How the Necronomicon Works

Pop-Up Necronomicon

"The Evil Dead" special edition DVD comes in a case modeled after the film version of The Book of the Dead, aka the "Necronomicon."
"The Evil Dead" special edition DVD comes in a case modeled after the film version of The Book of the Dead, aka the "Necronomicon."
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The "Necronomicon" appears in dozens of movies, comic books, short stories, novels and even cartoons. In most of these appearances, the book is a dangerous tome of spells and rituals filled with forbidden, evil power. In other cases, the presence of the book is no more than a sly, casual nod to the audience. Either way, the book can be found well outside the Cthulhu mythos.

Perhaps the most infamous appearance of the "Necronomicon" in cult film circles is "The Evil Dead" series. Sam Raimi's films follow the misadventures of Ash, played by Bruce Campbell, as he encounters supernatural ghouls and ghosts determined to cut his life short. The source of all the trouble is an ancient book bound in human skin and written in blood. The book is, of course, the "Necronomicon," though apart from the name it bears no resemblance to the grimoire in Lovecraft's stories -- though it contains rituals and spells like any good grimoire should, none of them deal with Lovecraft's creatures.

There's even a movie called "Necronomicon," though this film is really a series of three short movies based off of Lovecraft's stories. Other films like "Cast a Deadly Spell" and "Forever Evil" reference the "Necronomicon" and borrow from the Cthulhu mythos, but are not direct adaptations of Lovecraft's stories.

On television, the "Necronomicon" shows up quite a bit, mostly in cartoons. Here's a short list of some of the animated shows that reference it:

  • "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"
  • "Metalocalypse"
  • "The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy"
  • "The Real Ghostbusters"
  • "The Simpsons"

It seems that whenever a director or author needs a creepy book in his story, the "Necronomicon" is the go-to grimoire. Lovecraft would undoubtedly be pleased with the way his creation has thrived, though perhaps he might be a touch perplexed that it shows up in stories that have no connection with his own mythology. The next time you're watching a movie or television show with a mystical or supernatural theme, keep your eyes open -- sooner or later the "Necronomicon" is bound to show up.

To learn more about the "Necronomicon" and the Cthulhu Mythos, check out the links below.

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More Great Links


  • Cthulhu Files.
  • Lovecraft, H.P. "History of the Necronomicon." Letter to Clark Ashton Smith, Nov. 27, 1927.
  • Lovecraft, H.P. "The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories." Penguin Books. 1999.
  • Papers from an Attic Window.
  • The H.P. Lovecraft Archive.
  • The "Necronomicon" Anti-FAQ.