Die, Monster, Die! [1965]

American International Pictures production designer Daniel Haller donned the director's jodhpurs for the studio's second attempt at bringing horror master H.P. Lovecraft to drive-in audiences. The script, adapted from the author's favorite story, "The Colour Out of Space," by science fiction scribe Jerry Sohl (who later adapted another AIP/Lovecraft film, The Curse of the Crimson Altar), moves the location from rural New England to present-day Great Britain, where American Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) is visiting the ancestral home of his fiancée (Suzan Farmer from Dracula, Prince of Darkness). The girl's father (Boris Karloff) demands his departure, warning of a curse by his warlock ancestor. Said curse is actually a radioactive meteor, which mutates not only the local flora and fauna (the "zoo from hell" sequence, where Adams and Farmer encounter monstrous creatures in a greenhouse, is a campy/creepy highlight), but Farmer's mother (Freda Jackson), and eventually Karloff, who becomes a glowing zombie before the house burns in typical AIP fashion. Like the studio's previous effort, Roger Corman's The Haunted Palace, the picture is Lovecraft-lite, toning down the story's sense of unearthly horror in favor of standard-issue spook-show shenanigans. But Karloff's presence, though infirm, lends to the adequately chilly atmosphere, as does Haller's eye for dark-and-dreary art direction. Haller later directed another uneven Lovecraft film, The Dunwich Horror. MGM's full-screen VHS (and widescreen DVD) print has aged gracefully, with only minor surface damage. --Paul Gaita

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