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Dagon – Making Lovecraft Proud From Beyond the Grave

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Caught this excellent adaptation of a H. P. Lovecraft story on the Sci-Fi channel a little over a week ago. For the unacquainted, Lovecraft wrote many stories using the concept of evil, older and vastly terrifying races of beings that make the Judeo-Christian tradition of Yah-God look like kids playing marbles.

This story, set in a fishing town, has to do with how the villagers spurned the church of the Nazarene in favor of an ancient sea-deity. The deal they thought they were making was worship Dagon and you will catch more fish, but the Thing extracted a higher price.

The town has metapmorphosed into a gaggle of slumbering sea-mutants, and they’re after the luckless kids who get shipwrecked on the isle.

Suspense and scares are fun, but for me the real Lovecraftian sensation came at the end, when two characters swim for the underwater dwelling of the great sea beast. They were so puny against the temple, it really communicated the idea that there are races out there that are practically incomprehensible in age, size and horror. Watch the movie and see if the ending doesn’t remind you of an any getting sucked down a garbage disposal.

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About Frank Giovinazzi

  • James Russell

    Cool. This is a film I really need to check out, especially since I’ve discovered it’s actually been released here. As a Lovecraft fan I know the disappointments that Lovecraft-derived movies tend to be, but I’ve heard some not bad reports of this one…

  • Bob Mozark

    This movie is actually more based on Lovecraft’s novella “Shadow Over Innsmouth” than his short story for which it is named, “Dagon”. The movie manages to remain true to the spirit of SOI, despite bringing it forward from the 1920s to the present day and changing the setting of the fishing village from Massachusetts to Spain. I, too, watched it first on the Sci Fi Channel and then purchased the DVD, which contains a fair amount of blood-drenched nudity in the climatic scenes involving the hero’s significant other (her addition being another change from the original story).

  • http://www.ubersportingpundit.com/hotbuttereddeath/ James Russell

    But, of course, the insertion of any female figure into a Lovecraft adaptation is a change from the original :)

    Saw the film last night, will have a review later.

  • http://www.stoicartist.com Frank Giovinazzi

    James and Bob – Thanks for the comments, especially the film being based on SOI.

    I haven’t read either story in a while, but for me the impact of the movie was its ability to capture Lovecraft’s conception of horror.

    And let’s face it — some of the rubber masks on the fish people were unintentionally hilariuos — like the bad facial hair in the movie, Gettysburg.

  • http://www.stoicartist.com Frank Giovinazzi

    James and Bob – Thanks for the comments, especially the film being based on SOI.

    I haven’t read either story in a while, but for me the impact of the movie was its ability to capture Lovecraft’s conception of horror.

    And let’s face it — some of the rubber masks on the fish people were unintentionally hilarious — like the bad facial hair in the movie, Gettysburg.

  • Sarah e.g.

    After delighting in James, Machen, Lefanu and Blackwood, I’m just starting to get into Lovecraft. Good Lord, how I love this subgenre.
    Has any of M.R. James’ stuff ever been dramatized (besides on the radio)?

  • http://www.ubersportingpundit.com/hotbuttereddeath/ James Russell

    There were a few James adaptations for British television in the 1960s and 1970s. The BFI has lately released a couple of them on DVD. There was a more recent series hosted by Christopher Lee which adapted a number of James stories.

    Of feature film adaptations, IMDB only lists two (one of them Jacques Tourner’s Night of the Demon).