Saturday, November 1, 2008

Going Green: Die, Monster, Die!(1965)

I am a great fan of actor Nick Adams. I always have been. I grew quite fond of the actor's steady and solid presence in the Toho films Invasion Of The Astro Monsters(1965) and Frankenstein Vs Baragon(1965), the latter also known as Frankenstein Conquers The World. Sometimes when I watch these two movies it's easy to forget that Mr. Adams also appeared on television. One of his many TV appearances was in a 1964 season one episode of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea entitled "Turn Back The Clock". Adams was actually nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as well(he didn't win) in 1963 and enjoyed success as the character "Johnny Yuma" in the TV series The Rebel.

One of my favorite movies featuring this actor is a horror movie directed by Daniel Haller and released to theaters in 1965 called, Die, Monster, Die!, an 80 minute feature based on the story The Colour Out Of Space, written in 1927 by H.P. Lovecraft.

The film's story: American Stephen Reinhart(Adams) has traveled to England to visit his girlfriend and former college classmate Susan Witley, who resides in the gloomy Witley mansion, along with her father Nahum Witley(played by Boris Karloff), and her ill, bedridden mother, played by Freda Jackson. It doesn't take long for Reinhart to discover that something is definitely rotten in the state of Denmark, in this case the town and the local citizenry, who immediately shun Reinhart at the mention of the name "Witley". Reinhart arrives in town to a sullen and close-lipped populace, and finally makes it to the gloomy, fog-shrouded Witley estate on foot. The elder Witley(Karloff) wants Reinhart to leave and Susan and her ill mother want him to stay. Reinhart hangs around, his curiosity and caution about the Witley place understandably aroused by bizarre shrieks in the middle of the night, a mysterious cloaked and veiled figure prowling the grounds, even attacking Reinhart with a knife at one point, and the mysterious death of Merwyn, the elder Witley's personal assistant. As Reinhart and his girlfriend Susan discover, there's something in the greenhouse, and it's definitely not your typical vegetable garden. There's also something in the cellar of the Witley mansion, and it's not a wine collection. Turns out Nahum Witley has been giving sanctuary to a large green and glowing meteorite, which has caused some unusual plant life to flourish in the greenhouse, the space rock also having a decidedly catastrophic influence on various occupants of the Witley mansion, including old man Nahum Witley himself!

Observations: I believe this film is solid. The presence of legendary horror actor Boris Karloff is a big plus, despite his advancing age(he's 78 years old at the time of this film's lensing). The visual effects used to depict the Witley mansion and surrounding estate are basic, with matte paintings, some fog effects and the occasional screech of a crow. Still, they work. Combine these with the cacaphony of shutters slamming, doors creaking and the occasional animal-like shriek and you have the necessary audio effects upon which to play out the character's interaction with each other. The makeup effects are serviceable. There is something of a "cheese" factor in this movie, and I think the "dinner table" scene may have been a bit too long, but this movie has, like a great pair of jeans, aged well, for me anyway, and it has become a steady comfortable fit for me as well, whenever I need to watch an older horror classic, that doesn't take itself too seriously, to cheer me up. The Region 1 DVD of this movie(a MGM Midnite Movies title) is good quality, and offers scene selection, language options, and a theatrical trailer. It is presented in 2.35:1 letterbox format.

The trailer for Die, Monster, Die!