Dagon (2001)

A small boat wrecks off the coast of the Spanish village of Imboca, and the two young survivors are separated almost as soon as they get ashore. We follow Paul (Ezra Godden) as he discovers why Imboca is not in the tourism books.

This movie is almost unique in that it's a fairly faithful adaptation of a story by H. P. Lovecraft, though not his story "Dagon." The titular story only contributes a couple of ideas, while most of the plot is based on the "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." Whatever the textual accuracy, Dagon does a good job of capturing the atmosphere of Lovecraft, with oppressive rain and crumbling buildings, not to mention a degenerate populace that gets way too into their fishing.

But unlike Lovecraft, there is a small serving of overt sexuality and quite a bit of gruesome onscreen violence, though not as much as certain previous Lovecraft adaptations by the director of Dagon, Stuart Gordon. The special effects are good throughout despite the low budget nature of the film, and a certain Great Old One even makes a cameo appearance at the end.

The movie looks terrific; probably better than it would in a theater. Some scenes look quite grainy, but that's mostly because the movie was shot with handheld camera in the rain. The sound is fine.

For a movie that couldn't secure a theatrical release Lion's Gate has included a surprising number of extras. Best of all are two audio commentaries, the first with Stuart Gordon and writer Dennis Paoli, the second with Gordon and star Ezra Godden. Both are informative, fun and give leave you appreciating the movie more than before you heard them. Paoli is obviously more interested in talking about how the story developed, while Godden likes to talk about how they came up with explanations for things that weren't adequately explained in the script. Too bad nobody bothers to explain why Paul constantly runs from danger by entering inhabited buildings.

There are three storyboard sequences included. Two of them are largely inconsequential, but the one included for opening dream sequence is much more elaborate than what we see in the movie. There are also 46 pages of concept art, mostly mutilated fish people and monsters, but a couple of very creepy photographic combinations of human fetuses merged with sea life like jellyfish. Finally, there's the trailer to the film.

Scott Hamilton, 8/27/2002