Janne the Director’s Favorite Rare Movies Top 100 List #51: The Dunwich Horror (1970)
51. The Dunwich Horror (1970)
I really don’t like movies about the occult or voodoo or witches. Why? Constant jungle drum chanting turns me off.
But I like this one. Mainly because Dean Stockwell pulls out such a weird performance as some kind of young Vincent Price. He is such a great villain because he has no idea how much of a loser he is. He has to take the fucking bus into town to pick up a girl to sacrifice for his occult rituals and he can’t fight for shit. Still he remains stoic and slick.
Another cool thing is that the girl he manages to pick up (with the help of those hypnotic Stockwell eyes) is fucking Sandra Dee. And it’s always fun to see the young Talia Coppola (later Talia Shire) even if it’s just briefly, in a Roger Corman movie.
The occult thing still bores me – I just don’t have the patience with people who can do impossible things if they just learn how to quote emo poetry in dead languages. But they do use it to get some great visuals here and Curtis Hanson‘s script (yeah, the L.A. Confidential-guy) don’t suffocate the movie with it. They try to make it feel more like a classic Roger Corman in Edgar Allan Poe-mode with great art direction and the feel of a ghost story instead of jungle drum chanting.
There is a very Lovecraftian scene (well, I guess I should call it a “rape scene”) that is just a visual epileptic seizure that made me think of the tree-scene in Evil Dead but the similarities doesn’t end there; one of the main “characters” here is the Necronomicon, Stockwell mentions a “army of darkness” and there is a POV camera stalking the woods. (But there are none of Sam Raimi‘s Three Stooges-acts to be found.)
I should mention the music that starts out great but gets repetitive after a while and when it gets weird they go into Moog spooookyness that is just lame. But it sums up the movie somehow: there is a lot to love but it comes with a lot of crap. Pure Corman.
I should also mention that there is a 2009 remake with Dean Stockwell but it’s so bad that if you are a guy it will break your penis and if you are a girl it will give you a penis… and break it.
PREVIOUS ON THE LIST: 52. Candy (1968)
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