The Dunwich Horror (1970) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
77 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
6/10
Decent adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story.
capkronos20 May 2003
Sandra Dee (the original GIDGET to you beach bunny fans) is Nancy Wagner, a virginal blonde student at Miskatonic University who meets Wilbur (Dean Stockwell), the grandson of a warlock who was lynched years earlier.

Wilbur shows interest in the Necronomicon and in Nancy, because he needs both to open a gateway for demons called "The Old Ones" to enter our world. He invites her back to his secluded home in Dunwich, where he keeps her drugged, plots to sacrifice her on a seaside altar and fights with his senile, ranting grandfather (Sam Jaffe). A strange-looking, barely-seen, multi-headed flying monster that sees things in negative (and looks kind of like GHIDRAH!), is kept locked in the attic, but escapes for the silly finale.

It's amusing to see the once-wholesome Sandra Dee saying sex is "great" and simulating orgasm while being groped on an altar, but she should also get credit for delivering a decent performance. Ditto Ed Begley in his last role as a heroic professor. Stockwell is so soft-spoken and weird it's hard to gouge just how good (or bad) his performance really is.

Compared to most recent H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, this isn't half bad and it all looks very cool and colorful. Roger Corman was the executive producer. Director Haller also made DIE, MONSTER, DIE, which was based on Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space."
42 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
The Dunwich Horror: More than a little disappointing
Platypuschow19 October 2018
I remember reading Lovecrafts classic The Dunwich Horror back when I was a boy, I always enjoyed his works and nobody else could write quite like him.

As I grew older and my movie obsession truly took hold I was astonished how bad almost every Lovecraft adaptation was, seriously awful stuff.

It's taken me a longtime to get round to the original 1970's movie and I can confidently say I'm more than a little miffed.

Starring Dean "Quantum Leap" Stockwell and Sandra Dee this is a very loose streamlined version of the tale and it simply isn't very good.

Upon investigation it turns out that The Dunwich Horror has been adapted quite a few times and I can only hope the others are better than this. It looks terrible, it doesn't do the source material justice and strip Dunwich from it's title and you'd likely not even realise it was a Lovecraft piece.

Utter mess and that's a damn shame.

The Good:

Dean Stockwell is on form

The Bad:

Some weird choices for the score

Really crummy sfx

Things I Learnt From This Movie:

The best method of tackling a man with a spear is to dive right onto it

H.P Lovecraft was the original purveyor of hentai
11 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Hippie Horror
Gafke24 April 2004
Dean Stockwell (sporting a 'fro and looking like a sinister disco king) visits Miskatonic University in hopes of "borrowing" the original Necronomicon. It seems that Dean is the grandson of a powerful wizard, and the illegitimate son of a woman who is finishing her days in the padded room of an insane asylum. Sandra Dee and her huge helmet of blond hair accompany Dean back to his isolated farmhouse where she is quickly drugged, talking about sex, having orgasms on altars and dreaming about strange beings (who rather resemble Manson Family members) who chase her along the misty sea cliffs. Suspicious friends arrive to help the stoned Miss Dee, who has no desire to be rescued from her creepy new boyfriend or his awful perm. But the well meaning friends learn some shocking truths about Dean anyway: he has a twin brother, and if looks are anything to go by, then their Daddy was a mutant sushi dinner.

