Friday, July 26, 2013

Loathe-craft?: Dagon

For once, the ghost of H.P. Lovecraft is happy.  Lovecraft has always held a devout following among some people ever since he started writing creepy works.  Full disclosure: my Dad is one of them.  Ever since his death, it seems like people have been trying to make a buck by adapting his works to film.  Seriously, IMDB lists 122 Films with Lovecraft listed as anything from 'Inspiration' to 'Based on the Works Of!'  Some of the movies have been good- The Last Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu- and some of them have been very, very bad- Cthulhu (2007).  The best person to keep Lovecraft's legacy intact, however, has always been Stuart Gordon.  The man is most famous for Re-Animator (based partly on Lovecraft's work), but also did From Beyond, a film that's gotten a bigger audience in the last few years, and Castle Freak (which I own).  As a curious aside, Gordon is from Illinois, which is also my Dad's home state.  Anyhow, he also made this 2001 film, which apparently was long in the works.  Some reports list Gordon as trying to get the film made as long ago as 1985!  The film is a loose adaptation of a Lovecraft tale of a Village that decides to worship a Great Old One to survive.  Would you want to visit that town?  Well, if you're in this movie, you don't really have a choice.  To find out how this film works when others have failed, read on...
Our hero has weird visions/dreams about this Mermaid lady and a mysterious city.  I'm sure this won't come up later.
Our hero is joined by his girlfriend and their two friends.  When the weather turns very bad, the pair go to a nearby island for help.  As for their friends, let's just say that fish can bit really hard!
The pair look for help, but don't find that the natives are exactly trustworthy.

Oh and Lovecraft fans will recognize our hero's sweater as being for Miskatonic University.  Nice.
I think that these people have been either worshipping Dagon or living under power lines.
Thanks to a seemingly-crazy man, our hero finds out the story of the Village.  Much like a certain Village in Wicker Man, the fish (or crops) stopped showing up (or growing) and they turned a little crazy to get things back to normal.

I kind of think that this guy was just waiting for a Cult to take over.  He seems like the type.
Our hero searches the Village to try and find his friends.  The people just want to be friends.

Friends eat each other's faces, right?
Something tells me that whatever this Cult has in mind, it's not going to end well.  Considering a guy got his face cut off in the last scene, let's just call it a hunch.
 I don't know what that weird CG thing is, but I don't think it is here to bake a cake.  You aren't, are you, Dagon?
To be honest with you, I don't want to SPOIL any of the film's Third Act Twists.  They're telegraphed a bit, but still well-done.  If you want to know what happens, watch the film.  The End.
It's nice to see one of these rare times that I don't have much to complain about.  Dagon is not a perfect film, but it does alot right.  It's biggest strength is its atmosphere.  It's not long before our hero is left alone in the Village.  He has no friends.  He has a huge group of people that want him dead.  What the film does well is to make you feel like he does.  When he's hiding and barricading himself in, you really feel like you are too.  Lovecraft tales are known for creating a sense of dread and desperation.  In that regard, the film works.  I also have to give props to pretty much all of the Actors.  Some of them- like our lead and the one Human left- stand out more, while others- like the best friends- do well in more simplistic roles.  The film's biggest weak point is the CGI used in the finale.  That said, it's on-screen for less than a minute and still doesn't look terrible.  What I will say as a nice counter-point is that the film is called Dagon and Dagon actually appears.  After 2007's Cthulhu, I'll take whatever I can get!  Hell, the Flash-rendered version from The Last Lovecraft is still better than nothing!  Like a lot of Gordon's films, the movie doesn't get nearly enough acclaim or credit.  Well, I'll give it that, at least.  The worst thing I can find is that amusingly-mistimed Screen Cap I took...
Up next, a two-part look at some B&W British Horror Gems.  This is one Village that won't disappoint you!  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. I agree with almost everything you said in the review. Dagon is a really cool and very well entertaining Lovecraft adaptation. The face-skinning scene is badass and the girls are hot. You just have to love this flick :)