Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Die, Monster, Die!

Die, Monster, Die! 1965
Director: Daniel Haller
Writer: Jerry Sohl
Starring Boris Karloff, Nick Adams, Freda Jackson, Suzan Farmer, Patrick Magee, Paul Farrell and Terence de Marney

I was digging around at Big Lots and saw this old Roger Corman film and I nabbed it up for 3 bucks and I am glad I did. IT is a moody and atmospheric gothic horror film, and I believe the first film adaptation of a H.P. Lovecraft story. This story, "The Colour Out of Space" was adapted once again in the late 80's into the film "The Curse" and this version is far superior to that one. It relies heavily on gothic mood and a fine acting portrayal by Boris Karloff. If anything's bogs this film down it is the cheesy special effects, specifically when Karloff is transformed by the meteor that has seemed to affect everyone in the village. That is a minor quibble though, this film relies heavily on the same plot structure as Corman's earlier classic "The Fall of the House of Usher". It follows the same beats, as in a young man coming into a house to meet up with his love and is soon beset by strange happenstance's that befall him and finally a deep dark secret that the patriarch of the family is trying to keep hidden. IT is a solid structure, but the film pales in comparison to that Vincent Price classic. Nonetheless it is a solid example of a great gothic horror film and well worth pursuing.
The plot basics are this, a young man (Adams) goes to the countryside to meet up with his fiance (Farmer) at her family home. He meets her wheelchair bound father (Karloff), who is a scientist and he is very unwelcome to him and urges him to leave immediately. He disregards these warnings and soon discovers the deep dark secret that he has been hiding. It seems that he discovered a asteroid that is giving out strange radiation that at first makes people sick and then transforms them into monstrosities. Soon, it destroys his wife and he decides to destroy the asteroid but it has disastrous results and now it is up to the young man to put an end to the horror this family has endured.
This is a solidly well done gothic horror film. Haller's direction has the right touch of eerie mood and atmosphere to carry the film through till it's ending. He has a great sense of perfect locale and never shows too much of the monsters, but just enough making your mind create the visions more than what you see upon the screen. The script by Sohl is good too, it follows the trappings of the gothic horror film to the letter, and though you never witness anything new and exciting, the trip is very enjoyable. None of the characters really move past the horror film stereotype and though I would have liked more characterization it was not needed for the story. The film is more about the plot than the characters. The cast is good. Adams as the stalwart heroic lead is quite serviceable as is Farmer as the swooning damsel in distress. This film really belongs to Karloff though, he commands your presence with every scene he is in and definitely makes the film well worth watching. Also, Magee in a small part as the town doctor, is very good and I always enjoy seeing him in genre films. The SFX and the effects are rather cheesy and pedestrian, but that is to be expected from such a B movie. It kind of adds to the charm of the proceedings. If you enjoy gothic horror, Karloff and Lovecraft definitely check this one out.
This one gets 3 out of 5

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