There's some pretty decent creepy moments to be found in this film. The mood is nice and eerie, the atmosphere as thick and creepy as the fog that lies thick along the coastline beside Dean's house. We don't get to see much of the Twin Brother, but the POV shots are nice, done in blood red negatives. Dean Stockwell delivers a truly icky performance as the not-quite-human Wilbur who succeeds in seducing virginal Sandy, whose Good Girl image goes bye-bye here pretty quickly. The ending is a tad rushed and somewhat silly, but everything leading up to it is nice and tense, with minimal gore and some haunting sound effects. I give it a fat 8 on a scale of 10.
51 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Gidget does Hell
RanchoTuVu6 November 2008
Interesting film about a young college coed who becomes involved with a young man who has connections that extend well into the underworld and who only needs the right book to unleash them. Sandra Dee in a surprisingly sexy role as the young student and Les Baxter's very nice soundtrack just about save an effort where the actual film doesn't do justice to its title. Nonetheless the production design creates creepy atmosphere especially in the seaside alter where Dee is nearly undressed while Stockwell prepares her for the arrival of Satan himself. And there is a certain amount of imagination involved in the film that combines a nice mixture of classic horror themes with hip sensibilities.
19 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Campy Yet Worthwhile Lovecraft Adaptation
"The Dunwich Horror" of 1970 may not be great Horror, but it is nonetheless a worthwhile little film that has many qualities. The film is based on the writings of the almighty H.P. Lovecraft, which may be one of the reasons why many fellow Horror lovers find it to be disappointing. Many films based on Lovecraft writings are downright brilliant all-time Horror-greats, above all Roger Corman's "Haunted Palace" (1963) with Vincent Price (which was marketed as a Poe-adaptation), Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" (1981) and Stuart Gordon's "Re-Animator" (1985), just to name three absolute masterpieces inspired by this great writer's work. "The Dunwitch Horror", of course, comes nowhere near the brilliance of films like those just mentioned, it is not even comparable to films like these, and it is certainly no classic, but while the film has its flaws, it is still an entertaining film that has its qualities.

I will not go into detail regarding the plot, but, as usual for Lovecraft adapt ions, the Necronomicon, and the 'Old Ones' play an important role. The quality of the performances differs. Sandra Dee, is sexy and nice to look at in the female lead, and she even reveals some of her charms, but her performance is quite awful. Dean Stockwell (who sports one of the most fake-looking mustaches in motion picture history) arguably delivers the best performance in the film, and the cast furthermore includes Sam Jaffe and the weird-looking Ed Begley ("12 Angry Men", "Hang 'Em High") in one of his last roles. Talia Shire also has a small role. The visual style is very much a matter of personal taste. The film has a nice general atmosphere and cool settings. The occasional flashy colors, in which the whole screen turns at some points, don't really fit in and annoy at times. The films greatest aspect is the excellent score by Les Baxter, which contributes a lot to the atmosphere. The film has a brilliant animated opening credit sequence, which is another reason to give it a try. All things considered, "The Dunwich Horror" is certainly no great film, but even though it is quite cheesy and never really suspenseful it is yet a highly entertaining little film that I recommend to fans of occult fun.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
does Sandra Dee really show it all in this movie?
funkyfry9 October 2002
A kind of disappointing foray into the realm of Lovecraft. Dee looks like she's lost in a library, not in a twisted necromantic nightmare. Stockwell is fun at times and he's a good actor but Haller lets him play too broad to be convincing. the legendary "topless Sandra Dee" scene lasts all of 2 seconds, and I thought it looked like it could just as easily have been anybody's (well, almost anybody's, but possibly not even Sandra Dee's!), because the camera dollied behind Dee's head and got dark on her just before showing it, so a switch and edit could easily have been accomplished. That means, if it IS a true totless shot, the cameraman and Haller should be ashamed for making it look fake.

