V: The Valdemar Legacy II: The Forbidden Shadow (2010)

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Yes, it took me fully four years to figure out how to game this system. This is, of course, the sequel to La Herencia Valdemar, which we visited at the other end of the alphabet; this is simply the English title. Frankly, I prefer the Spanish version: La Sombra Prohibida, but this is the easiest V I’ve ever scored.

Some spoilers follow. You’ve been warned.

There were a ton of storylines left over when chapter one closed. Chapter two finds us firmly in the present day, except for a flashback to the 1890s which finds the tortured Lázaro Valdemar (Daniele Liotti), after the sacrifice of his wife, falling deeper and deeper into books of forbidden lore, much to the dismay of the faithful Jervás (Paul Nachy in his final role). In fact, Jervás begs none other than H.P. Lovecraft (Luis Zahera) to try to convince Lázaro to give up his ultimate acquisition: the Necronomicon. “You don’t own the Necronomicon,” he tells Lázaro, “the Necronomicon owns you.” To no avail.

In the present day, Nicolás (Óscar Jaenada) and Dr. Cervia (Ana Resueño) continue their search for the missing antiques expert, Luisa (Silvia Abascal), who has escaped from the slow-witted Santiago (Santi Prego) and the sociopathic Dámaso (José Luis Torrijo), which results in the capture of Eduardo (Rodolfo Sancho) and Ana (Norma Ruiz), also searching for Luisa, a bit ahead of schedule, we will find.

All four wind up in a room in the deserted Valdemar mansion, wallpapered with polaroids of bloody people screaming and begging. Santiago releases them and leads them through a cavern underneath the mansion, where they are unfortunate enough to encounter the thing that was released in the first movie. Fleeing it, they run right into the arms of the cultists being led by Colvin (Eusubio Poncela), the head of the real estate agency employing all four – and a surprisingly young Lázaro. It is an elaborate scheme to gather enough sacrificial souls for a rite which will undo the botched Dunwich Ritual from the first movie. However, Colvin makes a mistake equally as catastrophic as Crowley’s in that instance, with the results that the cult is suddenly confronted by a very pissed-off Cthulhu.

That synopsis doesn’t convey half the texture and turns the story presents. Santiago has a horrifying yet heart-wrenching monologue about the nastiness at the Valdemar mansion to Luisa while having one of his seizures (and the handful of horse tranquilizers he downs to kill the pain). Luisa runs into an honest-to-God gypsy fortune-teller in a wagon in the woods. Like the earlier appearance of Bram Stoker, this version of H.P. Lovecraft has a lot more going on than the guy we think we knew. What I’m saying is, the two movies considered together form a pretty good Lovecraft pastiche, while still managing to be extremely Spanish in character. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for Lovecraft on a budget, and the budget on this one is actually pretty decent, something in the range of 6.5 million Euros. The acting, music, effects and cinematography are all of a very high order. It’s a little too ambitious to completely fulfill all its promises, and bends back on itself a little too often – even then, it’s still admirable in many ways.

I would recommend this to all Lovecraft fans. But.

This sequel/second chapter is hard to find. Amazon lists a PAL DVD for $120 – you can find it on eBay for less – but the most astounding thing is Amazon Video has part one but not part two. Unsuspecting viewers will find themselves hanging, like I did at the end of Sword of Doom. That’s just bad policy, there. It is, however, currently on YouTube for three bucks. Maybe Shudder has access to it – I don’t know, I’m not in a position to afford streaming services at the moment.

But somebody really should remedy that situation. All those situations.

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