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|Index||16 reviews in total|
Someday, H.P. Lovecraft might get a big-budget adaptation, but until
then, it's B-movies all the way and this is as "B" as you can get, and
I actually admire it for not trying to be more than that.
Unfortunately, except for some good effects late in the film, there's
not much here worth recommending. The 1970 film of the same title was
mostly just inspired by the Lovecraft story; this version sticks a bit
more closely to the original tale about the awful Whateley family and
their blasphemous breeding of human woman and the demonic monster
Yog-Sothoth in an attempt at opening up a portal for the horrific Old
Ones to return to Earth. Wilbur Whateley (Re-Animator's Jeffrey Combs)
is a drooling backwoods idiot (supposedly a 10-year-old who has aged 40
years physically) looking for a missing page in the evil book The
Necronomicon which will allow him to finish the rite of re-entry.
What's been added to this version is a romantic lead couple, played by Griff Furst and Sarah Lieving, who are helping a Miskatonic University professor (Dean Stockwell) find the missing page before Combs does. There's lots of Lovecraft name-dropping; in addition to Miskatonic University and the Necronomicon, we meet Alhazred the Mad Arab, the author of that evil book, and Olaus Wormius, a decadent Necronomicon scholar. The decent opening sequence is right out of The Exorcist, there are nice effects in the climactic scene involving Yog-Sothoth's appearance, and an effective brief shot of an ancient Lovecraftian landscape. Furst, who sometimes looks like Peter Sarsgaard or the early Mickey Rourke, is good, but the rest of the cast is mediocre, including Stockwell (who played Wilbur in the 1970 film) who practically sleepwalks through his part. Very bad dialogue doesn't help anyone, and why they felt the need to transport Lovecraft's New England towns to the Bayou is beyond me--the change adds nothing interesting.
In Louisianna, the thirty-five year old single mother Lavina (Lauren
Michele) delivers a baby boy and a monster in the evil Whateley House.
Ten years later, Dr. Henry Armitage (Dean Stockwell) and his assistant
Professor Fay Morgan (Sarah Lieving) discover that the page 751 of
every copy of the Necronomicon is missing and The Black Brotherhood has
summoned the gate keeper Yog Sothoth to leave the portal opened to the
demons and ancient gods. They invite the arrogant and skeptical
Professor Walter Rice (Griff Furst) that can translate the Necronomicon
to help them to seek the book. Meanwhile Lavina's son Wilbur Whateley
(Jeffrey Combs) ages very fast and seeks the missing page to open the
"The Dunwich Horror" is a cheesy low-budget horror movie that has an awful screenplay associated to terrible acting and poor special effects. Dean Stockwell and the cult-actor Jeffrey Combs are wasted in this forgettable flick. The romance of Fay and Rice is quite ridiculous and out of the context of the plot. My vote is three.
Title (Brazil): "Bruxas" ("Witches")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some of the cast choices gave me hope. Dean Stockwell was in the 1970
adaptation of the Lovecraft classic, and there has been some law passed
that Jeffrey Combs has to be in every Lovecraft adaptation made after
1980, I think. Sadly, the two guys who you might have heard of are
barely extended cameos. Then again, so is much of Lovecraft's story,
which only takes up about 14 of the 1:45 running time of this turkey.
Fans of Lovecraft know this story. A human woman mates with the elder God, Yog-Sothoth, having a pair of twins, a human looking Wilbur who ages dramatically in ten years, and a hideous monster that eats people. Sadly, they are only in the movie for a brief period, and Combs isn't nearly trying his best. (Imagine him saying. "Hey, I've been on Star Trek! I don't need to do this Lovecraft garbage anymore!")
Most of the rest of this film is our star-crossed lovers searching for the missing page of the Necromonicon, a lot of name-dropping from other Lovecraft stories. Ugh. A romance in a Lovecraft story? No, in a Lovecraft story, everyone usually goes insane and is sent to an asylum.
Combs is probably closer to the way Lovecraft wrote Wilbur Whatley in the original story, but so what? It seems they realized they had to stretch a 44 page story into a hour and half feature on the skiffy channel.
Also, nothing in the story really emphasizes the horror of this situation. There are a bunch of alien Gods waiting to get back into our universe and kill everyone... Except for one line, there's no discussion of the philosophical implications of it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I used to read Lovecraft in my early days and I remember being
absolutely fascinated by the creepy atmosphere of his dark, menacing
world. Movie adaptations never fail to disappoint me however, probably
it's very difficult to translate his grotesque fantasies to the big
screen. With this one it's no different. You can applaud them for
trying to stick close to Lovecraft, but the flaws of this production
are so abundant that it's hard to find anything positive to say.