Surely, Roger Corman should have exercised a stronger hand over this one (or somebody should have). Still, it's fun and kind of different. Will not particularly please H.P. Lovecraft fans.
23 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Good movie marred by a couple of flaws.
Aaron137521 March 2004
I liked this one, but it was not without its faults. One of these is clearly the monster. It does not look to good, but on the bright side they try to cover up its appearance with weird flashing lights and they usually only show it by showing its point of view. Another problem is I found myself pulling for Wilbur to succeed in his rituals. I am sure that is not the makers of this movies intent. This one has a man wanting to see a book at a library that contains many rituals for bringing those called the "old ones" to the earth. He can't convince the man in charge of the book to loan it to him, but he does get a gal to drive him home and stay the weekend. His house is rather drab, but she seems okay with it. She soon becomes part of his plans to bring the "old ones" to earth. Meanwhile, her friend and the guy with the book investigate the guy. Overall I liked it, but I wasn't thrilled with the ending as it did not seem right to me. The old guy was about three or four steps behind in everything to me, so it didn't seem right that it should end that way. Some nudity in this one, but not all that much. Could have used a bit of gore too, but the story is interesting enough to keep my attention anyway. Based on a Lovecraft story that probably explains the monster. He always describes such horrors in his story that they are nearly impossible to duplicate by building them or using computer graphics.
25 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Calling it 'The Dullwich Horror' would be too easy...
The_Void5 September 2006
The writings of the great H.P. Lovecraft have lead to some truly great films, but unfortunately his stories aren't always enough to carry a film through, and despite the fact that this film features all the elements of a successful Lovecraft adaptation - The Dunwich Horror is a sadly lacklustre movie. It has to be said that the film does look very nice - for a low rent early seventies production, the cinematography is surprisingly crisp and the locations look good - but this isn't matched by the story, which is always intriguing but director Daniel Haller lets the suspense build and build and then makes the cardinal blunder of not giving his audience a worthwhile payoff at the end. The plot revolves around one of Lovecraft's most famous creations - the Necronomicon, a book which can supposedly summon alien Gods to Earth. Wilbur Whateley wants this book so that he can complete some ancient rite, and in order to do so he needs the services of Nancy Wagner - a young University student that offered him a lift home when he unfortunately missed his bus.

The film is packed with provocative imagery (for the time), and includes a nude scene for Sandra Dee and a whole host of trippy psychedelic scenes. However, while he was doing all this stuff, the director forgot that he was actually filming a horror film - and because of that, there's barely any horror on display at all and the closest we really get to anything horrifying is a vibrating door with a bolt on it. Naturally, it's not long before all this starts to get more than a little bit boring as you can only watch a bunch of meaningless characters swan around for so long. However, the way that the director builds suspense is sometimes intriguing, and I have to admit that I did want to know what was going on - the fact that the ending is so pithy pretty much cancels that out, however. There is a good sequence mid-way through in which we find about the birth of the main character and some other scenes are interesting (like the fight between our warlock and a library security guard...), but overall there really isn't much to recommend this film for and I don't doubt that my fellow Lovecraft aficionados will be disappointed.
13 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Not Too Bad Mix of 1970 Psychedelia & Lovecraft
martin_houser6 March 2002
If I had watched this with a bunch of friends, we would have laughed and thought it was awful. But when watched alone at night, without a critical attitude, it is creepy and effective as only an old, cheap horror movie can be. Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee give low key, almost distracted performances that, intentionally or not, contribute to the eerie tone, and presentation of Dean Stockwell's unearthly twin was very atmospheric and evocative - a good example of how to play on the viewers' imagination (a lost art in most of today's horror movies). The movie has a titillating sexuality (which seems very 1970 but quite un-Lovecraftian but it has been a long time since I've read his stuff) with a few quick almost subliminal nude shots.

Part of my enjoyment of the film was nostalgia - it reminded me of tv shows and movies I enjoyed as a kid in the early 70s. Dunwich Horror is very similar in style to the Night Gallery tv series (which was rarely successful, but I still enjoy watching it if I get a chance).

So - not a great movie, but good if you like this sort of thing and are in the right frame of mind. The DVD looked pretty good, especially the color.
13 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
YOG SOTHOTH! The Old Ones must come!
Scott_Mercer3 December 2008
Another movie featuring Gothic horror that collides with late 1960's psychedelic/Hippie clothing, fashions, design, etc. It makes for a potent combination that is somewhat silly but great fun to look at.

