Column: Cthulhu Eats the Movies: H P Lovecraft The Tomb

By Brian M. Sammons

lovecraft_tombH P Lovecraft The Tomb. Director: Ulli Lommel. Cast: Victoria Ullmann, Christian Behem, Michael Barbour.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, do I have a treat for all of you today! We’re going to take a look at a movie based off of one of Lovecraft’s earlier tales. Unlike his later cosmic horror stories, which would become collectively known as the Cthulhu Mythos, “The Tomb” was a very gothic, moody tale in the same vein as Poe. Do you remember it? Yeah, it’s the one where a group of strangers are abducted by a masked sadist called “the Puppetmaster”, who locks them up in a warehouse filled with cheesy-looking Halloween props and causes them to torture and maim each other as part of his sick game as he watches on a closed-circuit TV camera, and manically cackles and taunts them over an intercom.

Oh, wait a second; that doesn’t sound right. Give me a moment to reread my copy of “The Tomb” and I’ll be right back. Don’t worry; it’s very short, so this won’t take long.

Okay, I’m back and this movie has NOTHING whatsoever to do with H. P. Lovecraft, any of this stories, or even tombs in general. This flick is nothing more than the old bait-and-switch that conmen and swindlers have been using since just about forever. Worse yet, this was a painful bad movie. Not funny bad, or even “so bad it’s good” bad, it was just bad bad. Yes, dear readers, I have suffered greatly to bring you this review, so don’t let my sacrifice be for nothing; let the following tale of woe be a warning to you all.

Where to start in describing the liveliest awfulness that was this movie? How about with the title? Surely, the incompetent cretins that made this movie couldn’t mess that up, could they?

Hell, yes, they could and they did.

The way the name of this film appears on both the start and end title cards is H P LOVECRAFT THE TOMB. Now, if this flick were based on the story, “The Tomb”, by one H.P.L. (which it most certainly is not), then shouldn’t that be something like H. P. Lovecraft’s The Tomb? I mean, a couple of periods and an apostrophe “s” go a long way in showing the difference between proper possession and the fact that the filmmakers are so idiotic that even good grammar escapes them.

Okay, abhorrently-inaccurate-on-many-levels title aside, let’s talk about the story, such as it is. A man and woman, and a few disposable others used as gore fodder, are abducted, dropped into a brightly-lit warehouse (the “tomb” of this movie) and given a set of cryptic clues from an unseen antagonist on how they can play his game and survive. This “evil crypt” is decorated with plastic baby-doll-heads painted in blackface and covered in syrup, Styrofoam gargoyles, Halloween masks, particleboard coffins, Parker Brothers Ouija Boards, and various other props more at home in your neighborhood haunted house than in a serious film.

The sadistic, insane supergenius of this Saw ripoff just so happens to be a fan of H. P. Lovecraft. Because of that, we get the only tenuous link to Lovecraft this film has to offer, i.e.: name-drops. This flick name-drops Charles Dexter Ward and Pickman, has characters read random quotes from the “Ward” and “Whisperer in the Darkness” stories, and the bad guy has some history with a place called “the witch house”. Even H.P.L. himself is namedropped and then quickly forgotten. And that’s it; that’s all the Lovecraftian goodness that can be wrung out of this awful little film.

The rest of this movie simply goes round and round the two main characters as they wander around the warehouse aimlessly, bumping into various people who have somehow wronged “the Puppetmaster”, only to watch them die quickly before any useful information can be passed on. Seriously, the number of people these two find by happenstance, who are just coincidently moments from death, is staggering. Which is a bad thing for the protagonists, as they must figure out who their tormentor is, why they were brought to the warehouse…I mean “tomb”…how to escape, and hopefully, how to do all of that before we, the audience, fall into a boredom-induced coma.

Incompetently filmed, directed, written, and acted, set-dressed with laughably bad props, with amateurish special effects and cheesy-looking filmed-on-DVD video quality, this movie is the epitome of a no-budget, Godawful horror movie. While some low-budget movies make up for their meager resources with something – be it style, a sense of fun, a good story, or just an interesting premise – H P LOVECRAFT THE TOMB offers nothing but dull tedium. I cannot recommend this movie to anyone, not even as a joke, so avoid this flick like it was a rabid shoggoth with a flamethrower and a chip on its shoulder.

Final Verdict: not Lovecraftian, enjoyable, good, or something you should ever watch. Do yourself a favour and skip this one.

H P Lovecraft The Tomb is available from Amazon.com