Directed by John Landis Starring… Well, no one really.
This film is not so much a single film as a series of sketches, including news and current affairs parodies, mock advertisements and movie trailers and spoof pornography. The longest single segment is A Fistful of Yen, a half hour parody of Enter the Dragon which ends up as a Wizard of Oz pastiche.
Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu Starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianikis, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and Edward Norton
Riggan Thompson (Keaton) is an aging Hollywood star who longs to be taken seriously as an actor, but is instead remembered for his role in the Birdman series of superhero movies. He is seeking to put on his own theatrical adaptation of Raymond Carver’s ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’, while the voice of the character Birdman speaks to him and he believes that he is developing powers of levitation and telekinesis.
We start with a brief framing segment (‘The Library’) in which Lovecraft (Jeffrey Combs) steals the Necronomicon from a bunch of monks. He opens it up and begins to read the stories; we return to this narrative between segments.
“Welcome to a world where death is only the beginning”
Directed by Brian Yuzna Starring Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Simon Andreu and Elsa Pataky
This film is a sequel to Re-Animator, rather than an adaptation of the original story. It ignores much of the ending of the first film, however, largely in order to bring Combs’ West back in.
During the ‘Miskatonic massacre’, one of the reanimated corpses escapes and kills a young woman as her brother, Howard Phillips (geddit?), watches. Phillips later sees Herbert West (Combs) being taken away by the police. Years later, West is continuing his work in prison, when Phillips (Barry) arrives as the new prison doctor, bringing the last of the reagent and asking to work with West.
Directed by Stuart Gordon Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ken Foree and Ted Sorel
Never professionally published during Lovecraft’s life, “From Beyond” was written in 1920 and published in fanzine form in 1934. It deals with an unnamed narrator who visits his friend, Dr Crawford Tillinghast. Tillinghast has developed a way to activate dormant sensory organs to see higher dimensions. As Tillinghast’s device works, the narrator perceives strange other realities, until it becomes clear that Tillinghast means to feed him to the creatures, at which point he shoots the machine and passes out. Tillinghast has a heart attack.
The basics of Lovecraft’s story are present here, but given a strong Gordonian spin. Crawford Tillinghast (Combs) works for Dr Edward Pretorius (Sorel). When the resonator they’re building reveals higher dimensions to them, one of the spooky other-dimensional models kills Pretorius. Crawford runs away and is locked up in a psychiatric institution. Doctor Katherine McMichaels (Crampton) wants to prove he’s not insane, so she goes with him and tough cop Bubba Brownlee (Foree) to investigate the house and repeat the experiment.
It’s our second outing for “The Dreams in the Witch House,” so I’ll be brief. Physics student believes physics and witchcraft may be related; he is right. Old house, weird room, rat monster, interdimensional travel, baby-murdering, anti-Polish prejudice, heart eaten. OK? OK.
Antique dealer Robert Manning goes back to his family’s ancestral village of Greymarshe to look for his missing brother. While there, he encounters local squire type Morley (Lee), his beautiful daughter Eve (Wetherell), nervous butler Elder (Gough) and grumpy old professor Marshe (Karloff), together with his sunglassed factotum Basil. Eve has a wild hippie party that is totally unimportant to the plot except that as soon as Manning arrives at remote Craxted Lodge we get to see some tasteful seminudity.
Directed by Stuart Gordon Starring Ezra Godden and Chelah Horsdal
Lovecraft wrote “The Dreams in the Witch House” in 1932; it was published in 1933. The story follows a Miskatonic University student named Walter Gilman who moves into a rooming house once inhabited by a famous 17th-century witch, Keziah Mason. Gilman thinks that his research in physics and mathematics is actually bringing him close to understanding Keziah’s magic. Spoilers: he’s right. Even more spoilers: it doesn’t do him any good.
Gordon’s adaptation of “Dreams” is a pretty faithful retelling of the Lovecraft story, albeit with less interdimensional travel to weird alien cities and high-gravity worlds and more boobs and jump scares. The story is updated to the modern day along with the physics (the film is set only 10 years ago, but already Gilman’s computer looks hilariously dated), and helpful neighbour Frank Elwood is replaced by distressed single mother and potential love interest Frances.
Directed by Daniel Haller Starring Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee and Ed Begley
We’ve covered it elsewhere, so I’ll be brief: Whateley house holds invisible monster; Wilbur Whateley attempts evil plan; dog kills Wilbur; monster, unattended, goes on rampage; heroic academics banish monster; relative good triumphs; relative yay. You can read it here.
The film adaptation of “The Dunwich Horror”moves away from the background-heavy story with Henry Armitage (Begley) as the hero and focuses more on the relationship between sorcerer Wilbur Whateley (Stockwell) and a new character, Nancy Wagner (Dee). Whateley needs Wagner for his ritual because, in order to bring the Old Ones through into our world, he needs “the right girl” to lie on an altar and writhe around. The whole Dunwich cult aesthetic is blended with 60s images of witchcraft and Satanism.
Directed by Matthew Vaughan Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella, Taron Edgerton and Sophie Cookson
Harry ‘Galahad’ Hart (Firth) is the top agent for Kingsman, an international group ‘operating at the highest level of discretion’; in essence, a non-partisan intelligence service dedicated to peace above national interest. The death of Kingsman Lancelot (very briefly Jack Davenport) alerts the agency to the existence of a conspiracy led by software mogul Richmond Valentine (Jackson) and his deadly associate Gazelle (Boutella). It also triggers the search for a new Lancelot, a post for which Hart recommends London council estate lad Eggsy (Edgerton).
Directed by Jonathan English Starring Tom Hardy, Rutger Hauer, Ingrid Pitt, Tony Todd
It’s the Iron Age, or maybe the Bronze Age, and the powerful but decadent Minoan civilisation is collecting youths to sacrifice to the Minotaur, a big monster that lives in an underground labyrinth. Humble shepherd Theo (Tom Hardy) is upset because his love interest was sent to be eaten, but his dad (Rutger Hauer) is more worried about protecting him. When the Minoans show up, however, Theo sneaks into the tribute line and is dumped into the labyrinth together with a well-meaning sidekick, a sneering rival who does a predictable face turn, the sneering rival’s love interest, a mouthy girl, a girl who doesn’t talk at all, a crazy girl and a comedy fat guy. And maybe someone else, who knows.
Minoan queen Raphaella takes a fancy to Theo and tries to help him fight the Minotaur. Spoilers: the good guys win.