The rumor is that Peter Fonda was supposed to play the lead but Dean Stockwell stepped in at the last minute. It would have sure been a different movie with old Pete. Stockwell gives the role a creepy yet seductive intensity. Could Fonda have done the same? Not so sure about that. I tend to think that Peter Fonda would have been a little too "slick" for this role, that is, too much on the side of the sleazy seducer and too little on the side of the menacing necromancer. But, who knows, that's just my silly idle speculation, as Peter never did the role.

This would make a great double feature with "Simon: King of The Witches," also currently available on DVD. Filmed shortly after this film, also has a warlock, and a lot of trippy psychedelic visual effects. Also great fun to look at and quite entertaining performance in the lead role by Andrew Prine.
8 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Unmoved and Unhorrified
bkoganbing20 November 2013
As Sandra Dee got older her youthful virginal image did not play well in the 60s counterculture. The Dunwich Horror was an effort to save her career and break the typecasting.

Sandra getting a little long in the tooth for a college student meets a rather strange Dean Stockwell who is looking a rare book that professor Ed Begley has. It contains some spells that will bring some creatures from another dimension and Begley doesn't want to part with it. Stockwell then steals it and returns home with Dee.

Dean's got big plans for Sandra. She's to be part of a ritual that will open up the portals to another dimension. And he's got reason to want to bring these beings into our universe.

The Dunwich Horror didn't serve the careers of Dean Stockwell or Sandra Dee very well. Ed Begley does well in a sympathetic role, one of his last. But I was singularly unmoved by it all.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
"If he were a straight guy I wouldn't be worried." So bad it's decent.
poolandrews4 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Dunwich Horror starts as a strange fellow named Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell) ask's college professor Dr. Henry Armatige (Ed Begley) whether he can borrow the magical book of the Necronomicon, Armitage refuses. Whateley's sinister attention then turns to college student Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee) who offer's Whateley a lift home to the small town of Dunwich after it turns out he missed the last bus, it turns out to be a less than inspired decision as Whateley 'fixes' her car so she can't go anywhere & convinces her to stay for the weekend. Dr. Armitage & Nancy's friend Elizabeth (Donna Baccala) become worried when she doesn't return & set out to look for her, Elizabeth has the unfortunate luck to find the 'thing' which lurks in the attic in Whateley's house while after some investigation Armitage discovers that Whateley is in fact trying to resurrect an ancient race of evil beings from another dimension & he plans to use Nancy as the virgin sacrifice...

Directed by Daniel Haller The Dunwich Horror is far from the best film out there but if your in the right mood & have a certain aptitude for this sort of over-the-top badly dated horror film from the 70's then you might just like it. The script by Curtis Hanson, Henry Rosenbaum & Roland Silkosky was based on the short 27 page story by H.P. Lovecraft & you can tell because this film is pretty stretched out, to be fair not that much actually happens apart from Whateley kidnapping Nancy & her friends come looking for her before the sinister truth is revealed which is pretty obvious to begin with. Hving said that The Dunwich Horror is full of bizarre scenes which make it watchable on a 'what the hell?' sort of level. There's Whateley's weird Grandfather who carries what resembles a large lollipop around with him, the scenes when the thing from the attic attacks & the whole screen flashes red & everyone just sort of falls over or the bits in the insane asylum which are funny & then there's the bit when Nancy is enquiring about her friend Elizabeth whose car is outside & who has met the thing from the attic but within the space of a half a scene Nancy suddenly loses all interest in her so-called best friend who is missing. It doesn't have a great pace to it, it's not particularly exciting, it takes itself far too seriously & it lacks exploitation elements but I thought it was an entertaining laugh all the same.

Director Haller adds much unintentional hilarity to the proceedings, the way people talk, behave, the set-ups, the story & the film is terribly dated which adds a certain charm to it. The opening credits are amazing & worth watching on their own, I doubt there's many like them around. There's nothing one would describe as being scary & there's no blood or gore either.

