THE DUNWICH HORROR
Summer of Lovecraft
RELEASED 9 JANUARY 1970 | 15 | Blu-ray
Director Daniel Haller
Cast Sandra Dee, Dean Stockwell,
Ed Begley, Lloyd Bochner
BLU-RAY DEBUT After success with Edgar Allan Poe movies, American International Pictures decided to give HP Lovecraft a try. This was director Daniel Haller’s second such effort (and AIP’S third).
In the original story, an occultist steals a copy of the Necronomicon to help open a door to the realm of the Old Ones. This very loose adaptation retains basic components and dials up the sauce, adding the sacrifice of a pretty blonde (Sandra Dee); this involves much orgasmic liplicking. It also turns Wilbur Whateley (“exceedingly ugly” on the page) into Dean Stockwell’s softly-spoken seducer, all corduroy, big brown eyes and immaculately trimmed moustache.
Haller has a good eye for compositions with depth – the camera’s forever lurking behind a display case or desktop clutter – and exotica great Les Baxter’s score is pleasingly grandiloquent. Featuring psychedelic colours and dream sequences with orgiastic flower-children, it’s Lovecraft for the hippie generation, an approach that now seems charmingly retro. You may want to light a joss stick.
Extras Lovecraft-lovers Guy Adams and Alexandra Benedict provide amusing commentary; expect much joshing and many ripe enunciations of “my darling”. Novelist Ruthanna Emrys explains changes to the story (16 minutes).
Music historian David Huckvale plays cues on the piano (32 minutes), pointing out diminished fifths and echoes of Bach and Handel. A Zoom chat between film writer Stephen R Bissette and horror author Stephen Laws lasts over two hours. Y’know, sometimes less is more… Plus: trailer; gallery; booklet.
The Arkham College scenes were shot around the University of Southern California’s Mudd Hall of Philosophy.