The Dunwich Horror 2001 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
Director Daniel Haller began his career as an art director for Roger Corman. He worked on all the early Edgar Allan Poe pictures and after the success of THE HAUNTED PALACE (1963), was given his chance to direct on another adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story. H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was a writer who came into his own in the 1960s with the republication of many of his horror stories which were turned into a series of films by American International Pictures and a number of episodes of Rod Serling’s NIGHT GALLERY. The story chosen, THE COLOR OUT OF SPACE one of Lovecraft’s best, became DIE, MONSTER DIE in 1965. Despite the blatant drive-in title, the film turned out to be surprisingly good and it contains one of Boris Karloff’s best late career performances. It was shot in England and had the services of the ill-fated Nick Adams (his early death resembled Heath Ledger’s) along with a solid British cast. The photography is impressive, the settings cheap but interesting, and the performances triumph over the OK script. The first half is wonderfully atmospheric and reminded me of the HARRY POTTER pictures. The second half, which is more plot heavy with the typical B movie rushed conclusion (taken from Karloff’s 1936 THE INVISIBLE RAY), is less satisfactory but it can’t take away from the overall aura that the film generates. Underrated and very much worth your time.
The same cannot be said of THE DUNWICH HORROR which followed 4 years later. This film was shot in America and is full of late 1960s hip trendiness which give the movie an incredibly dated feel. Actually I remember seeing this film in high school when it came to town in 1970. My date and I were not impressed as we weren’t really into the counterculture at that time. It did contain a few good scares but those were mostly accidental. I remember afterwards how disappointed we were at how atmosphere had been sacrificed for drugged out visuals. The essential elements of the story are in place with a modern day warlock attempting to resurrect an ancient race of beings by mating them with women. Dean Stockwell as the warlock, gives a subdued, intense performance despite the rather poor script and he receives able support from Sam Jaffe and Ed Begley. Sandra Dee however remains Sandra Dee despite this attempt to jazz up her image and she doesn’t help matters. One interesting bit of trivia is that DUNWICH HORROR features an early appearance by Talia Coppola (later Shire) 6 years before ROCKY. It’s hard to believe that these two movies were made by the same director but it goes to show the difference between a British technical crew and an American one and how attitudes in the movie business had changed in just 4 years. This DVD is worth it for the first film with the second an interesting time capsule.