Die, Monster, Die!

Year 1965

Boris Karloff as Nahum Witley
Nick Adams   as  Stephen Reinhart  
Freda Jackson as Letitia Witley
Suzan Farmer as Susan Witley
Terence de Marney   as Merwyn
Patrick Magee as Dr. Henderson
Director - Daniel Haller
Screenwriter - Jerry Sohl
Short Story Author - H.P. Lovecraft

Although Die, Monster, Die! isn't true to H.P. Lovecraft's story "The Colour Out of Space", it isn't the worst adaptation of a Lovecraft story. In fact, for good cheesy fun, it could be worth watching. You need to be a fan of low budget, mid-60s, horror films to really enjoy it, though.

People familiar with Lovecraft think that he wrote only horror stories. After all, his horror stories were original when they were first published as well as beautifully constructed, paced, and worded according to the Lovecraft formula. But few people associate him with other genres like fantasy and, believe it or not, science fiction. This story is pure science fiction. A meteor crashes and emits an energy that causes rapid and luxuriant plant growth. But the effect is short-lived and the plants die as a result of the exposure. The owner of the property on which the meteor lands also suffers from the meteor's effects.

The movie starts with this premise but then adds schtuff. There's the love interest addition - Stephen Reinhart (Adams) loves or is at least interested in Susan Witley (Farmer). There's Mrs. Witley (Jackson) who is a recluse and the suffering wife of Nahum Witley (Karloff). And then there's the whole witchcraft angle that I don't remember from the Lovecraft story.

In the short story, the stone is a meteorite without any supernatural connection other than the effects of its radiation. In the movie, it's a present from some Witley ancestor or sibling who was into the occult. Lovecraft was never into the occult. Satanism was never part of the Lovecraft lore. Elder Gods? Yep. Ancient Ones? Yep, again. Christian devils? Nope. Pentagrams? No way.

Then there's the final scene where Karloff turns into some silver surfer looking guy with big ears. He turns shiny, goes insane (maybe not in that order), and starts chasing people to kill them. Then, of course for an American International Picture, the house has to be destroyed. Here, it catches fire.

This movie has the paw-prints of Roger Corman all over it. From the sets to the mad monster finale to the burning down of the house, it's pure Corman. In fact, I had to check to make sure that Daniel Haller wasn't a pseudonym for Roger Corman. It isn't; director Daniel Haller is a real person.

This is a good thing. The scenes didn't end abruptly, there was no sudden mood shift between scenes, and the movie didn't appear to be constructed out of random clippings found on the floor. So there's that.

The movie has it's unintentional funny scenes. Like Karloff scathingly saying, "Science!" Or Susan explaining her family history, specifically her uncle, to Reinhart. Reinhart asks, "What did he do?" to which Susan replies, "He went insane." I had to ask myself, "And did it pay well?" There are also Nick Adams' lapses into his true New Jersey accent. Lest we forget, there's also Karloff calling his wife's name, Letitia, with that unique Karloff lisp. They're all enjoyable moments.

My favorite character was the butler Merwyn (de Marney). He wears emerald eyeglasses at least as thick as the bottoms of Coke bottles. It's a wonder he can see anything. In his big scene, he collapses onto a dinner table and takes the table cloth and place settings with him as he sags to the floor. Karloff explains that he "does this all the time" so it's nothing to worry about.

There's another scene at the beginning of the movie where Reinhart arrives in Arkham. You know that it's Arkham because there are about five signs that say so. No one will take Reinhart to the Witley place. A taxi driver refuses him. Why there is even a taxi driver in a town as small as Arkham is unexplained. Women refuse to talk to him after he mentions Witley. Even the renter of bicycles (another profession that seems like it'd be tough to make a living at in Arkham) won't let Reinhart rent or even purchase once he hears the word Witley. It's such a cliché, but it's part of the fun of the movie.

The acting is passable, the story is barely convincing, the plot is littered with holes, and the special effects are cheap. Still, this movie has its place for fun.

There's no profanity, blasphemy, or nudity. But there is Karloff who's always fun. There's a cameo, if you want to call it that, by Patrick Magee who was the husband of the brutalized wife in A Clockwork Orange, and there're enough silly scenes to make you smile. Chick flick potential is small, but it won't offend her. It won't scare her either so the "PURE TERROR" in the tagline is "pure hyperbole".

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