Die Monster Die/The Dunwich Horror Daniel Haller

This two-film collection is an odd combo of H.P. Lovecraft-penned films that find correlation with the legendary horror writer's name and director Daniel Haller. Die Monster Die, based on the story The Colour Out of Space, features a wheelchair-bound Boris Karloff in a starring role that, unfortunately, isn't as significant as some of his earlier horror work. The story strings the viewer along with a secretive "what's in the basement?" narrative that never reaches the anticipated climax. Karloff plays Nahum Witley, a scientist who after discovering a meteorite learns to embrace the rock's radiation despite the deformation of his wife as a result of the meteor's arrival. Witley's daughter's fiancé (Nick Adams) comes to visit and quickly discovers that things aren't right in the haunted house, eventually uncovering the secret, which leads to the gripping finale where Witley undergoes a transformation at the hands of his mystery. Die loses a lot of its edge and shock value in its weak adaptation of the Lovecraft tale and doesn't offer much in action and excitement until its rather lacklustre conclusion. The Dunwich Horror, unfortunately, suffers from the same problem: not enough intrigue in the first half to make it a solid film. However, this Lovecraft story — written for screen by a young Curtis Hanson — packs more of a diabolical punch, despite the fact that it isn't that much of a better film. Dean Stockwell plays Wilbur, a warlock in training with a kinship to Satan who sets his sights on the beautiful Nancy (Sandra Dee) to sacrifice to his dark lord. During his attempt to do so, his deranged long-lost twin, a truly abominable monster, is freed to ravage the town's folk, which, even though it is an interesting sub-plot, tends to confuse Wilbur's purpose. The disorienting attack scenes shot in vivid colours are a neat twist, even though they distract from the film. The acting, however, is what really destroys this movie, as a young Stockwell doesn't quite get "creepy," and as beautiful as she is, Dee is rather lifeless as the naïve virgin. Not known for being great film adaptations, Lovecraft's work has been portrayed better than in these two films, but then again, there has also been much worse. Approach with caution. (MGM)