First of all: the special effects are terrible on all accounts, from the silly fake tentacles of the supposed monster that stretch out to the victims, and the flashes of a big sharp-toothed jaw that's supposed to belong to the mighty monster Cthulhu, up to the CGI in the last half hour that's supposed to conjure up an orgiastic climax but turns out even faker than fake.
The acting seemed over all mediocre and uninspired. Dean Stockwell obviously didn't want to bother too much and just went through the (few) motions that were required of him. Jeffrey Combs is like a piece of Lovecraft furniture that you apparently cannot do without when you do a Lovecraft-adaptation, and in this capacity he did okay. The main parts are for Sarah Lieving and Griff Furst as a love couple (is that genuine Lovecraft material?? I doubt that!). Sarah Lieving is (or has to play) a bit of a stern and stiff lady, she sure is good-looking but didn't convince me a bit as the supposed fanatic supernatural witch-hunter, she's far too restrained and civilized.
But I was pleasantly surprised with Griff Furst. I didn't know him yet but he impressed me as a talented and very natural actor with a good sense of timing and a definite sparkle of humour in his eyes - and very good-looking to boot! The part of the well-bred and educated professor who's reluctant to get drawn into this supernatural adventure but at last bravely makes the best of it, fitted him like a glove.
All in all this seems like a waste of some good material (original story, Stockwell and Furst), I rank it a meagre 3 out of 10.
Initially I was kind of excited to see that Jeffrey Combs was in the
movie, so it was with some anticipation that I sat down to watch it.
And I am a huge fan of H. P. Lovecraft's work and all the Lovecraftian
work that followed in his wake. This movie, however, was somewhat of a
lukewarm attempt, to be bluntly honest.
The story does stay fairly close to the story of the Whateley's as Lovecraft initially built it up, but at the same time there is a bit too much other loose ends thrown into the frame. Ends that are never really seen through and come full circle. In that way, there is a lot of things going on in the movie, too many things in my opinion, and most of these things doesn't really get to be concluded.
"The Dunwich Horror" suffered from a fairly weak acting crew, with most performances being mediocre to look at. Had they managed to put more enthusiastic people into the movie, it would have come out with a more vibrant and appealing result. And the dialogue didn't really help lift up the movie, because it was halting and at times embarrassing to witness.
What did work for the movie was Jeffrey Combs, of course. As always it is nice to see him in a Lovecraft-inspired movie. And his name is usually associated with such. Unfortunately, his character wasn't given enough on-screen time. "The Dunwich Horror" is not one of Comb's more impressive performances, but being a fan of his, I just had to sit through this movie. And aside from Combs, then the core essence of the Whateley's was also pretty nicely interpreted.
There was a bit too much name-dropping in the movie, with lots of references to places, people and such in the Lovecraft-created Cthulhu mythos. But most of this was irrelevant, and seemed to be put in there only to impress the really hardcore Lovecraft fans, people who are familiar with these names. To other people, it is just a bunch of random and pointless facts. The reference to (August) Derleth was, however, a bit surprising.
As for the effects and CGIs in "The Dunwich Horror", well, they were low-budget, and it was showing clearly. Hats off to them for their effort, just a shame that they didn't have a bigger budget for these effects. There were some shots where Yog Sothoth actually looked rather nice. So the effects weren't all bad. The storms that ravaged the buildings, well that is a whole other story. You have to see that to believe it!
In my honest opinion, then this adaption (or interpretation) of "The Dunwich Horror" is not really one of the better Lovecraft-based pieces of work around. Sadly, most of these movies are B-movies and often fail to leave impressions in the viewers. This is one such movie, which is a shame, because it had potential. Had they trimmed down the plot-lines and put in some more whole-hearted actors, the outcome would have been much better and would have had a chance to actually become noteworthy.
This movie reminds me of something you would see at a local film
festival (and I am not talking about Sundance or Canne).
It is one of the worst Lovecraft attempts to date. Dean Stockwell is wasted. Combs is passable... but also wasted (not that Combs ever really raises the bar of what he is a part of). The acting is all bottom of the barrel. The editing, direction and effects are horrible.
If I had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for something positive to mention, it would have to be the sets and locations. Those were well chosen.
I rarely say that a film is so devoid of merit as to deem it a complete waste of time and money, but this is one of those rare films. Save your time and money. You will just be sad you squandered them watching this trash.
However, if you like B-level schlock for the sake of a good laugh... you might be able to suspend disbelief long enough to laugh at this. But... even that would be a stretch. It is as unwatchable as movies come.
The film is as cheap and mediocre (leaning towards bad) as you can
guess. Bad directing, bad effects (that's the least), a rather sloppy
plot that doesn't really do any justice to the original material. The
acting is better than I expected, but doesn't deserve praise either.
