Dagon (2001) Review

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Fried Fish with a dollop of H.P. Sauce

Dagon (2001): 9 out of 10: Paul and Barbara (Ezra Godden and Raquel Meroño) and another couple are stranded in a small Spanish fishing village where the locals just aren’t right. Paul falls for a mermaid priestess (Raquel Meroño) who has plans to sacrifice Paul’s girlfriend to the sea god Dagon.

Early on in his novella At the Mountains of Madness H. P. Lovecraft paints the following picture. “On and around that laboratory table were strown (sic) other things, and it did not take long for us to guess that those things were the carefully though oddly and inexpertly dissected parts of one man and one dog”

I bring this quote up because so many who are casually equated with the Lovecraftian genre naturally assume he wouldn’t approve of the sex and violence portrayed in modern film versions of his work. He had to work within the mores of the day as he sought to get his works published in magazines often read by children. Graphic sex and violence were no more acceptable in the popular fiction of the 1920s and ’30s than it was in the movies of the same period. He however often pushed the boundaries of the time and though Victorian by both birth and nature he creatively expanded what was acceptable.

Dagon is a movie filled with nudity and very graphic violence. It is also simply the best Lovecraft adaptation ever. A combination of the title work and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Dagon creates a phenomenal atmosphere and doesn’t let up. The tension is palatable for almost the entire running time till the grand finale (which I’ll admit was a little too much The Lair of the White Worm for my tastes).

The makeup and special effects are wonderful(with the exception one bad blink and you miss it CGI effect). The actors (at least the ones that are intelligible) do a fine job. But it is the incredible foreboding atmosphere that propels the movie along.

Filmed on a low budget they found a remarkably frightening real-life city that didn’t need a lot of dressing up. Add a cast of stranger and stranger “creatures” and you have a winner. If you are unfamiliar with the Lovecraftian canon, this is a great B movie. If you love his books however, this is pure bliss.

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