"All that I see... is horror."
Die, Monster, Die! (1965) is a low-budget horror film directed by Daniel Haller, produced by Roger Corman, and very loosely based on the short story The Colour Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft. Haller was a protege of Roger Corman and actually built and designed all the beautiful sets from the Corman-Poe films. For reasons that are beyond me, someone decided that Haller was capable of directing (I'm looking at you Corman) and this is his first feeble attempt. The film is in fact in the style of the Corman-Poe films, but obviously he didn't learn much from Corman, because this guy makes Roger Corman look like Alfred Hitchcock.
This film follows "American" Stephen Reinhart as he visiting his fiancee and meeting her family for the first time. However somethings very strange about this family, and no one seems to want to talk about it. But good 'o Stephen is going to investigate.
Surprisingly the mystery aspect of the film is not half bad that is if we cared about the characters we were following or it actually paid off in the end even remotely, fix those "minor" problems and the mystery would probably be worth it.
Boris Karloff isn't inherently bad in this role, but there's really not a lot for him to work with and clearly time hasn't been good to him. He does surprisingly well for 78 but damn, this surely one of his most forgettable performances in his long career.
All of these characters just aren't interesting. This is especially noticeable in the main character, Stephen. After 80 minutes with this guy I have no love for him and know pretty much nothing about him. The poor actor didn't get the memo that he was in a horror film either and plays the whole role like he's a film noir detective, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Why is this England? None of your actors are obviously British. So why transplant Lovecraft's Arkham to England? Is there something about this story that woudn't work in America that I'm missing? Better yet, why pick this story? This is the second film EVER made based on an H.P. Lovecraft tale. You have his whole library of work to pick from and you choose this story which isn't an easy adaptation, and then use the most basic elements from the story and pretty much make up the rest.
There's a point where this story just gives up on the mystery and just de-evolves into a 1970 radiation scare film? (Talk about dating the film!) Is that why you chose this story because you thought it would be edgy and relevant? I bet they thought: "Yup, this is definitely going to be some profound art 30 years from now."
I think the biggest sin of this film is that it just isn't interesting at all. It's actually quite possible that the title is more exciting than any single point in this film.
And the cherry on top of the whole mess? There is a surprising number of really bad jump scares in this film! There was a couple minutes where I really thought I was watching a modern horror film. Way to be modern and a head of your time in the worse way possible!
Big surprise, can't find anything magnificent about this one. Except maybe that someone tried to ape Roger Corman's style and ended up failing horribly. That alone is kind of amazing when you think about it. You know it's bad when it's not even laughably bad, just miserably bad.
My H.P. Lovecraft streak continues tomorrow on The 31 Nights of Macabre Movies with The Dunwich Horror (1970), unfortunately by the same director as this stinker, but don't let that scare you away fortunately tomorrow's is quite a bit better!
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