Technically The Dunwich Horror is OK, it looks like a 70's detective show with some very garish colours & embarrassing fashions. I have to say though that I really rather liked the music. The acting is either terrible if it was unintentional but an absolute brilliant masterstroke if it was deliberate.

The Dunwich Horror is a entertaining way to pass 90 odd minutes for all the wrong reasons, for those who like their films pretty out there. Remade as Dunwich (2006).
11 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Limited by its time
JoeB13124 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This was one of the first movies to mine H.P. Lovecraft's works for a plot, using the story of the same title, but radically changing the plot interactions and characters. (The story was a linear progression from the view of outsiders, while the movie was told from the perspective of Wilbur). It's keeps a lot of the ambiance of Lovecraft's tale, but is completely different in its take. It also includes a lot of 1960's occultism that would have embarrassed HPL.

Dean Stockwell is creepy as Wilbur Whatley, the more human looking twin spawn of Yog-Sothoth. Where the movie falls down is in the actual monster twin,(the main focus of the story, but an afterthought here.) It looks like a guy in a costume, and no amount of filtered photography was going to take away from that.

The selling point of this movie is Sandra Dee, who manages to be quite sexy as the intended sacrifice/receptacle for the Old Ones. The level of sex in this movie would have gotten an NC-17 today...
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Fair adaptation of Lovecraft
coop-1614 April 2000
The film boasts fairly good performances by some veteran Character actors. Ed Begley is a rock-like Armitage, and Sam Jaffe is an appropriately mangy (and deranged) Old Whately.However, it could have benefited from much better direction and a tighter script.It would also have helped to set it in the Twenties. Perhaps Tim Burton could do a remake. In fact a couple of Lovecraft's tales could stand retelling by Burton-or Lynch.
12 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
So So Movie,Great Beginning Credits and Theme!!
happymundo12 March 2006
I saw this movie when I was around 13 years old.I felt the movie seemed a bit like a "movie of the week".

The only great thing about this movie was the intro at the beginning and the theme of the movie.

The intro (beginning credits) was a scary cartoon done in shadow.In the cartoon you see a woman giving birth to a baby to be quickly taken away by the "devil" who then eats the baby! Very strange to say the least.I tried to get the soundtrack on CD but I had to settle on getting a 12 inch record.

When it came on DVD,I bought it just for the intro!
13 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
The Power Of A Good Story
Xex-Arachnid27 August 2006
I rented this movie today and went over to my sisters to watch it. She took out the movie that she was currently watching to check out what I had. I guess she was enchanted by CGI and dumb dialog because in mere disappointment, she said, "what is this old sh#%?!" when the opening scene was playing. By looking at my "you're a simpleton" stare, she was quiet and continued to watch the movie until it froze.

Due to this being a very old CD that was used many times, it was dirty as hell and I had to take it out to clean it.

Needless to say, once it was cleaned, the show was on and going and I had not heard another peep of disapproval from her because the story is a great one despite it's out of date dialog and mannerisms.

I will not go into the story of this movie but rather just ask, who doesn't like a good 'ol HP Lovecraft story? I'm sure there will be many who will pick apart the movie because it's not up whatever standards that they hold but in defense of it, for its day (1970) it's pretty good.

It doesn't matter if the blonde was dumb and oblivious to evil, or dean stockwell's fake mustache, or a semi, photo transparent, hologram monster, or old school 3D visuals of horror.

I mean anyone here knows that in this day and age, if we're lucky to have a girl (purposely) stranded at our house for the night, we just don't offer them a nightgown, but hey, at one point, I guess that was what people did. But none the less (again) it's a good film for it's time and still decent enough to stand up to most of the crap that's coming out of the celluloid grinder.
9 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Good stuff...
trevor_the_machinist17 April 2007
PAINFULLY slow. Dean Stockwell's steady and faultless monotone didn't help either, no matter what he's describing it's the same droning voice. Just add some really long and drawn out scenes to this for the real horror.

