Houses of Hell: The Dunwich Horror (2009)

An adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, this movie is all about Wilbur Whateley (Jeffery Combs, Re-Animator, The Frighteners) as he tries to find the Necronomicon, an ancient, diabolical manuscript that will help him open a doorway to a dimension inhabited by unspeakable creatures known as the Old Ones.

Otherwise known as The Darkest Evil and Witches, this first played on the SyFy Channel on December 13, 2009.

In Louisiana, a single mother delivers a baby boy — and a monster — in the cursed Whateley House. Ten years later, Dr. Henry Armitage (Sean Stockwell!) and his assistant, Professor Fay Morgan (Sarah Lieving, who shows up in plenty of this director’s films) discover that every single copy of the Necronomicon is missing page 751.

Oh yeah — the Black Brotherhood has also summoned the gatekeeper of the ancient ones, Yog-Sothoth, to open the portal to the walls beyond sleep. Meanwhile, Professor Walter Rice (Griff Furst, who was in the remake of The Magnificent Seven) tries to translate the book. And oh yeah —  Lavina’s son, Wilbur Whateley(Combs), is aging quickly and needs the missing page to save himself.

Written and directed by Leigh Scott, who created The Baron Trump Adventures and wrote several movies based on The Wizard of Oz, this film has a pretty great cast and moves quickly enough.

Nearly all of the various symbols and diagrams shown in this film come from the “Simon” version of the Necronomicon. Although Lovecraft insisted that the book was pure invention — it came to him in a dream and he allowed other authors to refer to it and use it in their stories — it’s not a real book.

That hasn’t stopped many from claiming that it was, with Lovecraft himself sometimes getting letters from fans asking about it. Several of them pranked large university libraries by adding it to card catalogs and even requesting it from large libraries like the Vatican.

The Simon book actually has little to no connection to Lovecraft. After a limited edition hardback printing, the paperback version of this book has never gone out of print, selling more than 800,000 copies. I mean, I have one. It’s right next to The Satanic Bible and Hollywood Babylon on my shelf of mystic related works. The tagline for this book states that it could be “potentially, the most dangerous Black Book known to the Western World.”

The book deviates from Lovecraft’s intent to have the Ancient Ones be forces beyond good and evil. The idea that mankind is locked in a war between opposing forces comes from the Judeo-Christian beliefs inserted into the Cthulu mythos by author August Derleth.

There’s also a section of the intro given over to Richard Grant’s theory, as espoused in his book The Magical Revival, that there was an unconscious union between Aleister Crowley and Lovecraft. In short, they drew on the same occult forces from different paths: Crowley through actual rites, Lovecraft through the dreams that inspired his stories. Grant goes on to claim that the Necronomicon exists as an astral book as part of the Akashic records and can be accessed through both ritual magic or in dreams.

There’s also a 1978 Necronomicon, edited by George Hay with an introduction by Colin Wilson, that was supposedly created from a computer analysis of a discovered “cipher text” by Dr. John Dee, the man who coined the term British Empire. He was an intensely religious Christian that studied sorcery, astrology and Hermetic philosophy, all with the goal of communicating with Enochian angels, so that he could learn the universal language of creation and achieve what he referred to as the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind.

Anyways, back to the Simon version. Two members of the Magickal Childe scene — a New York City book store that was the major focal point for American magic/magick from the 70’s until the 90’s — Khem Caigan (the Necronomicon‘s illustrator) and Alan Cabal claimed that the book is a known hoax. My theory has always been that Peter Levenda, an occult author who wrote the book Unholy Alliance, is Simon, as the copyright notice for this book is in his name. Ironically, the name of Levenda’s latest book? Dunwich.

This is one of four movies on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Houses of Hell set. It’s an affordable way to get some scares that you may not have seen otherwise. Plus, you get a free code to save these movies digitally on Mill Creek’s MovieSPREE! site. For more information, check out their site.

You can also watch this on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: This was sent to us by Mill Creek Entertainment.

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