A HBO TV movie that combines film noir, late 40’s Hollywood, H.P. Lovecraft’s Ancient Ones, magic and monsters, as well as turns by Fred Ward and Julianne Moore? Why isn’t this movie not discussed all the time?
Let’s change that.
Unlike the rest of 1948 Los Angeles, private detective H. Philip Lovecraft (Ward) doesn’t use magic. He relies on his fists, his smarts and his gun. He’s been hired by Amos Hackshaw (David Warner, as always absolutely perfect) to find chauffeur Larry Willis, who has stolen a book called the Necronomicon.
You know that it can’t be that simple, right?
There’s also the virginal Olivia Hackshaw (Alexandra Powers, who played Tonya Harding in a TV movie but is now part of Scientology’s Sea Org), who is the key to a much greater scheme, plus Lovecraft’s old flame Connie Stone (Moore) has an angle, too. Look for appearances by Clancy Brown (the Kurgan from Highlander), Charles Hallahan, Arnetia Walker as a witch who aids our hero and Curt Sobel, who in addition to playing the band leader, won an Emmy for his song from this movie, “Who Do I Lie?”
Director Martin Campbell would go on to make GoldenEye and Casino Royale. This looks way bigger and better than a TV movie and would have made a great series for HBO, back in the days before they actually did that as often as they do today. The special FX are also perfect, making this feel like a lost 90’s direct to video movie.
HBO did make a spiritual sequel, Witch Hunt, which had Dennis Hopper take over for Ward and the story move to 1953 and magic take the place of Communism.
By the way, the Owl Wagon Cook is George Wilbur, who played the Shape in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.