With the cancellation of Guillermo Del Toro’s much-anticipated big-budget film adaptation of Lovecraft’s epic At the Mountains of Madness, the Lovecraft-inspired cinema invasion may have suffered a setback, but there are those who haven’t yet surrendered.
Spanish filmmaker José Luis Alemán is engaged in a multi-part Lovecraft-inspired film series that was begun in 2010 with the release of La herencia Valdemar, aka The Valdemar Legacy. Made for an estimated €13,000,000 [approx. US$19 million by today's conversion rate], the film was unique in its country of origin in being the first movie in Spanish cinema history made without Spanish government subsidies. I’m not sure what the real significance of this is, but it certainly sounds significant. It was also the last film of Jacinto Molina Álvarez — better known as Paul Naschy — legendary Spanish horror film actor whose career spanned five decades, years in which he either played or came up against just about every horror icon you can name, from Frankenstein, Dracula and the Devil to werewolves, vampires and worshipers of Satan (including zombie cows and cybernetic killer rottweilers).
La herencia Valdemar [aka The Valdemar Legacy] (Spain-2010; dir. José Luis Alemán)
Luisa Llorente, an expert on taxation assessment of old properties, had recently gone to the Victorian mansion Valdemar to conduct an inventory of property ownership. After she mysteriously disappeared, Maximilian, president of her company, engaged the services of a private detective to help find her. But soon they will discover that hers is not the first disappearance at Valdemar mansion. (IMDb)
How is all this relevant to Lovercraft, you may ask? Well, it seems that amongst the items set for inventory is a certain volume known to all dabblers in Lovecraftian lore — an ancient grimoire written by the Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, a book known as the Necronomicon.
As everything is in Spanish, it’s hard to elucidate the details, but it’s clear that being “inspired by the Universe of H.P. Lovecraft” and featuring an old ancestral house, mysterious disappearances, the dead rising and the Necronomicon, sooner or later the Great Old Ones will be putting in an appearance. Meanwhile, the character list alone is suggestive. It includes such real-world luminaries as Lissie Borden (New England’s most notorious alleged female hatchet killer), Aleister Crowley (the infamous occultist and ceremonial magician) and Bram Stoker (author of the novel Dracula).
One thing leads to another and the result is Part 2 or La herencia Valdemar II: La sombra prohibida [aka The Valdemar Legacy II: The Forbidden Shadow], in which an Old Friend arises.
Part 2 is a direct continuation of The Valdemar Legacy, with Lovecraftian tendencies reaching climactic proportions, as obsession with the Book takes over, causing Cthulhu to rise and finally put his foot down.
Apparently the release of the film involved a museum-like display of the film’s props and unique sets. Here are the principals on display (with director-José-Luis-Alemán on the far right):
See the Gallery below for images and alternative poster art. And though it’s in Spanish, it’s worth clicking your way through the official website (and persevering with slowish download times, depending on available bandwidth) for the great imagery.
- Sources: Official website; Facebook page; YouTube channel; Dread Central. Research: Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood.
- For more on Lovecraft in cinema, see the Backbrain article Tentacles, Ancient Whispers and Monstrous Gods.