ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The Dunwich Horror (1970)

After the success of the Poe movies, Roger Corman and American International Pictures planned on a series of films inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, announcing The Dunwich Horror in 1963 as a movie to be made in Italy by Mario Bava and set to star Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee. When Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs failed, this movie stalled.

It took several years to make this movie happen — probably Rosemary’s Baby being a success is one reason why occult movies really started to come out in the early 70s — and when it was made, Daniel Haller was hired on to direct.

Haller started as an art director and designed the sets for Corman’s House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum. Seeing as how the first movie he directed, Die, Monster, Die!, was based on Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” he was the right director. You know, other than Mario Bava.

At the Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley) gives a rare copy of Necronomicon to his student Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee, breaking her Universal Pictures contract and making her first “adult” movie, so to speak) to return to the library. She’s followed by Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell), a man who hypnotizes her to sneak a glance at the dreaded grimoire. Unlike everyone else in Arkham, Nancy is kind to the man and gives him a ride, despite him, you know, staring into her soul.

I mean, maybe she should have, because he soon drugs her and convinces her to stay the night inside the horrifying home of his ancestors.

It turns out that within the home, Wilbur’s twin brother from a demon father, is waiting and soon is let loose on the town. Wilbur also lives up to all of the townsfolks’ fears, as he attempts to sacrifice Nancy to the Old Ones as he and Dr. Armitage have a spellcasting battle during a violent thunderstorm.

This was written by Ronald Silkosky, Henry Rosenbaum (Get Crazy) and Curtis Hanson, who in addition to writing Sweet Kill and The Silent Partner would go on to direct 8 Mile and L.A. Confidential. And Evil Town and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, so it wasn’t all Oscar-winning efforts!

I wonder what Lovecraft would think about how psychedelic this movie treated his story.

The Arrow Video blu ray release of The Dunwich Horror looks great. That’s because it has a new 2K restoration by Arrow Films from the original camera negative. There’s also an audio commentary by Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict, creators of the audio drama Arkham County. Other features include The Door into Dunwich, a new conversation between film historian Stephen R. Bissette and horror author Stephen Laws in which they discuss The Dunwich Horror, Lovecraft and their memories of seeing the film on release; After Summer After Winter, a new interview with science fiction and fantasy writer Ruthanna Emrys, author of The Innsmouth Legacy series; The Sound of Cosmic Terror, a new interview with music historian David Huckvale in which he takes a closer look at Les Baxter’s score for The Dunwich Horror; a trailer, an image gallery, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film critics Johnny Mains and Jack Sargeant. You can get it from MVD.

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