The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Article 2188 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-13-2007
Posting Date: 8-9-2007
Directed by Daniel Haller
Featuring Sandra Dee, Dean Stockwell, Ed Begley

A curious man (who keeps a strange being locked up in his house) from the town of Dunwich is trying to get hold of the Necronomicon for ominous reasons. Toward that end he chooses a woman to take part in an unholy ritual.

Previous to this movie, Daniel Haller had served as an art director in THE HAUNTED PALACE and had directed DIE, MONSTER, DIE!, both adaptations of other H. P. Lovecraft stories. I assume from this that he had a working knowledge of Lovecraft’s works. I had seen this movie when I was a kid, and only one scene in the movie had really scared me. Then, a few years later, I read the Lovecraft story for the first time, and it remains for me my favorite of his works and one of the scariest things I ever read, which just made the movie all the more disappointing for me.

Watching it now, there’s only one thing I really like about this movie; the way the monster is handled is really quite effective, and I love the fact that you never really get a good long look at it; I’ve always felt that the indescribable horror of the story is best left to the imagination. I still find the scene that scared me back then to be very effective (for the record, it’s the scene where the farmer and his wife find their house being destroyed around them by the monster). But the rest of the movie still disappoints. I dislike the changes that were made to the plot, and many of the performances are disappointing; Sandra Dee never really develops much of a character, and neither Dean Stockwell nor Sam Jaffe look comfortable in their respective roles. For me, the best performance comes from Ed Begley. The crowd scenes are pretty bad; I like neither the cemetery sequence nor the meeting at the wrecked farmhouse. In the end, I hope someday to see a decent version of this story. Keep your eyes peeled for Talia Shire, Beach Dickerson and Barboura Morris.


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