Die, Monster, Die! (1965 USA)

The original script for this adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out Of Space was so bad, written by Jerry Sohl, that the crew behind the camera could not stop giggling. At one point, actress Freida Jackson, wailed: “I can’t speak these lines. They’re unspeakable!” So director Daniel Haller had to rework the narrative mess. Despite his surgery, unintentional laughter remains. During an absurdly tense meal time scene, a servant collapses to the floor–taking the tablecloth and cutlery with him. Inspector Clouseau couldn’t have done it better.

The participation of Boris Karloff, however, makes up for a lot. In 1963 he contracted pneumonia while working in Italy during the Black Sabbath shoot. This was his next starring role and he is now confined to a wheel chair, although his voice and eyes are still as sepulchral as ever. Superficially, Die Monster Die! has much to recommend it: psychedelic colours swirl seductively behind the credits, and our hero’s journey across a powdered landscape to the dreaded Witley estate, is effectively eerie. Other visual delights include sweltering hothouses with exotic blooms and outsized tomatoes, a subterranean hideaway decorated with looming, skull–like faces pulsing with the emerald glare of a fragmented meterorite. Plus there’s the striking matte shots of the Witley mansion, curiously angled among scudding mists. Nice.

The plot is about an American, Steve (Nick Adams) who arrives in the remote English village of Arkham. He’s visiting his university ‘sweetheart’ Susan Witley. She’s played by the rather bland Suzan Farmer, completely normal yet this puts her at odds with the ancient morbid characters she’s grown up with. Never mind. The Witley household turns out to be highly inhospitable to the young man with the pungent New Joisey accent. Elderly patriarch Nahum Witley (Boris K of course) is violently opposed to the young man staying in his home. Add in the ailing manservant–Merwyn, he who collects laid tables as he faints–and you don’t have a situation conducive to a young buck getting it on with his intended squeeze. Some highlights include a guided tour of the family portraits–Steve: “Whadda he do?” Susan: “He went insane,” and some writhing mutations in the hothouse annex. These are genuinely weird.

Cheap thrills are aplenty during the 79 minutes of Die Monster Die. The time period is never clear as Adams is dressed in the kind of trench coat made popular by Alan Ladd during the late 1940s, while Nahum’s own father is reportedly born two years after the actor who plays his son! Karloff gets around amazingly fast in that wheelchair before he receives an overdose of radiation. Then he stumbles through the house glowing a phosphorescent silver in scenes that have to be seen to be believed. As Susan and Steve flee from the blazing mansion, Susan utters a line that destroys what dwindling credibility the story had: “Why did all this have to happen?” This is almost as lame as the clanger Steve dropped earlier on when he enters a very large room. “This is a very large room,” he uselessly observes. There are compensations to enjoy though amidst all the obvious B grade schlock fest– like the always wonderful Patrick Magee in a throwaway role as an alcoholic doctor. So, if you have a spare eighty minutes…

Advertisements

Comments

  1. This sounds insane in all the best ways, I’ll definitely have to check it out ha ha! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Marina Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: