Plot: Lori (Pamela Franklin) has been on edge since she lost her child, an event that fractured her mind. She and her husband Frank (Michael Ontkean) soon head to the town of Lilith, where Frank has been offered a job with a high salary. He will work at a company that produces occult items, referred to by the locals as toys. On the way to Lilith, a car almost runs them off the road and in the wreckage, Lori finds a creepy doll with fingernail clippings in the pocket. But they continue on and soon enough, arrive in Lilith. Frank’s boss is Mr. Cato (Orson Welles), a charismatic man who seems to have a hold over the entire town. Mr. Cato also lost a child but he refuses to accept the death, only that his son is resting. Lori is suspicious from the start, but Frank shrugs her off, blaming her mood swings for her concerns. But when it becomes clear that Mr. Cato has dark intentions for the new residents, will it be too late for Lori?
Entertainment Value: I want to say up front, I watched the 82 minute, R rated version titled Necromancy for this review. There are several other versions of this film, with various cuts and additions, so I wanted to be clear on which one I was talking about in this review. I think most will be drawn to Necromancy either because of how rare it has been to see or of course, the presence of Orson Welles. Welles is fine as the sinister Mr. Cato and while he doesn’t seem inspired, his performance is interesting and definitely adds to the cinematic curio that is Necromancy. The rest of the cast does well, with Pamela Franklin standing out in particular as memorable. The narrative unfolds at a slow pace, but never really comes off as dull thanks to the eerie atmosphere. There are some inconsistent moments of course, but the story is mostly solid and doesn’t disappoint until the tired, cliched conclusion. I wouldn’t rank it with the elite level 70s horror movies, but Necromancy warrants a look.
A couple ladies show off the jugs here, but not for long. Just some quick glances at the girls, that’s all. There’s not much blood or really violence in general, aside from a few isolated scenes. A woman stabs a guy at a ritual in a scene that is the bloodiest, but its non graphic. The main reason Necromancy works as well as it does is the atmosphere, which seems like a dreary haze of tension. The occult elements play in well and we get to see a host of spooky items and practices, which is cool. Anytime you can have Orson Welles as a practitioner of the dark arts, its a good time. Not much memorable dialogue to speak of, as the movie at least attempts to be serious and mostly succeeds. Necromancy isn’t crazy from a gonzo, over the top perspective, but it does have oppressive atmosphere and some pretty wacky shit involved. I’m scoring it a little higher than I originally thought, just because the film’s tone is so offbeat.
Overall Insanity: 6/10
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