Saturday, January 01, 2011
The Dunwich Horror
Some great films passing this way on DVD, but I have little time or energy to do them justice. The most fun I've had this week is with The Dunwich Horror, a liberal 1970 AIP adaptation of an HP Lovecraft short story, which injects a certain amount of sex and a lot of 1960's countercultural self-awareness into a horror story set in Gothic New England (but shot in Mendocino). Far better than I expected - particularly a sly, sexually ambiguous Dean Stockwell in the role of a young occultist, who is persecuted and despised by the townspeople, but defiant, and determined to "bring the Old Ones back," however you care to interpret that phrase. The film, of course, opts for the literal - probably containing the earliest western example of something approximating tentacle porn - but the rituals employed are far more sexualized than anything I recall reading in Lovecraft, and Sandra Dee (pretty, but body-doubled for the brief nudity) is inserted in the role of "sacrifice victim" (or is it "love interest?"); she has no analog in the original short story. A bit cheesy at times, but mostly a lot of fun, surprisingly well-crafted, and almost as inventive visually as The Trip - with which it would serve as an excellent double bill. Well worth a look!