Directed by: Daniel Haller
Written by: Jerry Sohl (screenplay) and H.P. Lovecraft (story)
Starring: Boris Karloff, Nick Adams and Suzan Farmer
Reviewed by: Josh G.
ďCursed is the ground where the Dark forces live, new and strangely bodied.....he who tampers there will be destroyed...Ē
Frankenstein himself, Boris Karloff, stars as a man whose family is hated by the locals, living in his fancy mansion hidden in fog. I first found out about the movie on a date at the mall, thanks to my ex, who knew my love of horror films and made a big deal about Die, Monster, Die! being my cup of tea. Of course, having never seen the movie, I guess that he was only trying to help out, so I gave in and bought the double feature DVD (which came with 1970's The Dunwich Horror). I watched the trailers for both films, and thought Dunwich appeared more interesting. I was wrong. Die, Monster, Die! was the real gem found, and itís a shame that it took me two months to finally pop it into my DVD player. But Iím glad I did. And Iím happy that I was encouraged to purchase it, because otherwise, I would have turned the other cheek.
Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) is an American who comes to England in search of Susan Witley (Suzan Farmer) who he last saw a month ago. But the town he visits seemingly despise Susanís family, and Stephen is forced to walk to the house. There, he meets Nahum Witley (Karloff), a bitter old man who hates trespassers and orders Stephen to leave. Susan comes to the rescue and pulls Reinhart along to meet her sick mother. Letitia Witley (Freda Jackson) warns the leading man that the property is in danger, and she begs him to take her daughter far away. That night, Merwyn (Terence de Marney) the butler falls over unconscious, and a figure is creeping around the mansion. Weird sounds can be heard and all of a sudden, Merwyn just dies. Stephen knows there is a secret that Nahum is keeping from the rest of them, and heís going to find out what it is. Why does Mr. Witley bury Merwyn outside in the middle of the night, almost immediately? Is that deformed lady who attacked Stephen in the woods really Letitia? And just how in the world did all of those plants and creatures in the greenhouse grow to such enormous sizes?
Looking into the past of these actors is quite sad. Everybody gives great performances throughout, far beyond anyone would expect a movie of this nature to possess. That makes it so much harder of an impact when you learn that famous Karloff dies in Ď69, de Marney in Ď71, and young Nick Adams in Ď68 due to a drug overdose. The film is based off of the old H.P. Lovecraft story, ďThe Colour Out of Space,Ē and I think it is a worthy telling. The colours in the opening credits are attractive, and the cinematography is excellent for the partially gothic setting. They truly succeeded in creating a spooky atmosphere, but Die, Monster, Die! doesnít forget to be a fun feature. There are enough events to keep you entertained until the very end.
Halfway into the production, we mix in some sci-fi elements to liven the story. Heated stones, later revealed to be meteors found by Nahum, are used to make the plants in the greenhouse grow with radiation. Susan and Stephen look further and find more bastardly results of this sick and twisted experiment; huge-ass creatures mutated to twice the protagonistsí size. ďIt looks like a zoo in Hell.Ē What a dastardly plan! Or...not. Nahum is simply a scientist, and heís doing some research in this new untested field. Meteor rocks with power ó it seems too good to be true. Thus, we soon see the repercussions. Vines of some of the plants take their fury out on poor Susan, trying to strangle and bind her to death! Hero Reinhart hacks them away, unsurprisingly, saving the damsel in distress. Then we figure it all out. Duh! Those mutation stones are the cause of Letitiaís sickness, and they must all be destroyed! However, after working at this for so long, will Nahum agree to end this so quickly?
The music is nice, common to other films of the same tone, but nothing stands out as unique. At times, the score just stops abruptly for no reason. Poor editing, but only in this department. Ideas can easily come knocking at your door. When Merwyn faints, it is just after we see how close he is to Nahum, and how Mr. Witley refuses to let his daughter leave the premises. Could the unconscious behaviour just be a plot to keep Susan at the mansion? Well? The answer is no. Although it would have been a clever mini-twist in the story. Everyone is likable, including Nahum Witley, the semi-villain. Before going Ďfar outí with some glowing space monster subplot, we have Letitia, the horridly scarred mother cloaked in black clothing, sneaking around the place, peaking through windows and scaring Susan half to death. She tries to stab Stephen, but failing, she runs away. You now know that what used to be Mrs. Witley, is promptly morphing into an unidentifiable terror. Something dark has been smothering the house for ages, and only now it is going to completely take over.
Letitia chases Stephen and Susan through the house, bursting through various doors of the residence. Unfortunately, it dies out fast, and we have to wait for another fun romp. Finally, we get an acceptable ending with weaponry, mysterious materials and enjoyable final moments. A happy ending soon follows...sort of. As happy as it could possibly be, considering the circumstances. Witley believes the stone was a gift from heaven at first, but realises, it was actually Hellís gift of evil. Reinhart states the obvious: itís neither; itís a meteor. MGM released Die, Monster, Die! as a part of their Midnite Movies line, with a trailer, great sound quality, and a cleaned up picture with crisps and cracks in it, adding to the gothic authenticity. Best of all, itís in a 16 x 9 widescreen presentation, in 2.35:1 screen format, just like it was meant to be seen in. Stylish and gleaming, itís a journey thatíll put that smile back on your face. Buy it!
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