Wilbur meets Armitage hoping to persuade him for time to study the Necronomicon, but is refused. So then he lures Nancy to his home and drugs her, using something which makes it's subject sleepy and prone to suggestion. After stealing the book everything is ready for his ritual, lucky for the human race Armitage arrives in time to save the day.

There's no joke about how much suffering this movie caused me, it has few redeeming qualities. One is that Elizabeth's clothes are all ripped off when the monster chomps her! (NO IDEA why that happened, but it's cool.) I stopped the film to get a good look at this "monster" - it really is a mass of latex snake heads and arms. They only give glimpses to prevent you getting a really good look and I don't blame them.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Mildly interesting adaptation of H.P.Lovecraft's story.
HumanoidOfFlesh23 May 2005
"The Dunwich Horror" is the second H.P.Lovecraft adaptation from art director Daniel Haller("Die,Monster,Die!")is actually another flawed attempt to capture the unimaginable darkness of Lovecraft's literature on film.Sandra Dee plays Nancy Walker,a young college student who is lured into the mysterious house of Whateley by the creepy young warlock Wilbur Whateley(Dean Stockwell).The local community has long suspected that the whole Whateley family-Wilbur,his grandfather(Sam Jaffe),and his mother,who is in an insane asylum-is unholy,and soon their suspicions are confirmed.Wilbur intends to use Nancy as a human sexual sacrifice that will unleash dark powers-represented by his monstrous twin brother,who exists in another dimension-across the earth.Occult professor Dr.Armitage(Ed Begley)discovers what Wilbur's up to,and with the aid of Nancy's roommate (Donna Baccala),he tries to stop it."The Dunwich Horror" is a psychedelic little horror film that offers some interesting visuals.The film is slow-paced and there is absolutely no gore.It relies more on suggestion than shocks,so if you like old-fashioned horror give it a look.7 out of 10.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Gidget Meets Cthulhu
janhatesmarcia14 May 2006
This movie is a HOOT! Unintentionally, of course--which makes it all the better. Dean Stockwell moves through most of the movie like he's heavily sedated (or maybe in shock at finding himself in such a bad movie), only coming to life in the film's climax.

Poor Sandra Dee--the eternal virgin--has to learn the hard way never to give strange young men a ride home from the library.

Psychedelic "special effects" complete the experience...all of it taking place in the accursed hamlet of Dunwich...but I won't spoil the fun by saying any more. Let me just add that I am a fan of Lovecraft's & should have been miffed at this botched attempt...but I was too busy laughing.
9 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
perfect example of how a director can ruin a film
RobMcC27 December 2000
Although this film has hints of the chillingly mysterious horrors that are conveyed in Lovecraft's stories, in is incredibly boring, awkward and stilted. The best performance in the film is turned in by Sandra Dee, which may give you a clue about the low quality of the acting by such generally competent performers as Ed Begley and Sam Jaffe. Dean Stockwell phones in what must be the worst job of his career. The dialog is at times incoherent. The special effects abysmal. The editing, non-existent. I lay the blame for most faults squarely on the shoulders of the director, a former designer and art director on some classic horror films who seems to be well out of his area of competence here. The film clearly must have had a lowest of the low budget as well. Alas, we have yet to see a really good treatment of any Lovecraftian tale on film.
6 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Amongst the Top Ten Worst Movies Ever
Mayhemartist19 August 2004
I, a Lovecraftian fanatic, want my money back for ever purchasing the DVD--just watching the trailer made me want to throw it out the window! I suppose for its time it entertained people half-way, but today? I am insulted. Upon watching this, I cared more for the dignified soul of H.P. Lovecraft, that is if he ever had the chance of viewing this in the possible afterlife, since he himself was fascinated with film in the 1920s, and would have been honored to have this "classic horror tale" be displayed unto the screen--BUT NOT LIKE THIS!!!

