Friday, November 2, 2012

The Neo-Necronomicon

The official Facebook page for the upcoming remake of "The Evil Dead" has posted some interesting pictures of the film's Necronomicon Ex Mortis.

I really like the cover treatment, which seems to be a far more realistic take on the "bound in human flesh" trope. The face adornment on the original trilogy props always looked cheesy. For the kind of movies they are that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the remake seems to be taking a more realistic approach. The only thing that seems odd is how thin the book appears to be.

Here are two of the interior pages. The artworks seems okay, but not particularly memorable. If you right click and open up the picture in a new tab you can get a more detailed view of the prop's construction details.  From the visible corner seam in the lower left hand side it looks as though the cover is a latex skin folded over mounting boards.  Based on the staining of the pages I would guess that the text block was sewn together and then stained by dunking the whole thing in tea or diluted ink.  The deckled edges of the paper look like they're also the product of distressing the text block as a whole.  Those rough but even edges probably come from clamping the pages down and using sandpaper or a wire brush along the entire text block.


Chris said...

Don't much care for this.

The handwriting on the left-hand page is a really cheesy touch and, perhaps it's just me, but the inset illustration on the right looks uncomfortably similar to Nazi propaganda drawings of Jews.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I dunno. The original films' take on the book was memorably over-the-top, which was very in keeping with the lurid, excessive character of the original. It's just common sense: don't read books that have a face! Otherwise you may be violated by a tree. (Spoiler alert: in the original "Evil Dead," someone gets violated by a tree.)

This version seems like a more restrained attempt at greater realism, which strikes me as rather counterproductive. Personally, I never really thought about how plausible it is to bind a book with a human face; it's an evil book, and I just ran with it.

Now though, I'm looking at the new version and thinking: why did they need so many separate pieces of human skin? Are they all from the same person? Was he just really skinny, or did he not have enough contiguous skin surface suitable for binding? And why does the scrawled message look so much like ballpoint pen? Is it, in fact, supposed to be ballpoint pen? That's not all that scary.

I'm probably just being overcritical. I must confess that I'm biased toward the original Necronomicon, because I once got a chance to eat some of it.

True story. I have actually tasted the Raimi Necronomicon.

CoastConFan said...

Overall, I like the book, despite it being a bit of a “plain Jane” compared to some over the top tomes. The stitched up cover is nicely low-key, but the jigsaw look has a subdued feeling of fury. The illustration looks like print from an intaglio copper engraving, which is spot-on for this type of book and although the text is not lavish, it is sufficiently alien to make you take a closer look. The marginalia is pretty good, and I supposed the scribbling and stains in the book are part of the movie’s plot. I don’t care for the ultra rough page edges, it really doesn’t serve any purpose and there is just no reason for it. There is not the typical faux yellowing that is found on these books and that is a plus for me, because rag paper or parchment just should not yellow as much as turns up in props.

For those of you interested tome makers, copper plate printing begins about the first quarter of the 1400s (about the time of moveable type), although wood block print continues to be used commonly up through the 1820s. Copper, being soft, did not lend itself to massive print runs and had to be touched up to repair wear from use. Collectors of early copper plate printing can sometimes date the generation of the print by the amount of touchup on the plate, for example original Durer prints. Lithography shows up in the late 1700s.

I think this prop book is moving in the right direction and although understated, it doesn’t scream “campy prop book”, although I really, really like Army of Darkness, camp and all. You could doll it up a bit with a portion of an arcane tattoo on a cover fragment, but I wouldn’t go much farther. The text could be punched up a bit with a few red letters here and there or maybe a touch of gilding, but that is really up to the prop maker.

Mystic Scholar said...

I've always liked such work to be linked to an "older" time, "elder days." The writing just doesn't give me that archaic feel.

Overall, I like the book, though I agree it's a little too "realistic" to fit well with the original movies.

I'll guess I'll just have to give the new movies a look. ;)

Lynn Christopher said...

My question would be: Why is there an engraving - a mass-produced print - illustrating a handwritten book that has been hand-bound in what looks like the remnants of a very messy killing? If the print had been pasted in, as though someone had found it elsewhere and added it to the book post-binding, I think that would have made more sense.

And I'm illogically bothered by the fact that the bloody fingerprints aren't all in the right places or at the right angles, but then I'm nitpicky that way.

Derrick S. said...

Just thought I might direct you to another excellent rendering of the Necronomicon.

Jeff Clarke said...

That's what old sketches of demons look like dude