Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Meroño, Macarena Gómez, Brendan Price, Birgit Bofarull, Uxío Blanco, Ferran Lahoz, Joan Minguell, Alfredo Villa, José Lifante, Javier Sandoval, Victor Barreira, Fernando Gil, Jorge Luis Pérez
Written by: Dennis Paoli, based on stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Directed by: Stuart Gordon
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/gore, sexuality/nudity and language
Running Time: 98
Date: 10/29/2015

Dagon (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Something Fishy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Chicago theater director and filmmaker Stuart Gordon remains the premier adaptor of H.P. Lovecraft stories to film. This is perhaps because he doesn't attempt any kind of direct translation; Lovecraft's stories are so much about imagination and nightmares. Gordon's approach always includes a kind of twisted humor that somehow suggests the unnamable quality of the horror without trying to actually name it. Dagon was his fourth Lovecraft feature film, and, to date, his last (although he did a fifth for the TV series "Masters of Horror"). It's based partly on the 1919 story "Dagon" but also the 1936 story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," and the blend is inspired.

A quartet of Americans vacationing by boat off the coast of Spain suffer an accident. Paul Marsh (Ezra Godden) makes it ashore to try and find help, but instead he loses his girlfriend, finds a crazy old man (Francisco Rabal) and learns about a monstrous people with a terrifying plan. Dagon isn't as outright funny as Gordon's Re-Animator or From Beyond, but it has moments of spunkiness to puncture the incredible strangeness of it all. (It also features some spooky underwater photography.)

Lionsgate released Dagon on Blu-ray in 2018 as part of its Vestron Video series, complete with two commentary tracks: one with director Gordon and screenwriter Dennis Paoli, and another with Gordon and star Ezra Godden. There are video interviews with Gordon, conducted by filmmaker Mick Garris, one with producer Brian Yuzna, and one with Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi. The disc also includes archival interviews, a vintage EPK, art and storyboard galleries, a still gallery, and a trailer. The video transfer is fine, but seems to resemble a soft video look more than film; the audio is excellent. I'm happy to add this disc to my horror library.

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