One good quality: the psychedelic sequences were interesting, and Elizabeth's death looked decent--that's all! I recommend to all who's fascinated to first read the short story "The Dunwich Horror" by Lovecraft, and then view it. You will be shocked--because this "loose adaptation" is missing the true qualities that make the story come to life. Wilbur Whateley was only 15 in the story, yet 9 feet tall, had the most revolting death sequence in mid-plot that's worth seeing cinematic ally, and "Nancy Wagner" along with her girlfriend were not characters within its 10 chapters. Once you understand that "The Dunwich Horror" is a prize-winning story, then you shall see how big of a let-down this movie is. I can say that Daniel Haller at least tried his best, but it's just damn surprising to think that this came out the same decade "The Exorcist" did, so what went wrong with this!?

The screenwriter butchered the masterpiece that Lovecraft created. Daniel Haller made it a laughing stock. Dean Stockwell took some punches (literally, with a security guard), but did very little if no research in how to behave as a demonic hybrid, except growing a mustache and sideburns. Ed Begley did what he could. Sandra Dee didn't belong, but if she was aiming to pass off as a vulnerable, brainless blonde, then yeah she succeeded in putting the "whore" in "horror," not that I'm saying she's a bad actress, just had a bad character. The only real feeling I get after getting done viewing it is that bitter taste in your mouth that vodka leaves in the back of your throat. At least in 1970 all the high school boys had a reason to take their girlfriends to the drive-thru, and were better off not watching it and making out in their back seats.
7 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Awful
Captain_Roberts23 November 2004
This movie is so terrible it is difficult to find words to describe it, but I shall make an attempt. There is a severe lack of production values, including shots filmed at dusk, blatantly dropped into scenes taking place in the dead of night. Seeing people walk around with searchlights, where the light around them is brighter than that of the searchlight, is pretty darn silly.

There are a few nightmare sequences in the movie, all of them terrible. It seems that Producer Roger Corman paid a few aging hippies to run around mostly naked and covered in body paint. Filmed with a vaseline smeared lens, the nightmare scenes would have best been filmed with the lenscap on. The same could be said for all of the oddly colored negative shots that are so indicative of a late 60's early 70's occult horror film.

There is a fantastic cast to this film, but they are horribly wasted. Sandra Dee spends half of her screen time writhing about like a bashful pornstar (no wonder this was her last film) and Dean Stockwell seems almost ashamed of the horrible dialog that he is forced to spew forth. Oscar winning Ed Begley sleepwalks through this movie, uncovering the entirety of the truth with an ease that only a horrible script could provide.
6 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
A 'HORROR' as in awful movie
xmw6722 April 2000
I have had this film on tape for many years, but had never got around to watching it until last week. I am very interested in horror films, and in particular some of the fairly obscure 70's productions. After having watched this film, i can't understand where the 'horror' part of the title actually occurred in the movie - maybe some other imdb users can enlighten me. Why wasn't it simply called 'Dunwich'?. This was an incredible waste of what was actually a good cast - i mean a film based on an H.P.Lovecraft work must surely have maybe a little tension, suspense, or terror?. To make matters worse, the story was not even presented in a very coherent manner - maybe that's a bit harsh as i did fall asleep once or twice - ok maybe that's when the 'horror bit' happened before anyone tells me!!.
5 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Dull and boring but above all things also a real bad movie.
Boba_Fett113829 June 2010
To be honest I really didn't hate watching this movie for its first half. Yes, it all was kind of slow but I thought that this was merely a build up to something great, exciting, mysterious, tense. But none of that was the case. The movie gets progressively worse and even reaches a point that it becomes almost a totally unwatchable one.

