Die, Monster, Die!

October 11, 2011 at 2:57 am (8 Heads, Die, Monster, Die!) (, , , , , , , )

Die, Monster, Die! – 1965 – United States/England

Disregard the hokey title. Die, Monster, Die! is a (loose) adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s The “Colour Out of Space”. An American International Pictures production made in England, Die, Monster, Die! is a lively blend of American shocks and Euro gloom. Notably, it’s Boris Karloff’s last decent movie—assuming you dislike Jack Hill’s threadbare Mexican flicks.

A confrontational ugly-mugged American visits his English girlfriend and her family at a decrepit manor. The American can’t hitch a ride with the superstitious townies so he treks through a foggy morass and is stalked by a black-shrouded figure. Sinister machinations are afoot. The girlfriend’s family is unwelcoming and secretive, but nocturnal screams and monstrous shadows arouse the American’s boisterous curiosity. Soon his fate is irrevocably entwined with the manor’s dark mysteries as he encounters radioactive meteors, eldritch cults, and mutant aliens.

Die, Monster, Die! is more ridiculous than horrifying. The embarrassingly clueless characters have dippy incongruous dialogue and motivations, and never show appropriate shock when confronting mind-unraveling terrors. Worse still is the lousy editing. The numerous awkward cuts and continuity errors are distracting and the prevalent “jump out” scares are obnoxious and juvenile.

Thankfully Die, Monster, Die! triumphs over its shortcomings via continuous ghastly horror. There are repulsive creatures aplenty: glowing melty-faced mutants, titanic killer plants, and amorphous fleshy aliens. Quoting the American, “It looks like a zoo in hell.” Equally imaginative are the optical effects. The shimmering neon tornado in the opening is beautiful, and even the run-of-the-mill glowing orbs are used tastefully, never betraying their simple illusion.

Die, Monster, Die! doesn’t skimp on ominous atmosphere either. Through the quaint village, desolate countryside, and crumbling manor, the bleak mood evokes a sense of the primeval. Harsh lighting and angular compositions compliment intricate sets with billowing smoke machines and stunning matte paintings. The overpoweringly lurid color palette is also worth mentioning.

Die, Monster, Die! strikes an intriguing balance of science fiction and supernatural horror. Lovecraft’s strength is ambiguity. His monsters defy explanation, appearing as fleeting nightmarish visions. Die, Monster, Die! isn’t quite so masterful. Like Lovecraft’s original, the meteor’s mystery is never comfortably explained, but the menagerie of creepy critters parades about, howling and attacking folks with no subtlety. It ain’t clever, but Die, Monster, Die!’s gruesome punch will probably satisfy monster fans.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. Die, Monster, Die! is better known as a song by the Misfits.

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