|Copyright 2001 Fantastic Factory
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 28 Feb 2011
- Paul Marsh - His Swiss Army knife is handy, but there are quite a few times that a Mission MPT would be more useful. Of course, this being a Lovecraftian story, there are quite a few times when a flamethrower would be more useful.
- Barbara - Paul's Spanish girlfriend. She ends up armless, pregnant, and dead, though not necessarily in that order.
- Ezequiel - Omniscient wino. Should I ever find myself in a strange town, running away from a mob of murderous villagers, I am going to look for a homeless drunk or a pommel horse. If I can find either of those two things, I know that I'll be OK.
- Vicki - She commits seppuku after being raped by a Great Old One, which explains a lot about Japan's fascination with samurai and tentacle hentai.
- Howard - Vicki's husband. He dies. Somehow.
- The Priest & Citizens of Imboca - Freaks whose deformities cause them to lurch and flounder when on land.
- Uxia - Squids need love, too.
- Father Dagon - I bet that he gets a lot of court orders for DNA tests, but he ignores them because "it's a religion."
|Paul Marsh is a young man with a bright future. He is a whiz kid who has struck it rich with a new company, and it appears that the sky is the limit. As a reward for all of his hard work, he gets to take a trip to enjoy some rest and relaxation with Howard, Vicki, and Barbara. Despite being aboard a private sailboat somewhere near the Spanish coast, Paul does not find the vacation relaxing. He keeps having disturbing dreams about swimming into a cyclopean tunnel deep under the waves and there encountering a friendly mermaid. The mermaid starts doing to Paul what mermaids do to men in their dreams according to movies (I've never had an erotic dream about a mermaid myself), but it ends abruptly when the fish maiden grows jagged teeth.
If porn producers made a film about a man-eating mermaid, what do you think it would be called? "Deep Blew Sea?" "Molly Brown Goin' Down?" "Das Booty?" "The Master Baiter Goes Whalin'?" "The Breast from 20,000 Fathoms?" "Debbie Does Atlantis?"
I feel no slight amount of trepidation about how Google will index this review.
The idyllic day at sea turns into a real nightmare when foul weather suddenly rolls in. The boat is dashed against rocks and begins taking on water. Even worse, Vicki is trapped below decks by the crushed hull. Since the sailboat is near a fishing village called Imboca, Paul and Barbara take the small inflatable to get help from the locals. Meanwhile, aboard the flooded sailboat, Vicki starts screaming that something is under the water. Howard grabs a pistol, but things go from bad to worse from there.
Reaching town, Paul and Barbara have to split up. He jumps aboard a small fishing boat with two men who agree to help rescue Vicki and Howard, while she goes with a freaky-looking priest who offers to help her call the police. Neither of the protagonists has a good time. Paul returns to the sailboat, only to discover that it is empty. Barbara tries to use a telephone at the village hotel to call for help, but the clerk and priest strangle her unconscious.
Personally, I'd have taken one look at the locals and decided they were either inbreds, fish mutants, or both (inbred fish mutants). In addition to being spooky in the conversation department, the people of Imboca have pale, clammy-looking skin, bizarre webbing between their fingers, and they never blink. Weirdo freakos, man. Them not blinking is a rather nice touch, even if it looks like the effect was accomplished by the actors wearing uncomfortable contact inserts. The villagers also tend to wander around with rusty knives and farming implements. The only place I have ever been that is scarier than Imboca is West Virginia.
Ah, West Virginia, where the people outnumber the teeth.
When he returns to the dock, Paul goes looking for Barbara. He is told that she went to the next town to find the police, and that he is welcome to stay at the hotel until she returns. Paul takes the priest up on the offer, and quickly regrets doing so. It's not a one star hotel. It's not even a zero star hotel. It's a "Are all of the windows broken? When did they clean that toilet last? What died in this bed?" hotel.
Before long, Paul hears frightening sounds outside of his door. When he attempts to lock it, he sees that the lock has been removed. Scrambling to come up with some way of barring the door, he uses his Swiss Army knife to remove the bolt from the bathroom door, then screw it into the frame of the outer door. That holds for all of thirty seconds before a mob of villagers breaks it open anyway. To get away, Paul has to jump out of a third floor window.
Now we begin the real meat of the movie, which is Paul running away from a horde of inbred fish mutants who want to skin him alive. This section of the film goes on for at least twenty minutes. A saving grace is that the chase is broken up into sections, like Paul meeting Ezequiel and learning a how Imboca went from sleepy Spanish fishing hamlet to a village of the briny damned. The demented old alcoholic was just a boy when the fishing industry collapsed. A man promised the people prosperity if they worshipped an ancient power from the ocean depths. Soon after, people stopped attending the Catholic service and started participating in dark rites and human sacrifices. There were more fish, less people, and everybody not offered as a sacrifice to Dagon was quite happy with the change of fortunes.
