There’s really nothing I would consider myself an “expert” on, and included with that, I am certainly no expert on H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve read a few of his stories and have been quite entertained by them, but his style of writing and sense of fear generally doesn’t translate well on film. Granted, Re-Animator was awesome, which was based on his short story, but most other adaptations fall somewhat flat. His style is typically more surreal, and fear is derived from the existence of concepts in the context of his stories, rather than the concepts themselves. Whether you can make sense of that or not, I don’t really care.
You know it’s a movie, because this lady gave that dork a blow job. Only in Hollywood!
Dagon is about a Paul and Barbara, played by Ezra Godden and Raquel Meroño on vacation who get into trouble on their boat and attempt to find refuge on a nearby island. This island appears empty, yet when contact is finally made with its residents, strange things start happening. It appears the residents of this island-town have webbed fingers as well as gills on their necks, and they all typically move strangely. Well, it turns out that all the residents of this town have rejected Christianity and accepted a new lord and savior, Dagon, who is some weird fish monster thing that has helped their fishing community. The only drawback? They are all turning into weird fish creatures. Paul runs and punches things, Barbara gets naked and sacrificed to Dagon, and some of the residents get killed. The film ends with Paul trying to kill himself, only to realize he is somehow related to Dagon and can also breathe underwater, and we see a quote from the short story this film is based on.
Are you willing to look past the tentacles for some nice romantic smooching? Yup, me too!
The plot of this film is actually based on the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth“, rather than his story “Dagon”. The hard part with Lovecraft stories is that even when they are well executed, they are still kind of weird. It’s tough to determine whether it’s weird because they were faithful to the source material, or if it’s weird because they strayed away from the source material at moments. For what this film was, it was pretty well done. I wouldn’t say this movie was scary, but it did have some of that surreal vibe to it. For example, early on you see a character with webbed hands, and in most films, you would expect the character to say, “WHOA DUDE WHAT THE FUCK IS WITH YOUR HANDS”, yet in this film, it is quickly glossed over. I feel that that’s the key with Lovecraft, which is to downplay the strangeness of the universe so it is more easily acceptable before you try to convince the audience how much weirder things can get. I also wouldn’t go ahead and say this movie was all that good, but it was a pretty good adaptation compared to other Lovecraft incarnations. Also reminded me a lot of Lair of the White Worm (review here, which was also based on an early 20th century novel. But why the hell are you listening to me, I already told you I wasn’t some damned expert!
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