetical to the film's overall tone. Still, the visuals are inviting and, for pure gore goodness, this is the best LovecraCked! has to offer. Score: 70
Witches Spring—A young woman picks up a man on the Internet. He soon learns of her evil plans for his person.
Predictable and kind of plain (after all, what hot chick is going to cruise the 'Net for viable man meat?), Spring still has some interesting elements to recommend it. The direction is decent, and the acting more than capable. That we can foresee what will happen well in advance of our hero is an indicator of both the movie's mediocrity and Lovecraft's occasional lack of narrative grace. Score: 65
Alecto—Troubled by memories from his past, a violin teacher turns violent when dealing with one of his students.
Expertly helmed and effectively presented, this story of memories and murder is well-made and flawlessly realized. Never giving us more information than we need to experience the suspense and concluding on a decidedly disturbing note, this is one of the best offerings of the set. Score: 88
Chaos of the Flesh—After rescuing a woman in trouble, a man learns that the act of salvation has a very sinister price attached.
Anyone whose seen Jenifer, Dario Argento's just plain awful installment of Showtime's Master of Horrors will feel a substantial twinge of déjà vu with this similarly styled piece. Perhaps the biggest flaw in this otherwise effective feature is its running time. Just as it seems to get going, the narrative has shot its wad and we're done. Score: 75
Re-Penetrator—Dr. Hubert Breast resurrects dead girls with his day-glo serum…so he can have sex with their zombified bodies. Hmmm…
This is actually a small scene from Burning Angel's full-length hardcore porn version of the famous Lovecraft undead epic. Trimmed of all the XXX material, what we end up with is faux fornication accented by lots of fake blood and other effects fluids. Not as sexy or satiric as the filmmakers believe it to be, this is a very dull segment. Score: 50
And This Was a Good Day—A Lovecraft-inspired music video.
Toss in an arcane segment where Troma titan Lloyd Kaufman ignores Elias and goes on a five-minute hard-sell spiel regarding his company's purchasable back catalog, and you've got a hit-or-miss compendium with more missteps than successes.
On the technical side, the DVD offers varying aspect ratios—everything from 1.33:1 full-screen to non-anamorphic 1.78:1 letterboxing. Transfers are either terrific or terrible, with few falling in between. In addition, many of these "films" were actually shot on video, and we do get the occasional flaring and bleeding that comes with such an analog approach. The Dolby Digital Stereo is acceptable, and the few bonus features (three more short films—none very interesting—and a collection of bloopers and music videos) do very little to complement the material provided.
Biff Juggernaut, the entity responsible for this production, can be proud of finding a viable avenue to get these varying conceits out into the moviegoer mainstream. Unfortunately, their efforts were more "cracked" than Lovecrafted. Guilty.
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