Written and directed by: Richard Griffin
Starring: Jason McCormick, Sarah Nicklin, Michael Reed, Lynn Lowry & Ruth Sullivan
Reviewed by: Brett H.
ďIt's like Disneyland on crack.Ē
Itís a shame I donít read more horror literature; I am a big Poe fan, but other than Bram Stokerís Dracula, Iíve not read any pieces that have gone onto inspire most every scary movie Iíve ever seen. This includes H.P. Lovecraft, who I havenít read a single story from. Blasphemy perhaps, but reading requires a commitment of time I unfortunately donít have and thus Iím going to probably sound a fool at some point during this review of the other part of the Richard Griffin double feature from Camp Motion Pictures. Odds have to be that The Dunwich Horror is one of the only Midnight Movies AIP releases I havenít watched either. With this in mind, I hope Lovecraftís minions will tread calmly and lend me a rag should the egg on my face become too noticeable.
The quaint Rhode Island town of Dunwich has been rattled by a string of murders and missing persons leaving townsfolk out for blood, families ruined and reporters willing to put out for clues on potential leads. Washed ashore and found by a fisherman, Andrew Crawford (Jason McCormick) has been deemed insane and tossed in a funny farm. His past is sketchy and something is amiss when hospital staff neglect to inform his only relative within 200 miles, a brother named Kenneth (Michael Reed) of his ailment. With the help of a red-headed reporter (Ruth Sullivan), Kenneth heads to the town library where he encounters quite the scare only to have his day saved by Upton (Jeff Dylan Graham), the only man who knows whatís going on in Dunwich... and how to stop the impending Horror.
Beyond the Dunwich Horror is a story heavy mash of gothicism, gore and the occult. Clocking in at nearly 105 minutes, director Richard Griffin may have stretched the tale a little further than he should have, making use of a non-linear editing style that both assists in the structure of the story and puts a damper on it. For instance, during one scene involving the exhumation of a corpse possessing the invaluable Necronomicon, the book required to save humanity, we watch the manipulated Andrew getting his hands on the book, then immediately we see Kenneth and Upton do their own search for a book we just learned isnít there. Picky perhaps, but itíd be like finding out the twist of the exhumation scene in The Omen 10 seconds before Gregory Peck did; some effect is lost in this process. Sensibly structured in the ways of old Hammer musings with intentionally slow openings, the last half hour is a blast.
Seeing as every horror auteur under the sun has borrowed from Lovecraft and made films like this stereotypical, classic era fans will know where things are going right off the bat and there isnít a strong twist to set it apart from the rest. Richard Griffin deserves applause, however, due to the complexity of a film such as this in comparison to a cheap slasher or even a witty new take on a tired formula (ala his vampire film included in this DVD set, Pretty Dead Things). This isnít to say the low budget isnít at time obvious, but innovative use of lighting, fog, gothic standard set pieces and pretty/scary nature shots with an actual story, borrowed or not, is a refreshing change of pace. There is at least an actual movie to be found here and although I never dug the characters much, the nods to Driller Killer, directorial traits of Fulci & tunes out of Fabio Frizziís score for The Beyond and an tip of the hat toLeaving Las Vegas were very appropriate.
Camp Motion Pictures presents Beyond the Dunwich Horror in 16 x 9 widescreen with a transfer that shows off Griffinís handful of beautiful shots with clarity and vibrance. Sound is clear and the disc features a commentary track for the film and a couple trailers to boot. As a package, the Pretty Dead Things and Beyond the Dunwich Horror combo is a lot of fun. The double feature presentation eases the threat of being burned for your bucks and indie fans should enjoy both films to some extent. Showing off these movies to your friends who watch Transformers and even merely curent Hollywood horror offerings probably wouldnít get a positive reaction, but if youíre a horror fan reading a review of a Camp DVD, you should know this already. Beyond the Dunwich Horror mixes modern characters and situations with classic style terror to topsy turvy results and is the type of film that makes you want to dust off some AIP and Hammer classics and go back to a simpler time in horror. Rent it!
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