Parts of Paul's misadventures in Imboca are horrifying. He discovers that some of the villagers are more fish than human. He also finds Uxia, the mermaid from his nightmares. Well, his nightmares were not quite accurate. Uxia is not a mermaid. She does not have legs, but nor does she have flippers. What she has down there is tentacles. Even though he is mysteriously drawn to Uxia, the tentacles make Paul freak out. He flees from her before the seductive mollusk can wrap her legs around him.
Probably the most gruesome scene happens after Paul and Ezequiel are captured by the villagers. Chained and unable to move, Paul has to watch while the priest and two other children of Father Dagon skin the old man alive. It looks excruciatingly painful. Paul is about to find out just how painful it is to have your skin removed by a fisher of men when Uxia intervenes. She is a princess of Dagon, and claims Paul for her consort. He is to be kept alive, while Barbara (who turned up, along with Vicki - though Vicki doesn't stay long) is going to become Dagon's newest sacrifice. Uxia goes off to cut the heart out of her romantic rival while the priest releases Paul from his bonds.
Our much-abused protagonist doesn't want a squid girlfriend (he is not buying the old line that it's better down where it's wetter). He guts his captors before rushing to save Barbara from becoming Cthulhu kibble. Under the old Catholic church is a secret room with a giant water-filled pit in the center. Poor Barbara is hanging from a chain that lowers her into to the pit. Despite his best efforts to stop the sacrifice with a can of kerosene and a lighter, Paul fails to save his girlfriend from the tentacled horror dwelling below the old church. Actually, Paul does save some of Barbara from Father Dagon, but girlfriends are an all or nothing sort of thing. Having a girlfriend part of the time is not a lot of fun. Nor is it much fun, as Paul finds out, having part of a girlfriend.
Once Barbara is gone and the burning villagers flicker out, Paul is left to face what is left of his life. He is Uxia's half-brother, and destined to become a mutant fish monster himself. This is all revealed by the surprise appearance of Paul's father. No it's not Dagon. Paul and Uxia have the same daddy - the leader of Dagon's cult in Imboca. Remember the scene near the end of "The Empire Strikes Back" when Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father? Well, this is the same sort of scene, except that it's Walrus Man telling Paul that he is his father. Uxia says that she loves him, and that they will live together forever in the sea, making lots of little inbred mutant fish babies.
Paul responds by dousing himself with kerosene.
"Dagon" is an enjoyable film foray into H.P. Lovecraft's domain. However, it is mostly based on another of Lovecraft's short stories, being about 65% "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," 5% "Dagon," and 30% miscellaneous ideas. The film's atmosphere was spot on, as were most of the scenes that focused on horror rather than action. The action parts were usually the low points, such as Paul discovering a tentacled monster man that tries to drown him in a toilet. However, my only major complaint is that I wanted the scene in the hotel played off exactly like it had been in the story. It was okay (the hotel siege), but you could take the action exactly as it transpired in the story and drop it right into a movie and it would have worked quite well, which is not something you can say very often about book to movie adaptations.
Something I noticed while watching "Dagon" (2001) is how "Resident Evil 4" (2005) may have borrowed a number of ideas from the film. The dark and dismal atmosphere is certainly similar, as is Paul and Leon spending much of their time being chased by crowds of villagers who spout guttural phrases in Spanish. Then there is the fact that the Las Plagas creatures would fit perfectly into any modern adaptation of Lovecraft's universe.
The B-Masters take on the Great Old Ones! Click on the banner for more reviews.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Always maintain up-to-date backups of important files somewhere that your girlfriend doesn't have access to, in something that is too heavy for her to lift.
- Every emergency kit should contain a hacksaw.
- A decrepit fishing boat is no place for the clumsy.
- In a Catholic fishing village Friday is no different from any other day.
- Any woman whose name contains more vowels than consonants is likely to be trouble.
- Fish got nards.
- Any woman who has more than four appendages is definitely going to be trouble.
- Cajuns do what they do to catfish because they don't believe in karma.
- 16 mins - Did you major in foreshadowing?
- 26 mins - I think that you found the hotel.
- 35 mins - Jumping out of a window that high is going to hurt!
- 36 mins - He's OK! The jagged mass of metal and glass broke his fall.
- 72 mins - Try offering him stock options in a tech bubble company.
- 81 mins - Was this all here when it was a Catholic church?
- 81 mins - I am a bit foggy on Catholicism.
- 82 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Paul: "All right. You stay." |
Barbara: "No, no. You hate boats. I'll go."
Paul: "No! I'll be fine. It's just, ah, I'm not sure I want to leave you with this guy, 'cause he gives me the creeps."
||Ezequiel telling the story of how Imboca became the inbred fish mutant capital of the world.
||Priest: "You will die here, in Imboca! We will live for eternity in the sea. This is the way of Dagon." |
Paul: "Look, I can write you a check now for a million dollars. Ten million dollars if you let us go, and the woman!"
||Uxia: "Dagon needs her." |
Paul: "F**k Dagon!"
Uxia: "Yes, and their child will be immortal."
Paul: "Yeah, but there's a catch. It has to live the rest of its life as some kind of half-a**ed fish in the sea!"
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Paul picks the wrong house to hide in.
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