'H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon: Collector's Series'
(Victor Alcazar, Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Merono, Macarena Gomez, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2001) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)
Overview: H.P. Lovecraft's iconic tale comes to life when the Vestron Video Collector's Series releases the modern retelling of the horror classic 'Dagon' on limited edition Blu-ray on July 24th, 2018 from Lionsgate.
Residents of a fishing village tempted by greed evolve into freakish half-human creatures and must sacrifice outsiders to an ancient, monstrous god of the sea.
Blu-ray Verdict: With the knowledge that the majority of this film was shot with a hand-held camera, it makes watching 2001's 'Dagon' (which is itself based on the story 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth' by H.P. Lovecraft) all the more entertaining to view here in 2018.
For my money, `Dagon' is a very nicely filmed, atmospheric, technically competent production by the guy who gave us `Re-Animator.' It just isn't a very good movie, sadly.
Two couples, Howard and Vicki, and Paul and Barbara, recently stinking rich (from what were never told), celebrate on a boat not far from a Spanish fishing village. When a preternatural storm blows the boat onto the rocks, seriously injuring Vicki, Barbara and Paul go ashore in a rubber raft seeking help.
They find instead a town of very inhospitable people who are slowly metamorphosing into fish, sort of much nastier versions of Kevin Costner's Mariner from 'Waterworld'. Some have webbed hands, some have gills, some don't talk as much as make guttural sounds strangely reminiscent of the sewer creatures from Lucas Arts' `Dark Forces' video game; and one, High Priestess, Uxia, the gorgeous Macarena Gomez, has a human torso with octopus legs (bummer)!
The one thing they all share in common is hatred of outsiders. They like to skin them alive and wear their faces as masks (don't ask, they never really say why). A flashback reveals that they were all once good Catholics who rejected Christianity when their fishing nets started turning up empty in favor of Dagon (rhymes with pagan), a sea-god who gave them fish and lots of gold.
Dagon, as we discover, demands worship and occasional sacrifices, preferably young, nubile, naked women, and Barbara certainly fills the bill. After she is taken to be prepped for sacrifice, we're unfortunately left with Paul, whom Ezra Godden plays with all the finesse of a community theater actor.
With his horn-rimmed glasses and whiny, Woody Allen persona, why would Barbara be attracted to him? His strongest acting techniques are delivering his lines and mugging for the camera. It's too bad more time couldn't have been spent finding a more capable lead. That said, it's mighty obvious that the entire production had a low budget and patching up some the gaping plot holes and contrivances in the story were out of their monetary reach.
That all said though, and playing my journalistic Devil's Advocate hand, the movie does okay with its make-up effects and it even has a couple of CGI shots; which, again, sadly in today's day and age, do manage to stand out from the film like a sore thumb.
But wow, there are just so many classic/memorable scenes in this film that I can't even begin to describe. Sure you have to be a devoted lover of H.P. Lovecraft and his work, but there's so much gore, so many chases and so many fish people that such a non-stop work of theatrical art should still be admired today.
In closing, 'Dagon' is beautifully atmospheric, erotic in many places, grotesque and disturbing (to a certain degree) in most others; so should appeal to a vast majority of horror fans in 2018 (that have grown up on 'Saw' and such.
The largely Spanish cast, notably Francisco Rabal, Raquel Meroño and Macarena Gómez turn in stellar performances with Ezra Godden's performance being every bit as engaging as Jeffrey Combs' in 'Re-Animator'. The music is hauntingly perfect and is, in many ways, a character of its very own.
Buy this newly-released Blu-ray, chock full of wondrous Special Features today, settle down on your sofa with your freshly-made popcorn, and with your friends sitting alongside you, watch and enjoy, my friends.
And, speaking of those aforementioned Special Features, taking a peak into some of the new stand out's, first up I would direct your attention toward 'Gods & Monsters' - A discussion with Director Stuart Gordon, Interviewed by Filmmaker Mick Garris.
Talk about an indepth chit-chat that reveals so much of how things were created, behind-the-scenes gems, and other stuff, this for me was the true highlight of the Special Features. Here, Gordon and Garris talk about Dagon itself: A grotesque humanoid over fifty feet tall, Dagon resembles an enormously oversized Deep One with a fish like face, flapping gills and a scaled, slimy hide; but also the deeply grounded mythology of said same creature.
Now, I've seen this film three times now, but I never once knew, until these Special Features (and this Gods & Monsters one, in particular) that Dagon, along with his consort Mother Hydra and Great Cthulhu himself, is a member of the Deep Ones “holy trinity” - the trio of beings worshiped as gods by that oceanic species.
Maybe that always escaped me down the years, as I was too fixated on the action on screen, but trust me when I say that both Gordon and Garris dish much more wondrous mythology during their chit-chat.
Another new addition here worthy of your time is 'Fish Stories' - An Interview with S.T. Joshi, author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft. American literary critic, novelist, and a leading figure in the study of H. P. Lovecraft and other authors of weird and fantastic fiction, S.T. Joshi, has a tale to tell; and he tells it like the author he is.
His tales spun about certain areas of the Dagon folklore and mythology are mesmerizing to behold and the way he connects the two, well, come the end you don't know what to believe as having been true through the ages! (which is just fine with me).
The other one would be 'Conceptual Art Gallery from Artist Richard Raaphorst, as his labored and intense work on what would become the forefront (and noted backdrop) of this film is simply astounding to view in this day and age. Here we get amazed by watching his conceptual art come to life for film, but for a more updated resume of his work, check out Raaphorst’s 2013 period horror film, 'Frankestein’s Army.' This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon and Screenwriter Denis Paoli
Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon and Star Ezra Godden
NEW! 'Gods & Monsters' - A discussion with Director Stuart Gordon, Interviewed by Filmmaker Mick Garris
NEW! 'Shadows over Imboca' - An Interview with Producer Brian Yuzna
NEW! 'Fish Stories' - An Interview with S.T. Joshi, author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft
NEW! 'Conceptual Art Gallery from Artist Richard Raaphorst
Archival Interviews with Stuart Gordon, Ezra Godden, and other Cast & Crew
'H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon' Vestron Trailer, Exclusive HD