This is a movie that just never takes off. Its story just goes nowhere and it is simply a ridicules one. The concept is just too dull for an horror. The only way this type of story could possible work out is if it has a good dark, mysterious atmosphere. Something that this movie just doesn't have. It's not the type of story that provides the movie with lots of blood, monsters or scary moments. It's more about its haunting atmosphere and mysterious story and characters, which this movie just doesn't know how to handle well. There is just nothing happening and when there is it's just too ridicules and far from interesting. You also often have no idea what is happening because of the messy, offbeat way the movie gets told.

It's an early '70's movie but it already has a typical sort of experimental '70's style over it. This style already sort of started off in the late '60's, so it's not really a great surprise or something renewing or original for its time. But it was this style that still made the movie a good and interesting one to watch at times. It's about one of the only positive things I can say about this movie really.

I just really started to loose interest in this movie as it progressed. Instead of developing, the story becomes only more and more simplistic, dull and just plain ridicules. It was written by the then still young Curtis Hanson, who would much later go on to win an Oscar for "L.A. Confidential". I also really feel that it was more the director's fault than the writer's that this movie turned out so bad and messy. After the halve way point it seems like they had no idea anymore what they were doing or what they were trying to create at all. The story itself got based on a short H.P. Lovecraft story but the fact that there still never have been made a good movie based on the story should already also tell enough. It's a story that might work on paper but just doesn't translate very well to the silver screen and doesn't make a good horror movie, or just movie in general, at all.

The movie has Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee and Ed Begley in it but still I can't say I was too happy about the casting. Perhaps the way Dean Stockwell was sexy back in the early '70's, though I highly doubt it. And he was supposed to be a very charming and seductive character, who completely got a girl like Sandra Dee in his grip. He just looked like an '70's porn actor, without any charm or charisma. He was absolutely boring and miscast in his role. It's even more sad that Sam Jaffe is also in this, who I like very much as an actor. But due to the story, dialog and directing, all of the actors come across as '50's B-monster movie actors, that often act against nothing. They must have thought they would fix things in post-production but they just messed up big time with it.

A boring, slow mess, that is lacking as an horror movie and just as a movie in general as well, at basically every department.

3/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
The Dunwich Horror
Scarecrow-889 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Sandra Dee, out of all people, portrays the endangered protagonist, a college student seduced by the hypnotic(..key word)charms of warlock Dean Stockwell who wishes to to open the gateway for unleashing "the old ones" from another dimension and needs the Necronomicon, in possession of Professor Ed Begley who tours campuses lecturing on the book's content and origins. He wishes to use Dee as a sacrifice to the demon gods on the cliff-side ruins of an ancient alter. Sam Jaffe hams it up as the loony grandfather of Stockwell and Lloyd Bochner is the village doctor Begley confides in to stop Stockwell from what he plans to do regarding the gods which await re-entry into our world and to Dee, sexually! I found the film, at times quite atmospheric and moody(..mainly the first 45 minutes), but the ending is sh!T. Loved the score by Les Baxter, although it seems, at times, to resemble the background music of a Scooby Doo episode. My favorite shot has a camera looking out from a burial plot after the death of a specific character as Stockwell attempts to perform a ritualistic ceremony. The film's night sequences at the end as a band of angry villagers, following behind Begley and Bochner, are attacked by a creature( that looses itself from a locked room in Jaffe and Stockwell's home), within the woods drove me nuts..you can't see a damn thing unless the director lets loose those color schemes which operate loudly as the monster's "sight" when it confronts possible victims. And, the face off between Begley and Stockwell as Gidget lays on the sacrificial alter in orgiastic(..under an induced hypnotic state, although one might use that as a description of Dee's performance)bliss is laughable. I loved the opening animated credits sequence. Considering this is an AIP production, I was disappointed. At times moody and interesting, other times painstakingly dull. I think the film benefits from Stockwell's strange character--with his soft voice and sinister eyes, Dean Stockwell is wonderfully weird; he has these unusual signet rings, curly locks, and oddball air about him quite suitable for someone into the occult and the dark arts.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed