Horror Movie A Day: Quint on DIE, MONSTER, DIE (1965)
It looks like a zoo in hell!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.]
Unfortunately, this movie didn’t do it for me.
I love me some Boris Karloff, especially of this era. Have you guys seen Peter Bogdanovich’s TARGETS from 1968? Fucking awesome movie that gives Karloff one of his best “badass moments.” Those who have seen the movie know exactly the shot I’m talking about, Karloff striding through the drive-in, determination etched on his face.
And Karloff isn’t bad in this movie, but boy… the filmmaking sure is. In fact, none of the actors drop the ball in the movie, from stone-jawed lead Nick Adams to damsel in distress Suzan Farmer to mystery woman behind the veil Freda Jackson… all do their best with decent material… but I can guarantee you, having not read up on anything about this picture, this was a troubled production.
It feels like they were missing shots and many shots feel like filler, only there for connective tissue. Nick Adams and Suzan Farmer… can you walk from left to right past camera looking like you’re both robots with expressionless faces… oh, and make sure you don’t say anything so there’s an awkward silence for 10 seconds as you walk from one conversation to another… great, thanks!
I see this was Daniel Haller’s first film and it feels it. Haller was a Corman regular behind the camera, working on flicks like LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, A BUCKET OF BLOOD, THE TERROR, THE RAVEN and many more as production designer and/or art director. This is his first directorial film and I think what we’re left with is a movie filled with growing pains… film school realized into a movie.
Haller also directed the very first film of this HMAD series, THE DUNWICH HORROR, also an HP Lovecraft story, and then spent the rest of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s directing television, so I’m sure he became very good at what he does. For all my issues with DUNWICH, I find it to be a much more competent film than DIE, MONSTER, DIE.
In a weird way, this film mirrors another HMAD based on another literary master of the macabre’s work, Edgar Allan Poe’s THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.
In both you have a creepy handicapped relative who is trying to keep their family from leaving a tortured and tormented house. In USHER it is Vincent Price trying to keep his sister from leaving and in MONSTER it is Boris Karloff trying to keep his daughter from leaving. In both films, the young woman’s true love shows up and tries to pull them free.
In every way THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER is the better movie… I think it’s just a better story, to be honest, but I’m no expert on HP Lovecraft, so I can’t tell you how much of this is the fault of the filmmakers or the original Lovecraft story “Colour Out of Space.”
I’ve read a fair amount of Lovecraft and greatly enjoyed it, even if very little stuck with me after reading. I don’t know about the rest of you, but what sticks in my mind isn’t Lovecraft’s plotting or characters, but his tone… that dread that just seeps out of each word on each page.
Have we ever really gotten a great Lovecraft adaptation? I love RE-ANIMATOR, but that movie doesn’t have the tone I’m thinking of. Unless I’m missing something, I think maybe DAGON got the closest… I guess we’ll have to pray to Cthuthlu that Guillermo del Toro will take his “I can make any movie I want for any budget” card that he earns from directing THE HOBBIT and make AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS and the streak can end.
What you do have in DIE, MONSTER, DIE is a very small section where we see mutant plants that are effectively disconcerting. The greenhouse is home to these plants (which look like giant octopuses in cages) which were fertilized with kryptonite… I’m not kidding… much.
What’s causing the land surrounding this mansion to be barren and void, avoided by the people of the nearest township (Lovecraft’s go-to Arkham) is a meteorite that crashed down when Karloff was a little boy. His father became obsessed with it and locked in the basement, ultimately going crazy.
Karloff is following in his father’s footsteps, but isn’t willing to acknowledge his obsession as the same thing until it has literally destroyed everything he cares about.
Oh, and spoiler here, but he decides to fight the green rock and becomes infected by it… turning into the Silver Surfer… a radioactive, insane Silver Surfer who becomes the monster at the end of the movie. It’s fucking ridiculous, but at least it has some fun spectacle to it.
Final Thoughts: If the filmmaking was better and not so choppy, sloppy and haphazard this would have been a pretty good little movie… they had the talent in front of the camera, that’s for sure, but ultimately we’re left with a mediocre film that could have and should have been much better. Keep an eye out for some familiar character actors in the town, like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE’s Patrick Magee in a throw-away role as the town doctor and a few lines from Sydney Bromley who will be instantly recognized by anyone who grew up in the ‘80s as Engywook from THE NEVERENDING STORY (“To the witch, wench!”).
Today’s pick from my list of horror favorites will be a bit different from DIE, MONSTER, DIE, so apologies for lack of continuity, but this is a title that I think deserves a big mention and I figured it’s about time we get to it.
WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? was a surprise to me when it arrived in the mail from Dark Sky. I sometimes get their stuff, so I assume I’m on one of their lists. A lot of their titles are still on this list… I don’t know what it was about this one that made me put it in right away and not let it languish on the “To Watch” pile… It was probably the title. How intriguing is that title?
Directed by Narciso Ibanez Serrador (THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED) this 1976 flick is an amazing experiment in creepy atmosphere in bright sunshine that keeps building and building and building.
Basically you have two English tourists in Spain, a husband and his pregnant wife, who decide to boat out to a small island village to get away from the tourist Spain. They want the real deal.
When they get there, they notice a pack of kids roaming around who seem a little shocked to see the couple. They run off and the couple go in look for a hotel, but soon discover the town is all but abandoned.
There’s no evidence of any horror, but it’s just empty. Creepy. Deserted… except for the children. No adults are anywhere to be seen and the kids don’t seem all that friendly towards the tourists.
But they do show a freaky fascination with the woman’s pregnant belly.
As any horror regular can figure out, that’s not going to end well and when the finale comes your mouth will be hanging open.
You can put this film in the “Nature Gone Wrong” category, too, in a weird way. You’ll see what I mean if you run this flick, but it makes a very fascinating political message that I was definitely not expecting.
And speaking of tone earlier, this movie is dark as shit. You know nothing is going to go right for our hapless couple and indeed nothing does. In fact, when you think it can’t possibly get any worse… it sure as fucking does.
I highly recommend giving this one a spin if you haven’t seen it!
Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October:
Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here!
Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD!
Next up is:
Now, I’m not a big Lars Von Trier fan… nor am I fan of the Dogme style of filmmaking… I like my movies to look cinematic, that’s part of the artistry of film to me. But I hear really good things about this flick and I’m very curious to see if this one turns me around on the man’s work. See you folks tomorrow for EPIDEMIC!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Oct. 30, 2008, 5:14 a.m. CST
Oct. 30, 2008, 6:07 a.m. CST
Did you miss a day?
Oct. 30, 2008, 6:35 a.m. CST
Quint, this is the first time I've TBed about this column. It's great and it's become the first thing I look for when I click on AICN. But Epidemic probably isn't going to sell you on von Trier's later works, because it's the sort of visually dazzling, highly cinematic stuff that he was reacting against when he and the others came up with the Dogme manifesto. This and Europa have very little in common with the later Dogme films. Which means you'll perhaps like it more than you're expecting, and maybe it might help expand your POV on Lars that will help you appreciate the restrictions he puts on himself later on... then again, I just discovered a whacky 'The Office' style comedy he did a couple of years ago that just appeared out of the blue on DVD in Australia, so even someone who's been watching him through his whole career (i.e. me) can be startled by his changes. And ricarleite, go back a few entries. The second review is a kind of bonus, a film that's one of Quint's favourites (thus NOT fitting into the AMAD idea of him catching up on stuff he 'should have, but hasn't seen') and that he wanted to bring to the readership's attention. And boy, this entry's extra film... *shudder* That is one fucked up movie.
Oct. 30, 2008, 6:48 a.m. CST
The 10 or 15 min Opening Prologue of Who Can Kill A Child is of REAL LIFE Footage of Cruel Pain & Suffering to Children caused by War is Truly One of The Most DISTURBING Things I have ever Seen!!! The Beginning of This Film is TRAUMATIC to even Watch
Oct. 30, 2008, 6:54 a.m. CST
are going to review Squirm? a lot of the films on your list won't be reviewed right?
Oct. 30, 2008, 8:21 a.m. CST
Although his films are mostly miss for me.<br> BTW: Another German poster? Do you post them for me or just because they were there? ;) ("Das Grauen aus Schloss Witley" = "The Horror from Whitley Castle",)
Oct. 30, 2008, 8:30 a.m. CST
by The Nihilist
...my favorite on the list, the month is over, and the Movie Gods chose not to gift us with it (though House of Usher was a nice consolation prize). Quint, consider this a request to work it in some time during the regular AMAD rotation. Or, if you want to do something different next October, put up a list of potential movies and take requests from the audience instead of random drawings, and consider this the first request. Otherwise, enjoyed this month and enjoying this column an awful lot.
Oct. 30, 2008, 9 a.m. CST
... Dan O'Bannon's "The Resurrected" with Chris Sarandon, at least for my money. Its based on "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and it takes some liberties, but the tone is just right.
Oct. 30, 2008, 9:05 a.m. CST
first you tell everyone to list the films they feel need to be on the list. Every resonable suggestion taken to heart, if it's horror and on DVD it has a chance. A vote poll system is used 1 vote per user for 1 film. All the movies picked before september starts. after the 31 winners are votewon. You have to go out and get them by october. Think of it. Quint at the mercy of the fans to see the ones they think are overlooked and forgotten and deserve the attention. Make that 5 votes per user. You have to sign in and vote on five films placed in the list of choices. Once you do this you can't do it again.
Oct. 30, 2008, 9:11 a.m. CST
The best lovecraft adaptation has to be, hands down, In the Mouth of Madness...it's not based on one story, but loosely pulls in the ideas in the lovecraft mythos--the melding of fiction and reality, horrors so great they can drive someone insane, people turning into monsters, hell, even the old ones returning to our world. It's great BECAUSE it isn't based on one lovecraft story. Instead, it takes the elements that lovecraft does GREAT and melds them into a more modern, fleshed-out 20th century tale. Most lovecraft stories are all tone and situation, not plot, so you have to start from scratch to get a story that will work on film. ITMOM does this without losing the sense of horror and dread, the tone that HP Lovecraft is known for.
Oct. 30, 2008, 9:13 a.m. CST
by sean bean
is what this title actually means, officer.
Oct. 30, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST
by Guy Gaduois
About 1977 I saw 'Die, Monster,Die' on KTVU (channel 2, Oakland) during 'Creature Features' with another movie and the only scene I remember was a chick tied up and suspended by her wrists while worms or some critters crawled up her feet and legs. I remember because I had fallen asleep during 'Die, Monster, Die' and awoke to a screaming chick with wormy critters crawling up her legs. <p> KTVU was a funny station - I think they used the station in "Mrs. Doubtfire", and back in '77, there was a guy who was like Capt. Cosmic or something, hosted a show for kids where they ran Ultraman and the like, had a call in phone competition called 'TV Pow' where you played voice activated Atari (basically) and then the same guy hosted 'Creature Features' on Friday night. <p> Who cares, am I right? And all because 'Die, Monster, Die' is mentioned, you all have to be subject to the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind. I apologize, but not sincerely.
Oct. 30, 2008, 10:52 a.m. CST
I've said this before: Lovecraft film adaptations are difficult for one very simple reason - his characters tend not to have motivation. What I mean is that they do things that they know they shouldn't be doing for reasons that they can't explain. That can be fun on the page, but I don't know how someone could translate it to the screen. There are some exceptions, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" stands out. Again, not that anyone cares
Oct. 30, 2008, 12:16 p.m. CST
for me, From Beyond and Reanimator were the best film adaptations. i do like Dagon, Necronomicon and In the Mouth of Madness as well.
Oct. 30, 2008, 12:41 p.m. CST
Masters of Horror: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0643109/ Best take on Lovecraft themes ever. That is all.
Oct. 30, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST
...is the best part of THE RESURRECTED. He's brilliant. Every other aspect of the movie veers between "pretty good" and "awful."
Oct. 30, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST
Nope, didn't miss a day. In the week leading up to Halloween, I've been throwing in a bonus at the end of every HMAD, a personal favorite horror film of mine that doesn't tend to get enough eyeballs or isn't appreciated like it should be. So far we've had In The Mouth of Madness, Sleepaway Camp and Who Can Kill A Child?<BR><BR>And Nihilisit, I don't know where you pulled The Raven from... maybe in my mentioning it in the article above, but I have seen that one and it was never on the list for this month.<BR><BR>We only have two more HMADS left, but probably another month's worth of horror left on the list. Those films I don't get to will be shuffled into the regular A Movie A Day stacks, so never fear. I will, eventually, get through them all if this column lasts long enough. heh
Oct. 30, 2008, 2:49 p.m. CST
That was Captain Satellite on KTVU. I grew up watching him. Real name Bob March. I think he was one of the hosts of "Dialing for Dollars" on that station later on.
Oct. 30, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
do it exactly the same. the folk who want the rules changed - let the readers nominate and vote on films - don;t get it. 1. It's not a democracy. 2.) that would violate the entire AMAD concept of these being films Quint hasn't seen. 3.) it implies that quint has to just run out and buy and watch whatever you tell him to and 4.) it presumes everyone's favorite horror film is available.<p>That's four good reasons against changing the concept, but here's the one good major reason for leaving it as it is: It's Quint's comumn.
Oct. 30, 2008, 3:43 p.m. CST
by Napoleon Park
for not giving Gerard Damiano an obituary. They do a talkback for "Nailin Palin", they get all geekgasmtastic over Zack and Miri making a porno, Every week they host dozens of obscene comments about Script Girl. It's not like AICn is unaware of porn or too good for it.<p>but Gerard Damiano, the single greatest, most innovative and creative, hell, the most artistic and influential (and successful) adult film producer, director, writer or all time passes without being acknowledged. Sorry if this is the wrong spot to bring this up, I'm hoping Quint might consider it since Harry and Mori have ignored requests.<p>Considering they were explicit hardcore XXX films, Damiano's movies were all over the genre map - slapstick comedies, musicals, romance, melodrama, fantasy, science fiction. The man wasn't just a genius, he was a FILMMAKER.
Oct. 30, 2008, 5:42 p.m. CST
by Neil Peart
I think I saw this one back in the seventies. Didn't the meteor turn out to be a semi-animate creature that looked like a paper-mache muppet in a bowl of dry ice? And didn't Karloff have a manservant in this movie who ranted about diamonds (or, as he pronounced it die-uh-mawnds) and how he was going to be king of the world? Or am I thinking of an entirely different movie?
Oct. 30, 2008, 6:40 p.m. CST
by Zoviet Squid
You know, I'm not big on the Dogme95 style either - but if there's one genre that actually might benefit from it, it's horror. I haven't seen Epidemic, but Riget/Kingdom is simply incredible and chilling, with amazingly surreal, off-putting imagery and atmosphere, as well as being completely funny at the same time - and it's all served by the Dogme95 style. <p>Too often horror's impact is insulated with the Teflon sheen of high production values, but damn does the documentary-look really sell the mood and tone in The Kingdom. I guarantee you'll love it if you haven't given it a chance yet, Quint.</p>
Oct. 30, 2008, 7:02 p.m. CST
I was so stoned when I watched this when I was in college. Greaet stuff.
Oct. 30, 2008, 9:17 p.m. CST
Without having to see the Giant Claw. Consider yourself lucky for now, and hope you lose the dvd so you never have to view it in rotation.
Nov. 1, 2008, 7:32 p.m. CST
Nick Adams addresses this inquiry to five or six villagers who shun him or run the other way. Get a hunt, Nick. Buy a compass.
Nov. 10, 2008, 7:51 a.m. CST
by The Amazing G
which came first?
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