10/16/10

Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee: THE DUNWICH HORROR

There is really only one good reason to watch Daniel Haller's The Dunwich Horror, and that's for the trippy animated credit sequence (complete with a jazzy / psychedelic Les Baxter score)  that seems to feature a man and a pregnant woman searching for  a place to give birth.  One can not help but see  allusions to Mary and Joseph seeking out a barn ... of course when the hapless animated couple are devoured by a daemon, it's easy to understand that this is not the greatest story ever told - in fact, as the movie progresses, it's more, the dullest story ever told.
Once the credits are over, the plodding story of Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell), and his search for a virgin (to be used for nefarious doings) is told - and what a confusing, convoluted tale it is.  Wilbur's family has a deep dark secret, his mother is locked away in an  asylum, his brother is an inter-dimensional monster who causes LSD-trip-like lights to flash whenever he's around, his grand father walks around all day carrying a staff, and none of the people in the charming town of Dunwich seem very fond of poor Wilbur.  Oh, and he's also prone to stare at you with his mesmerizing eyes.
One day, Wilbur set's his gaze on the virginal Nancy (Sandra Dee), and before you can say, "Cthulhu", she is under his spell, moving into his creepy Victorian mansion, drinking spiked tea, dreaming of being ravaged by colorfully painted cultists and just staring off into space - This is certainly Sandra Dee's finest performance.
look at me, I'm Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity...
 For some reason, a few folks notice that Nancy is missing and they go searching for her, and show up at Wilbur's mansion (which from the exterior, looks like a farm house decorated for a Rob Zombie film).
OK, so a lot of other stupid stuff happens, and eventually Talia Shire (billed as Talia Coppola) even shows up as a gossipy nurse...
Rocky, you can't win!!!! - oh wait, wrong movie.

Finally, the monster brother escapes his room, the mansion burns down, some of the townspeople are killed, Wilbur gets struck by lightning, and Nancy ends up knocked up with what, one assumes, is another monster.  The end.

No doubt about it, this is one lousy movie.  Fans of Lovecraft should be advised that only the bones of his short story are here, and the rest is just all smoke and mirrors...but then again, there is always that groovy Lex Baxter score.


5 comments:

forestofthedead said...

Loved this film. Excellent review!

wavingpalms said...

And it's a shame, because the source material is excellent (Welles did a radio adaptation that was pretty good).

I'm something of a Lovecraft scholar- the work stands on its own merit, but also we share a birthday! (but Robert Plant, Connie Chung, and Gandhi are crowding us for it) and I work I've found an original copy of a walking tour that Lovecraft wrote after visiting my beautiful city- he had it mimeographed by a friend that worked for Con-Ed (has the watermark!), and mailed them out to his friends one Christmas. Neat stuff.

Still, this was a disappointing picture.

JMS

wavingpalms said...

Also, this is Miss Dee's Weird Period- did a Night Gallery segment, too, which was equally... misguided.

Rob said...

One of your funniest reviews; I've been giggling all through it: "... For some reason, a few folks notice that Nancy is missing..."
Hahaha! Oh yeah, this is an AWFUL movie.One imagines poor Sandra was trying to gritti-fy her wholesome image by appearing in a horror film but America's Sweetheart just can't seem to commit to the material("These Demon thingies are just so..icky!")I don't care, she's still adorable. But man, this sucks.

Jack Veasey said...

This movie is abysmal, but I have a soft spot in my heart for it. I get major laughs out of Dean Stockwell's bug-eyed performance, especially his Spock-like hand mudras. And I longed for a sequel with the monstrous offspring popping out of Dee Alien-style, but alas, the times didn't permit (not to mention the fact that no one would sequelize a flick this bad!)