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While it's not technically the *first* Lovecraft film, "Dagon" still has
honor of being the first actual adaption of one of his stories, rather
existing in the 'Lovecraft-inspired' genre.
I think I speak for everyone when I say that a good straight-forward Lovecraft film has been a long time coming. Sure, "Re-Animator" was a great quirky homage, but we've also suffered through more "Unnammables" and "Lurking Fears" than one can point a shotgun at!
Adapted from "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," this film actually does justice to Lovecraft's rich universe. Die-hard fans will no doubt go nuts when they see that every bit of the 'Deep Ones' mythos has been preserved. "Dagon" also marks the first time Cthulu is ever mentioned in a film (unless you count "Cthulu Mansion." Heh heh.)
While it doesn't contain the high production values needed to properly execute every aspect of Lovecraft, the film still looks damn good considering it's microscopic budget. This is the best looking Lovecraft film we're apt to see, as Hollywood won't touch this material with a ten-foot pole.
Sure, a few of the elements look cheap and the acting delivers its share of ham (does anyone understand a word Pablo Rabal is saying?!?!), but Stuart Gordon still succeeds in making "Dagon" an entertaining (and sometimes creepy) foray into one of history's greatest horror authors.
Based on two short stories ("Dagon" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth") by
horror author H.P. Lovecraft, Dagon tells the story of Paul Marsh (Ezra
Godden), who has just made a bundle of money from stocks. While
vacationing on a small boat with his girlfriend, Barbara (Raquel
Merono), and an older couple, they run into trouble off the coast of a
seemingly deserted, small Spanish fishing town of Imboca. Paul and his
Barbara make it to shore to look for help, but things turn from bad to
worse as they discover the town's evil secrets.
This is director Stuart Gordon's third Lovecraft related film, after Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986). All were also at least co-produced by Brian Yuzna and co-written by Dennis Paoli. While I can't say Dagon is the best, it is just as good, finishing as a solid 10 out of 10 for me.
What really puts Dagon over the top early on is the incredible atmosphere that Gordon achieves from the beginning of the film. We see a prologue of sorts with Marsh diving beneath the ocean, coming across bizarre, creepy ruins, and finally running into a beautiful mermaid who just happens to have a set of shark teeth. This turns out to be a dream, but shortly after, it gets even better when our heroes spot the deserted Spanish town and the ominous weather that's quickly approaching.
By the time Paul begins exploring the spooky town, I wanted to spend an eternity there. It has all the atmosphere of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's superb Delicatessen (1991), with the addition of creepy, freakish townspeople. The more we learn about everything, the more strange it becomes, until we're finally in the middle of a nightmare that seems like a melding of Federico Fellini, David Cronenberg and Frank Henenlotter--we get visceral horror, captivating dark fantasy, and beautiful surrealism. There couldn't be a much more exquisite mix for my tastes. Don't miss this one.
Dagon was the first horror movie I've seen in a few years that both had a
good plot and kept me on the edge of my seat. After reading most of H.P.
Lovecraft's short stories on which this movie was based, I can safely say
that this is the only movie based on Lovecraft that is true to the
atmosphere and plot structure of his stories. The special effects are not
overdone and there is minimal (and yet effective) "splatter," unlike the
movie "Necronomicon," which is also based on Lovecraft. The horror and
suspense of the movie relies on xenophobia, fear of the strange and unknown,
and this plays into the movie's surprise ending where the hero must question
his own path.
I'd also like to add that this movie was filmed in a coastal village in Galicia, Spain, and the scenery is both realistic and haunting.
All in all, this movie should be a pleasure to both fans of H.P. Lovecraft and the horror genre.
Four pleasure boaters are shipwrecked near a Spanish fishing village.
At first glad to be so close to a town, the boaters soon discover that
the village is full of freaky deformed people who worship a bizarre and
evil sea-religion. Soon the villagers turn on the outsiders, and the
perverse and horrible tale of the village's decline becomes clear.
I recommend this film to those who like cheap horror. It has all of the important elements of a B horror film: weird monsters, creepy people, unclothed damsels, exciting chases, gore, and a twist ending.
In addition, this movie has a really weird plot, stolen from Lovecraft's short story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." If you like literary puns, you will enjoy the fact that our heroes become stranded in the Spanish town of Inboca. So, this movie is a lot more original than 90% of the horror out there. It isn't as scary as it is gross, weird and obscene. That is as the original author would have wanted it! Also, "Dagon" is notable for having the best human sacrifice scene since "Lair of the White Worm."
I was at the same screening the previous fellow was at an it was very obvious to me what kind of film we were seeing. It was a classic B-Movie Horror film with all of the camera movements, dialogue, makeup and effects of a good B-movie. This film does not, at any time, present itself as anything other than being an homage to the B-Movie Genre. The trailer preceding the film, which showed horror film trailers by Mario Bava, were an indication of what we were in store for. It's seems to be so easy for people to completely miss the point. (I am not a regular fan of this genre nor did I know who Mario Bava was so I am not a blind loyalist.) It was a fun film, it was entertaining. Actually, there were some very striking underwater shots.There also were moments that were extremely creepy and there was a lot of value for the budget they had. Good gore. I also know that the director, Stuart Gordon, is a guy who is well aware of what the film is and what its intended audience is. After all, it is very easy to pick friday the 13th or any of these films apart if one wants to appear superior. Is that the point? If you want to see a good horror film in the style of "Night of the Living Dead" and that style of film, "Dagon" is worth renting.