The only real reason to watch the film is that there is such a shortage
of Cthulhu Mythos based movies (and how few of them are actually good!)
that a true fan will try anything.
The house-searching scene was the only one that showed a little bit of inspiration, albeit poorly executed. Other than that you get a pointless background (really far in the background) romance, a rather silly version of Olaus Vormius and a momentary presence of Abdul Alhazred who kind of steals the show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love Mr Lovecraft as much as anyone and there are many stories of his
I'd like to see made - and made well. Look, you can be a real Lovecraft
stickler and pick this film to bits for it's inaccuracies, etc.
However, the cover of the DVD does say "BASED ON H.P. Lovecraft's The
Dunwich Horror". And on the back - "An ADAPTATION . . ."
Before I watched it I took this movie as someone's expression of a Lovecraft story. I expected it to be, well, unfortunate. But sometimes bad movies can be at least funny.
I have to say I was surprised. No it isn't the best Lovecraft movie around (is there one?). But it's a great movie taken on its own merit. I like the location move (and a beautiful location it is too). I particularly like the scene of the boat journey through the bayou. I just wanted to be there. The atmosphere still remained and, honestly, even though New England is the 'correct' setting, Louisiana works a treat.
I thought the filming/editing of Wilbur's sections gave the feeling of his disjointed psyche and Jeffrey played a very different and disturbing Wilbur. I don't know if the wild departure from Dean's original charming (but still creepy) portrayal was Leigh Scott's idea or Jeffrey's but it worked for me.
Griff and Sarah were believable. Little natural actions that we all do everyday were there. I also liked Wormius. Again, a different way of looking at this kind of character. Not all occultists, magicians, alchemists, and other assorted spooks look like they've popped out of a fairy tale (or Hollywood) - believe me, I know.
What I liked most of all was the representation of some of the occult concepts and I really liked the use of homages to Charles D Ward, Innsmouth, Witch House, etc. I have to say that adding some of the ideas from these other stories (e.g.: the Witch House and it's extending hallway) make for recognition of astral realms explored by many in reality. And the idea that the Necronomicon does not actually exist (at least in our physical realm) but rather as the house (a gateway in itself - or rather, a kind of foyer with many doors) probably irritates those that so very much want the Necronomicon to be real (for real!). Putting all of this stuff into an astral (or, dare I say, a subconscious) setting, via the helpful 'assistance' of Wormius suggests a writer that has done a bit of research into such methods. Sometimes there is no time for training and a quick sip of metaphysical 'punch' works as well.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised and would happily recommend this film (but maybe not to hard- core H.P. fans!).
I can imagine the frustration of Hollywood producers trying to
transmute a rich and reputed mythos into money by using the same old
recipes that work for any other concept and failing miserably in the
case of Lovecraft. But they have to try.
Such an attempt is this adaptation of the short story with the same name. They start with the wise and nutty professor and his sexy assistant, join forces with an unbeliever and proceed through bad CGI to make him believe before he can use the knowledge that he already had to defeat the monster that had no chance to win in the first place. Yeah, the script is a mess, especially considering that The Dunwich Horror is one of the more classically good vs evil Lovecraft stories.
However, that doesn't mean the film cannot be entertaining. As a nod to the 1970 version, Dean Stockwell plays again for the good team, while Jeffrey Combs is a really convincing Wilbur. The horror of the possible opening of the portal to the Old Ones is rendered well, yet everything else is cheesy in a "let's make some money" way that disgusts me. Yog-Sothoth take all money grabbing Hollywood people! I hated the entire useless romantic liaison added, as well as the "team" aspect that never existed in the original material and was put here only to standardize the story to something the public is used to.
Bottom line: in the end, the Lovecraft aspect of the film is minimal, even if they kept the general plot of the story. It is the soul that they couldn't grasp. And it is strange, too, as Lovecraft is usually tending to the needs of the superego, distressed by "unnatural" events or beings; it should be easy to put that into a movie. I just don't think they get it! You need to make your viewers feel dirty inside for watching the film. That's the actual point of Lovecraft stuff!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***Spoilers***Why can't Hollywood or the Syfy Channel just read what Lovecraft wrote and do some good anthology movies of his short stories?? Trying to take one of his novella's or short stories and stretch it into an hour and one half movie is a hard task to do except for those film makers who truly love Lovecraft's writings. Dean Stockwell shows up again, not doing quite as good a job as the first time. The plot is very far away from the original written classic. Acting and special effects okay, but they should have stayed much closer to the original story. A cute girl was added for eye candy effect, also not a character found in the original story. And a rather wooden excuse for a primary hero in the college professor. Alas, poor Lovecraft!! I pray a well funded famous director will do you justice one day!!
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