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A young man visits his fiancé's estate to discover that her wheelchair-bound scientist father has discovered a meteorite that emits mutating radiation rays that have turned the plants in his greenhouse to giants. When his own wife falls victim to this mysterious power, the old man takes it upon himself to destroy the glowing object with disastrous results. Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
American scientist Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) travels to England for a visit with his fiancée (Suzan Farmer). Arriving in the small village of Arkham he is met with jeers from the local villagers who refuse to direct him to her home at the Witley Estate. Unable even to rent a bicycle from a superstitious shop keeper, Reinhart has no choice but to tackle the long journey on foot. Once at the Witley mansion, he takes note of dead trees which turn to ashes at the slightest touch, and the dreary wasteland which surrounds the area. When nobody answers the door, Stephen takes the liberty of entering on his own and runs into the wheelchair-bound Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff). The old man orders his unwanted visitor to leave, but Reinhart explains that he is there at the request of Mrs. Witley (Freda Jackson).
When Reinhart greets Mrs. Witley he is concerned to find her hidden in bed behind a gauze veil, avoiding the light. She has contracted some type of strange illness, yet her husband refuses to take her to the town doctor. The Witleys' butler subsequently collapses and dies from sickness himself, and Reinhart witnesses the aged Mr. Witley burying him on the grounds in secret. Gaining entry into a locked greenhouse, our hero is alarmed to find giant mutated vegetables and even abnormal creatures thriving on small chunks of what appears to have come from some larger glowing rock. Stephen ultimately confronts Mr. Witley and learns that a green meteorite crashed to these grounds many years before, and that the old man has been nurturing it in the basement, believing that it was actually enhancing their lives when in reality, its radiation has been grossly mutating all living things in the vicinity.
Adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft tale "The Colour Out of Space," this movie (also known as MONSTER OF TERROR and THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD) winds up missing the mark on many levels. Directed by Roger Corman's former production designer, the film's Gothic look is very attractive and some sequences are imaginatively shot; unfortunately much of the time we feel ourselves waiting for more things to happen with a tedious script that seems to be lacking something. It's got potential, yet there seems to be far too much loitering about, with many scenes of snooping around and investigating strange occurrences. Still, it's always fun to watch the arrogant-sounding Nick Adams and its a treat to see Boris Karloff still acting in his later years. **1/2 out of ****
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