Countdown to Halloween: Die, Monster, Die (1965)
WHY I'VE NEVER SEEN IT
I'm not sure why I've never seen Die, Monster, Die!, but for some reason, over the years, I've been more focused on finding the Gold Key comic book adaptation than I have of actually seeing the movie. In the back of my mind, I must have collected negative impressions of it based on hearsay.
WHY I BOUGHT IT
One reason: Karloff.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT
Bless its heart, Die, Monster, Die! really wants to be one of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films. From the opening credits (a familiar hurricane of colors), to its cheap but lavish sets, to its literary inspiration, it just doesn't succeed at being anything other than a pale imitation. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, other than to say it's simply dull. Characters spend so much time exploring the dark crooks and crannies of the old dark house that by the time they actually find anything, it fails to shock or surprise.
I have absolutely no knowledge of H.P. Lovecraft or his works, except that I think there's some otherworldly monster with a name that has too many consonants. I think we get a glimpse of it in one of Nahum Witley's (Boris Karloff) laboratory storage tanks, but nothing more is done with it. Instead of these creature in what one of the characters calls "a zoo from hell," the story focuses on the humans affected by radiation from some green stones that fell from the sky and can also be used as plant fertilizer.
The set-up is intriguing, if not entirely original: Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) arrives by train and no one in town will provide him transport to the Witley estate. He's been invited by either Susan Witley (Suzan Farmer), Nahum's daughter, or her mother, Letitia Witley (Freda Jackson). If it's the former, it's because of blossoming love. If it's the latter, it's because Letitia wants him to take Susan away from the dangers of the house and the green stone radiation. She should know; half her face is rotting away and she hides behind her bed drapes.
I feel like the movie continues to be intriguing to a certain point… the point of boredom. The idea that the family is just now suffering from the summoning of dark forces by a dead relative, Corbin, is interesting. However, I struggle to make a connection between the summoning of dark forces and the fall of green stones from the sky. Perhaps this is why some Lovecraft enthusiasts I know are not fond of Die, Monster, Die! It begins with some great ideas, but seems to chicken out long before its conclusion.
Written by Jerry Sohl Based on "The Color Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft Directed by Daniel Haller Starring Boris Karloff, Nick Adams, Freda Jackson, Suzan Farmer, Terence de Marney, Patrick Magee Released October 27, 1965 RT 80 min. Home Video Shout! Factory (Blu-ray)
ABOUT THE COUNTDOWN
We all have them... stacks of movies we've purchased, but never watched; or, movies on the DVR, filling them to capacity. This year for the annual Countdown to Halloween, I'm going to make a dent in my "stack," watching one movie a day for the month of October that I've never seen, then writing about it.