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In 1948 Los Angeles, everyone uses magic- everyone except hard-boiled private detective H. Phillip Lovecraft, who refuses for "personal reasons." Lovecraft is hired by a mysterious rich man to recover a stolen book, the Necronomicon. Investigating, he finds that the book holds the key to taking over the world by magical means, releasing the "Old Ones". (Contains several in-jokes to H.P. Lovecraft's horror fiction and also the hard-boiled detective genre.) Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
Fantastic mesh of hard-boiled noir, and Lovecraftian mythos.
I first saw this when it premiered on HBO in '91. With a Who's Who cast of character-actors, this first-rate production by Gale Anne Hurd (of James Cameron/Terminator fame) and directed by Martin Campbell (soon to direct Goldeneye and Mask of Zorro)is a brilliant mesh tribute to the works of HP Lovecraft. With a firm tongue-in-cheek, the viewer is taken along on the latest case of H. Phil Lovecraft, private detective in a 1948 Los Angeles where "everybody does magic". A relatively new happening, magic is real...everyone uses it, except Lovecraft. Fred Ward turns in one of his best performances to date as the hard-boiled detective, wise-cracking his way through every situation. Julianne Moore is spot-on as Phil's ex-girl, the sultry songbird in his former partner(Clancy Brown)'s club. David Warner is perfect as Lovecraft's effete client, Amos Hackshaw. It's a sharply-written noir tale with more than a few Cthulhu references, and adds some more generalized fantasy for spice. Pay attention to the details, this is where the picture really shines- from the everyday applications of magic, to the snappy banter between Lovecraft and pretty-much everyone, it's an enjoyable escape from reality-TV. The creatures are passable, not the best by today's CGI standards, but certainly not the worst seen in some straight-to-video bombs. The writing is stylish and inventive, with some really ingenious scenes/situations. Martin Cambell's direction takes you right along with Lovecraft, with some brilliant cinematography. The casting is terrific as well. I was never bored. One of my top-20 favorite films. I can't wait for a DVD version, if it ever appears. A terribly disappointing, not-so-great sequel called "Witch Hunt" was done in '94 with a completely different cast & director.
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