“Die, Monster, Die” (1965)
The literary reputation of H.P. Lovecraft receives a glancing body blow with “Die, Monster, Die!”, an extremely casual adaptation of his celebrated short story The Colour Out of Space; a film which seems to have far more in common with the with the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations (themselves only mere suggestive shells of the original tales) of Roger Corman in which an outsider’s presence becomes an unwitting catalyst in the unraveling of dangerous familial dynamics attributable to illness, tragedy and a particularly alarming genetic disposition toward madness. This is, perhaps, a foreseeable source of influence since the first-time director Daniel Haller had recently worked on no less than five of the Poe/Corman films (including “The Haunted Palace” which, although attributed to Poe, actually had its basis in another Lovecraft story, The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward) in the capacity of art director or production designer.
But in the indulgent use of such well traveled narrative tropes which have little to do with the source material, director Haller and screenwriter Jerry Sohl mistakenly embrace a staid familiarity; a decision which comes at the expense of ultimately abandoning one of the most notable achievements of Lovecraft’s tale: the conception of an entirely unorthodox alien presence, which here is abandoned for a far more conventional source of menace. In fact, there are attempts to obscure such conventionality late in the film with a out of left field suggestion that much of what is occurring is nonsensically connected to a grandfather’s occult attempts to contact mysterious beings, which is in itself suggestive Lovecraft’s entirely unrelated Cthulhu Mythos. However, this is merely evidence of a desperate attempt to obscure the fact that the filmmakers, despite their labored attempts to create an air of unspeakable horror, are merely distracting from the film’s trading in that hoariest of post-1950 genre tropes: radiation mutation.
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