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Friday, August 11, 2017

Cthulhu Mansion (1992)



My Lovecraft marathon continues with Cthulhu Mansion. With that title you would think that it would fit in nicely with the other items that I’ve reviewed so far. But this one isn’t even really inspired by Lovecraft so much as they used the name Cthulhu.

We are introduced to a group of thugs who rob a drug dealer, killing him in the process. Making off with his product they find themselves trapped at a carnival surrounded by police. They kidnap a magician, his daughter, and assistant so they can use them to escape. Since one of the gang was shot earlier by the police the criminals decide to hold up at their captive’s house until the heat is off and their friend recovers. What no one realizes is the magician has dabbled in real magic and something evil is lurking in the basement. Something that they accidentally let loose on the world.

Before I go into what I thought of Cthulhu Mansion generally as a movie I wanted to talk about its connections to Lovecraft. Basically, there aren’t any other than the title. The movie makes no mention of any of the mythos from the books. They don’t even use the idea of the Necronomicon but instead have a small book with Cthulhu written across the front. The altar where the demonic bad guy ends up even has a generic pentagram on it. This is a big old pile of false advertising.

As a movie Cthulhu Mansion isn’t much better. I’ve seen the bad people forcing their way into a house unleashing evil plot many times. It was almost standard fare in the ‘80s and the overused plot hook continues to show up today. The characters are also familiar variations on a theme with the really bad guy controlling the group, a good kid being pulled into a bad situation, and of course the comic relief as just a few examples. There is nothing new here. Combine this with pacing that is so uneven that it makes the movie feel much longer than it is makes getting thru this one a chore.

Ash would know how to handle this...
Speaking of nothing new the big bad should sound very familiar. It attacks one female character with plants, possesses another making them get all gooey and laugh maniacally with creepy white eyes. There are even giant wooden tree hands that come out of a fridge and attack one of the characters. I guess maybe that was part Evil Dead 2 and part Ghostbusters? And for the big finale it reanimates the corpses of friends to have them attack. This damn thing feels less inspired by H.P. Lovecraft than it does a bad clone of Evil Dead!

Before watching the movie I found out that Juan Piquer Simon was the director. This made me both excited and concerned for what I was about to see. Simon has made some awesome flicks like Pieces and Slugs (I like it!) but they are unintentionally good. Basically, his stuff is bat shit crazy with random things happening. When it works we get something amazing like Pieces. When it doesn’t we get a movie like Cthulhu Mansion. I so wanted to like this one but I didn’t. I recommend avoiding it and maybe watch Pieces instead.


© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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