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An independent film that acts as a sort of self-contained short-film mini-festival, LovecraCked! The Movie proves to be predictably patchy in effect and quality, but singleminded in its enthusiasm -- a similar agenda to that of horror-comedy film distributors, Troma, who are famous for horror-sex-gore extravaganzas that might be characterised as low-budget and self-indulgent but are certainly neither comfortably mainstream nor restrained. Defining the motivation that lies behind such enthusiasm is rather difficult, but it seems to come down to an almost experimental desire to find humour in grotesqueries and horror in nonsense and extreme imagery, and to indulge in bad-boy mischief-making through sheer outrageous exuberance. If such is the case, LovecraCked! succeeds admirably in its aims.

Less successful is its attempt to give divergent material enough coherence to be accurately considered a thematic and artistic unity -- at least in any traditional sense. Though in terms of technique closer to Monty Python and Creepshow, the anthology film is branded as being inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. However, the level of thoughtful engagement with the iconic horror writer and his stories is widely variable -- sometimes capturing the essence of his world-view, sometimes making ironic comment on it, sometimes merely offering a superficial veneer of Lovecraftianism attached to something else entirely. The nine short films swing from the surreal to the obvious, from the funny to the gross, from the creepy to the pornographic; some feature traditional narratives while others are symbolist mood pieces; some are in black-and-white, some in colour; most are live-action but one is a cartoon in the tradition of Monty Python's Terry Gilliam -- and there's even a very funny segment that features an interview with Lloyd Kaufman from Troma. It is a strange mix that viewers will find either invigorating or infuriating, depending on their cultural predisposition.

Elias interviews Lloyd Kaufman

Whether or not director Elias gave much thought to the ordering of the separate short films or to narrative pacing, the progression of the pieces seems somewhat random, woven into a chaotic matrix by a mockumentary frame that features Elias as an inept reporter ostensibly tracing the path of Lovecraft's career. He questions the reality of the writer's 'legend', interviews irrelevent strangers, discovers nothing, comes to wrong conclusions -- effectively taking the piss out of those who would find profound philosophical mysteries in the esoteria of popular culture. This framing device will unquestionably divide opinion; from one point of view it gives the whole independent-film experience a self-depreciating humour that deflates arthouse pretensions and brands LovecraCked! as an exercise in silly-bugger entertainment. It also allows a degree of creativity at a low budget. From another perspective, however, the low-budget, rather self-indulgent humour is somewhat at odds with many of the short films it is attempting to integrate into a unit and can become annoying simply due to excessive insistence and excessive length. Take your pick; critics have been vocal both ways. In many respects, pushing the limits of viewer tolerance is probably the point and if nothing else, it's hard to watch LovecraCked! in an indifferent manner. And you'd have to try hard not to be entertained at some point in the proceedings.

In the end, though, it's probably useless trying to judge a film such as this by mainstream cinematic criteria. It's cheap and crude and only sometimes successful -- depending what you mean by success. There's good acting, bad acting, strong direction, loose, haphazard direction, controlled statements, pointless cries from the dark; attempts at both artful grossness and gross artfulness; the film does not attempt to differentiate. It just wants to be entertaining. But it does offer a wider forum to short filmmakers than the odd appearance at regional film festivals, as well as a venue for commercially dubious material, and I suspect that the DVD will find its cult audience as a result. Apart from anything else, the excellent package offers, as an extra, director Elias' award-winning short "The Voice Within" -- a powerful, masochistic vision of schizophrenia at its best, written, directed and acted by the surname-deficient Elias. In some ways, such schizophrenia lies at the heart of LovecraCked! itself.

For the sake of reference, the short films contained in the anthology are:

  • The Statement of Randolph Carter (dir. Jane Rose)
  • History of the Lurkers (dir. Justin Powers)
  • Remain (dir. Ashley Thorpe)
  • Bugboy (dir. Tomas Almgren)
  • Witches Spring (dir. Brian Barnes)
  • Alecto (dir. Simon Ruben)
  • Chaos of the Flesh (dir. Grady Granros)
  • Re-Penetrator (dir. Doug Sakmann)
  • And This Was a Good Day (dir. Brian A. Bernhard)

These short films come from around the world and in several cases are not suitable for children -- or the terminally serious.

Interview with the director, Elias


Year: 2006


Language: English

Running Time: 87 mins

Colour: Black-and-white, and colour

Sound: Yes

Aspect Ratio: Mostly 16:9 (though it varies)

Director: Elias and others

Writer: Elias and others


Chad Bernhard
Dan Payne
Matt Renicks
Tom Wontner
Joanna Angel
Lloyd Kaufman

and many others



Official website

Interview with the director of LovecraCked, Elias

copyright©Robert Hood 2007

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