I'm not a huge Lovecraft fan. Don't get me wrong, the man was a master
- but that's the problem I have with him. He simply wrote too well. His
mutant fish fixation has always upset my equilibrium, and his tentacled
Monster Gods still give me nightmares. Maybe, as a Pisces, I was
subconsciously insulted, I don't know...but I've never sought out
either his written works or the films based upon them. So, it was with
little enthusiasm that I watched "Dagon" one cold, rainy morning. I
This film could probably be easily lost in the deluge of direct-to-video slashers with unimaginative plots and stale gore effects, which is a shame because it is neither stale nor a slasher. Based on a short story (which runs no more than five or six pages, if memory serves me correctly) "Dagon" is a cold, slithery, unnerving tale set in one of those isolated seaside towns that Lovecraft loved so much to write about. A boat accident sends a young couple ashore seeking help for their stranded friends. There have been warnings already, in the shapes of underwater nightmares suffered by the young man; a huge, submerged stone disk, a mermaid with a vampire's mouth, etc. The town's listless inhabitants soon reveal themselves to the terrified young couple - white, slimy gills and fish black eyes make their appearance, and by the time they do, it is too late.
There's a beautiful syren with mesmerizing eyes and an unfortunate case of tentacles, a bloody sacrifice above a stone pit, a sick face-ripping scene, a self-immolation and a twist ending. "Dagon" is hardly a throwaway slasher flick - its a dark, nasty, twisted fairy tale with neither a happy nor an unhappy ending. People with fish phobias probably would do well to steer clear, but this is a very well done little film that deserves better attention.
This movie is based more on "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "The Festival" or "The Stange High House in th Mist" than on "Dagon". Still, this sort of strange tale tends to fall into a certain pattern and if you enjoy this movie, you may find that you like Lovecraft's tales also. This movie captures the atmosphere of many of these stories and presents some of their weird concepts as well as any I have seen. It also plays sort of like an adventure serial, so it dosn't hurt that the hero is played in the manner of Harold Lloyd. There is plenty of comedy and gruesomeness, and the question of whether human self-determination or monstrous outside forces are stronger gets asked, in a nice graphic, non-preachy way. My only complaints are the "orchestral crash" which accompanies some of the shock effects, and the fact that aside from one showing in Hollywood two days ago, this movie seems destined only to be seen on the small screen in North America!
Dagon: 9/10: Early on in his novella Mountains of Madness H.P.
Lovecraft paints the following picture. "On and around that laboratory
table were strown (sic) other things, and it did not take long for us
to guess that those things were the carefully though oddly and
inexpertly dissected parts of one man and one dog"
I bring this quote up because so many who are casually equated with the Lovecraftian genre naturally assume he wouldn't approve of the sex and violence portrayed in modern film versions of his work. He of course had to work within the mores of the day as he sought to get his works published in magazines often read by children. Graphic sex and violence was no more acceptable in the popular fiction of the 1920's and 30's than it was in the movies of the same time period. He however often pushed the boundaries of the time and though Victorian by both birth and nature he creatively expanded what was acceptable.
Dagon is a movie filled with nudity and very graphic violence. It is also simply the best Lovecraft adaptation ever. A combination of the title work and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Dagon creates a phenomenal atmosphere and doesn't let up. The tension is palatable for almost the entire running time till the grand finale (which I'll admit was a little to much Lair of the White Worm for my tastes).
The make up and special effects are wonderful(with the exception one bad blink and you miss it CGI effect). The actors (at least the ones that are intelligible) do a fine job. But it is the incredible foreboding atmosphere that propels the movie along.
Filmed on a low budget they apparently found a remarkably frightening real life city that didn't need a lot of dressing up. Add a cast of stranger and stranger "creatures" and you simply have a winner. If you are unfamiliar with the Lovecraftian canon this is a great B movie. If you love his books however this is pure bliss.
I half-expected this to be a mindless gore flick, but it turns out that this
is a very good adaptation of one of Lovecraft's better stories. I have only
two quibbles with the film: for one, it should have been called "The Shadow
Over Innsmouth," the story it is based most on - "Dagon," I believe, is
about a WWI U-Boat captain whose ship sinks and who finds the temple of
Dagon under the Atlantic. Second, why try to show Dagon? That makes no
sense - Lovecraftian horrors are best left to the imagination, just off the
Other than that, though, a very nice horror movie/thriller that deserved a theater release, not a straight-to-video sentence.
TINY SPOILER ...when heaps like THE CAVE, THE CORE, WHEN A STRANGER
CALLS (remake)get spread over every other cinema (UK experience)? It
has budget related flaws and couple of cheesy moments, but when you
compare it in the imagination and shear stick-to-a-weird-story spirit
department it piddles all over most movies, never mind recent offerings
from a 'fringe' genre like fantasy/horror.
This captures HP Lovecraft ideals with a mix of tongue in check cheese, sincere homage, inspired interpretation and a measure of terror and gore that fits the mood perfectly.
The acting is... passionate, the prosthetics competent and the pace/plot/script often inspiring (seriously - apart from the Star Wars moment... you'll know when it happens).
Good looking - good effort - so why am I more likely to see a sequel to THE CAVE on the big screen than a film of this ilk? Makes me want to take up reading.
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