Friday, July 25, 2008

H.P. Lovecraft's The Tomb

Here’s a plot for you, see if you can guess the title: A mysterious “puzzlemaster” kidnaps people guilty of not living their lives to the fullest, then imprisons them in diabolical traps. If they prove themselves worthy of a second chance, they defeat the trap and live. If not, they die. The puzzlemaster communicates with them through videotape and closed-circuit TV, masking his identity by using a garishly painted puppet to speak through. What? You answered Saw? How could you not know this is the plot for the classic H. P. Lovecraft story “The Tomb”?

Probably because you’ve read the short story, which is basically Lovecraft’s riff on the same subject matter as Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Premature Burial”. It is only in the egregious offense to decency called H. P. Lovecraft’s The Tomb that the above synopsis fits. It is a terrible movie with a plot stolen from the Saw movies, although all it accomplishes is making you appreciate Saw a whole lot more. Here, all you really want is for the victims to die.

This is a pet peeve of mine, which I’ve written about on another site. A producer gets the rights to use a story, and then throws away everything except the title and the author’s name. Masters of Horror did this recently with Ambrose Bierce’s The Damned Thing (it’s a great story, truly a classic, but is Ambrose Bierce truly popular enough today to draw a crowd?), and innumerable companies have done it to Lovecraft. This is a bizarre marketing strategy, since it seems you’re trying to lure Lovecraft fans to your movie, but the very people you’re directing the campaign toward will be pissed at being tricked. I don’t get it.

There is a feeble attempt to tie the story to Lovecraft, as the puzzlemaster used different alter egos with names from Lovecraft’s stories when he interacted with his victims before their ordeal (Hi. I’m Eric Zann. Want to hear some music?). Fortunately, one of the trapped nitwits formerly dated a girl who kept a copy of a Lovecraft book by the bed, so he’s able to figure this out, although the realization doesn’t gain them anything, since it isn’t tied to anything else.

Oh, and the victims are imprisoned in a warehouse filled with tools to complete their tasks, while in the background you can see light through the windows which lead to the outside world. I kept yelling at the screen, “Use a hammer and break the window! You’re on the ground floor.” before switching to “Die, die, die!” toward the end.

Please, for the love of Cthulhu, avoid this horror of a film.

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