the story by
Ezra Godden (Paul)
Francisco Rabal (Ezequiel)
Raquel Meroño (Bárbara)
Macarena Gomez (Uxia)
Brendan Price (Howard)
Birgit Bofarull (Vicki)
Uxía Blanco (Ezequiel's Mother)
Ferrán Lahoz (Priest)
José Lifante (Desk Clerk)
mpaa rating: R
release: July 30, 2002
availability: VHS -
Spanish fish people worship
a big fish god. Ah, that wacky Lovecraft (by way of that wacky
Fangoria calls this "Gordon's
best film since Re-Animator." True?
Not to these eyes. Of the four
Lovecraft-influenced films to emerge from the team of Gordon,
Dennis Paoli, and/or Brian Yuzna -- the instant classic Re-Animator,
the fun but flawed From Beyond, the mainly unpleasant
and dull Castle Freak, and this one -- I'd place Dagon
third, behind From Beyond (which is simply more fun to
watch). Going outside Lovecraft, I'd judge Gordon's 1991 The
Pit and the Pendulum a better film than anything he's done
since his debut.
saying this is a disappointment?
Not really; just that it lacks
the party atmosphere of Gordon's first two Lovecraftian entries.
When Gordon gets around to making horror films these days, he
plays for keeps. The freewheeling Gordon of Re-Animator
is gone, replaced by a director adept at suspense but not as
interested in comedy any more (though Dagon has its bits
of humor, chiefly verbal).
faithful to Lovecraft's story?
Ha. Are Gordon's adaptations
ever? (For comparison, check out Howard Phillip's original, very
short tale, which someone has kindly -- and
illegally -- posted online.) As usual, Gordon and Paoli take
a basic Lovecraft idea or premise and run with it. This never
fails to piss off Lovecraft die-hards, by the way. To which I
say: awww, poor widdle babies; deal with it; it's a movie.
the Dennis Paoli story (as opposed to the Lovecraft story)?
Rich stock analyst Ezra Godden
and his Spanish girlfriend Raquel Meroño (along with two
other vacationers, who aren't around long) are stranded in the
village of Imboca (a Lovecraft nod -- Innsmouth, get it?), where
the locals have their own unique ideas concerning religion and
Yeah, Dagon -- the eponymous
monster worshipped as a god -- is partial to having human females
sacrificed to it so that it can reproduce.
Indeed. The movie, I must say,
is also plenty gruesome -- much more so than I thought would've
been condoned in an R-rated movie. Arms are torn from a body;
a still-living (though not for long) victim has his face peeled
off with the help of fish-boning knives. Perhaps the MPAA figured
this was going straight to video anyway, so who cares how gross
So did you
Yeah. I prefer the anything-goes
Gordon of Re-Animator, but there's nothing wrong with
a well-done, atmospheric, spooky chiller, especially coming from
a director far less frequently heard from than he deserves to
be. Besides, this is probably about as close to Gordon's legendary
unmade Lovecraft project Shadow Over Innsmouth as we're
likely to get. It's a horror movie that doesn't involve knife-wielding
Michael Myers ripoffs stalking ironic, pop-culturally-aware teenagers,
and it spirals down to a surprisingly dark denouement (surprising
these days, when plots with any hint of sending the audience
out bummed have all the originality test-surveyed out of them)
-- I say we horror fans should get behind it.