DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (aka: MONSTER OF TERROR) (director: Daniel Haller; screenwriter: story The Colour Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft/Jerry Sohl; cinematographer: Paul Beeson; editor: Alfred Cox; music: Don Banks; cast: Nick Adams (Stephen Rheinhart), Boris Karloff (Nahum Witley), Suzan Farmer (Susan Witley), Freda Jackson (Letitia Witley), Terence De Marney (Merwyn), Patrick Magee (Dr Henderson); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Pat Green; American International Pictures; 1965-UK/USA)
“Because of the presence of Boris Karloff it has its enjoyable moments.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is the debut feature film of Daniel Haller (“Pieces of Dreams”/”Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”/”The Dunwich Horror”), formerly Roger Corman’s production designer, and because of the presence of Boris Karloff it has its enjoyable moments though it’s not a totally successful work. It’s taken from H.P. Lovecraft’s story called The Colour Out of Space, but like all the other films that have tried adopting Lovecraft to film has also come up short in capturing the author’s flavor.
It opens with a young American scientist named Stephen Rheinhart (Nick Adams) paying a surprise visit to a student he befriended while she attended his college in America, Susan Witley (Suzan Farmer), in her parents’ country home in the English village of Arkham. Stephen is hopeful that Susan will marry him, and has come without Susan’s knowledge but on the urgings of her mother Letitia Witley (Freda Jackson). When departing from the railroad station, he’s warned away by the villagers who treat the Witley name with contempt and refuse to provide transport. Stephen arrives on foot, walking through the eerie heath that is burned out and everything is dead. He’s coldly greeted by Susan’s stern wheelchair-bound father Nahum (Boris Karloff) and told to go home immediately. But Susan prevails and Stephen remains, where he meets her veiled mother who lives in the darkness of her bedroom. Letitia urges Stephen to take Susan away immediately and refuses to answers questions about the mysterious things going on in the creepy household. That night there’s a scary apparition in the window after the burial of the family manservant Merwyn (Terence De Marney), who mysteriously died that evening. During the day Stephen and Susan investigate the locked greenhouse by sneaking in through a secret entrance Susan knew as a child and discover because of large amounts of radiation there are grotesquely large plants and an unusual glow. Their investigation leads to the house cellar where they find a radioactive meteorite, which Nahum has been using to create mutations. This has disfigured his wife and led to the disappearance of the maid Helga (whom we will later learn was driven insane and is the apparition figure appearing while brandishing a butcher knife) and the manservant, all of whom worked in the greenhouse. We learn that Nahum wanted to do good works to make up for the evil his deceased father Corbin did in the village (apparently after dabbling in black magic), but things didn’t work out right and he couldn’t stop his experiments. It concludes as a fire breaks out destroying Nahum and the house, as Susan and Stephen escape.
REVIEWED ON 1/10/2007 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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