Comments Off on The Dunwich Horror
There is a right way and a wrong way to woo a lady. 1970’s The Dunwich Horror is mostly ’bout the latter.
And that’s Horror with no W, kids. The Dunwich Horror with a W is a whole other kinda movie, and I don’t need to embarrass Aunt Sally by talkin’ ’bout it here.
But enough about found family memories–back to the flick. The Dunwich Horror takes its name from the H. P. Lovecraft short story of the same name, which means this flick is gonna be like my last visit to the voting booth: spooky an’ weird. That’s right: Old Ones, cosmic horrors, human sacrifices, and an appearance by everyone’s favorite book, the Necronomicon (sound familiar, Evil Dead fans?).
A young Dean “Quantum Leap/BSG” Stockwell stars as Wilbur Whateley, a smooth talking fellow who is quick with the glad eye when it comes to Nancy, played by Sandra “Gidget” Dee. (A bit o’ trivia: Stockwell would play a supporting role in the 2009 made for TV version of Dunwich Horror). Wilbur wants the Necronomicon, and it ain’t because it makes a great coffee table book.
Yep, Wilbur is fixin’ to summon some kinda bein’ from another place, and I don’t mean relatives from Cheboygan: something far, far worse. And he will do anything to get the book, even if it means breaking into a library with all the lights on in the middle of the night and having an awkward fight with a security guard.
Wilbur needs Nancy for his devious plans—she’s kinda like the quarter for his phone call to the Other Side. Wilbur proceeds to hypnotize, drug, and manipulate Nancy. Not the best start to any relationship, especially when Wilbur breaks her car on purpose, so she can’t leave his super-creepy house.
Boyfriend of the Year, Wilbur ain’t. Next time, just try flowers, or even a drawing of flowers might work.
Fans of Rocky and The Godfather, take note: Talia Shire (as Talia Coppola) has a role as a nurse.
Since this was made in 1970, there are a few straight-up ‘freak out’ scenes when Nancy is under the influence of Wilbur’s mind altering drugs. These scenes include, but ain’t limited to: orgies, ancient people in loin clothes, body paint, sacrificial altars, beds in fields, stomach tattoos, and crazy super-imposed shots of faces and colors, and what-have-ya.
Then there is the Dunwich Horror itself, no, not Wilbur’s hairdo: the thing kept in a locked room, at the top of the stairs, which someone lets out.
B-movie Survival Tip: Never open a locked, shaking door at the top of a staircase.
Once the creature is released, all Hell breaks loose. There are some pretty good ‘less is more’ scenes with the beast, and it is one of the stranger Hollywood creatures caught on film.
While downright bizarre in a few parts, The Dunwich Horror is worth a watch for any H. P. Lovecraft fan. Sure, it is obvious this flick was made on the cheap (it is a Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff joint), but that is part off its charm. The plot does keep you guessin’ and there are a few ‘WTF’ moments, which makes any b-movie worthwhile. Plus, the animated title sequence is all kinds of interesting.
And if that ain’t enough to convince ya: The Dunwich Horror was co-written by future L. A. Confidential/Losin’ It/8 Mile director, Curtis Hanson.
Tiger says, give this one a watch.
Tiger Sixon is forced to watch B-movies from the comfort of a secret government base in Death Valley. He looks nothing at all like Daniel J. Hogan (@danieljhogan) who draws comics and writes humor for Clattertron.