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John’s Horror Corner: Dagon (2001), a lovecraftian love story with lots of tentacles and a good face peel!

March 24, 2013

MY CALL:  Director Stuart Gordon (The Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls) is no stranger to H. P. Lovecraft and I think he really nailed this one.  This is a B-movie, and it shows, but it’s a great one.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  This is a tough one… Bleeders (1997) touches on the same mood, shocking nature and romantic overtones and does so with similar quality and inventiveness.  SIDEBAR:  Based on the short stories “Dagon” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

After a yachting accident in a storm, the affluent Paul (Ezra Godden) and his girlfriend Barbara (Raquel Meroño; Beneath Still Waters) find themselves on the shore of a rundown fishing village off the coast of Spain.

Finding the city nearly barren, they take shelter from the storm in the Church of Dagon which bears a strange symbol which Paul has seen in his dreams.  The people of the town are all quite odd.  A priest (Ferran Lahoz; Darkness, Faust) of the Church of Dagon has webbed hands, the hotel manager has gills and never blinks, and many of the people are stunningly pale, ranging from deathly anemic to even albino. We very quickly discover that this town and its people are under the influence of an ancient Cthulu sea god and its monstrous half-human offspring.

Aaaaaand cue tentacles!

Separated from Barbara early in the movie, our protagonist Paul strikes me as the first person to die in a typical horror movie.  True to Lovecraftian form, he is weak, pale, neurotic, desperate and scared.  That said, Paul is perhaps the most credibly pathetic horror protagonist out there.  However, unlike The Re-Animator and From Beyond, this movie takes itself quite seriously.  The Re-Animator and From Beyond reach such outrageous levels of ridiculousness that they start to feel cartoonishly crazy, whereas Dagon is focused and never farcical–but quite “out there.”

As Paul searches for Barbara we learn more about the village’s history with Dagon and find intriguing connections linking Paul to the village itself.  It’s pretty elaborate and inventive for a direct-to-DVD movie… even for any horror movie.

Tentacles from mouths…

This movie features a lot of crappy CGI that you’d expect from a Sci-Fi channel movie-of-the-week.  The gore is infrequent, but there is a seriously grotesque skin-peeling scene that should impress any gorehound.  But the monster make-up and latex prosthetics were good.


Also interesting is the sexual, pseudoromantic nature of the story.  I understand this to be commonplace for Lovecraft, the sexuality that is.  But don’t think “oh, it’s just for B-horror nudity.”  No.  In this case the nudity, which is quite infrequent, is not the driving force.  Rather a taboo allure sets the strange tone, turning Paul’s terror into some perverted, yet pragmatic acceptance of unpredictable circumstances.

Tentacles for legs = Less cute.

Director Stuart Gordon (The Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls) is no stranger to H. P. Lovecraft and I think he really nailed this one.

This is a B-movie, and it shows, but it’s a great one.  Enjoy.

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  1. John’s Horror Corner: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner [INDEX] | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Lurking Fear (1994), perhaps the least Lovecraftian Lovecraft film ever made. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: The Shrine (2010), a different story told in a very different way | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), easily the worst movie ever made attempting to honor Edgar Allen Poe’s work | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: The Resurrected (1991), a most pleasant Lovecraftian surprise | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Old School Horror Corner: The Curse (1987), another satisfying melty mutant zombie movie | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: Night of the Tentacles (2013), an obscene Faustian tale illustrating the tentacle-rich Lovecraftian consequences of ObamaCare | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: In the Mouth of Madness (1994), not a Lovecraft story, but clearly made for fans of Cthulhu mythos. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: The Dunwich Horror (1970), an early Lovecraftian adaptation about a dark family secret and a tentacle monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: The Strangeness (1985), a bad tentacle monster movie with some redeeming Claymation monster effects. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: The Creature Below (2016, aka The Dark Below), a British tentacle monster movie that makes an effort. | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. John’s Horror Corner: Society (1989), uniting “classy” high society flesh-melding orgies and monstrously gory creature effects. | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Cold Skin (2017), elegantly mixing Dagon (2001) with The Descent (2005) in this gorgeous film! | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: The Unnamable (1988), a Lovecraftian version of Night of the Demons (1988). | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), the revenge of the bare-boobed Lovecraft demon. | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. John’s Horror Corner: Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell (1981; Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake), a cheesy frog monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  18. John’s Horror Corner: Dreams in the Witch House (2005), Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s story for Masters of Horror. | Movies, Films & Flix
  19. John’s Horror Corner: Dolls (1987), a heavy dose of 80s-nostalgic murderous stop-motion demon dolls from goretastic director Stuart Gordon. | Movies, Films & Flix
  20. John’s Horror Corner: Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), a Lovecraftian horror anthology loaded with disgusting gore and slimy tentacle monsters. | Movies, Films & Flix
  21. John’s Horror Corner: Cthulhu Mansion (1992), a haunted house B-movie capturing none of the magic of H. P. Lovecraft. | Movies, Films & Flix
  22. John’s Horror Corner: Color Out of Space (2019), manic Nic Cage meets the alluring madness of HP Lovecraft (done well for a change). | Movies, Films & Flix

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