Friday, October 11, 2013

BEHIND THE COUCH considers the 1970 version of THE DUNWICH HORROR


While Haller’s take on the story sticks closely enough to the basic plot, it differs with the inclusion of Sandra Dee as Wilbur’s love interest, Nancy. There are actually very few female characters in Lovecraft’s work, let alone female characters who act as love interests for the male protagonists – Lovecraft’s leading men were austere and scholarly and had no time for such dalliances. As mentioned, the basic elements remain intact, such as the revelation that both Wilbur and his brother (the titular Horror) had been born from a ritualistic encounter between their mother and something not quite human, and Wilbur’s attempts to gain The Necronomicon and use it in a ritual to summon the Old Ones, only to be stopped by scholars from Miskatonic University. At times the film possesses a Corman-esque quality (not surprising, he produced it), particularly in the interiors of the Whateley house and the matte painting of the cliff top temple, which bears a resemblance to imagery glimpsed in a few of Corman’s Poe films. The inclusion of the idea of whippoorwills as soul collectors, their chirping coinciding with souls departing from mortal bodies, seems thrown in for the hell of it, whereas in Lovecraft’s story, the presence of these birds was a reminder of the weird atmosphere abounding throughout the lands around the Whateley house...

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