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 ... more »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« less
Robert E. Rodden II | Peoria, IL. United States | 03/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I know some people will groan about this, but I feel this movie has never gotten the credit it deserves. Mostly because there is a tendency to look with prejudice upon it's leading man, Nick Adams, because of the slow-down in his carreer just before his untimely and mysterious death at age 36. My father was a big naysayer of Nick Adams. His prejudice stemmed from Adams' participation in Rebel Without A Cause, a film my father saw as encouragement for youth to openly oppose their parents, without showing the parents' side of the story. However, if you watch Nick Adams at work, and keep an open mind, whether it's in one of his most famous films, like Rebel Without A Cause or Mister Roberts, or in his now legendary television series, The Rebel, you'll see a talented actor who was at ease in front of the camera. In spite of his young features (at times described as baby-faced) Adams had a screen presence that was strong and capable. Over time, my attitude of him has turned from thinking of him as a so-so player, to that of an underrated actor of whom life ended before something better came along. After you've viewed enough B-grade and lesser horror films, you begin to appreciate when a qualified and talented actor is given the lead in one of these films. And in Die Monster Die, Nick Adams was perhaps at his best during that slow-down period of his life. It's certainly one of the better B-grade horror films he was forced to work in at the time. And it's one of the better releases by MGM in its Midnight Movies collection. If you look at the title alone, you're likely to pass on this one, thinking Cheese all the way, but don't let the title stop you. I think this was one of the most original science fiction/horror films to come out of American International pictures. It's based on an H.P. Lovecraft story called The Colour out of Space. It does, of course, take poetic license in order to make a movie-length script, but it keeps enough of the original story in order to feel and taste like H.P. Lovecraft. Boris Karloff alone is worth the movie. His portrayal of a wheel chair bound quasi-scientist obsessed with using a radioactive meteor discovered on his land to make a better world is wonderful gothic material. The film has gothic painted all over it, from the sprawling English country side, to the thunderstorms, to the ancient torture chambers in the basement of Karloff's rambling English manor. These gothic feels combined with the science-fiction theme are exactly what make this movie feel like an H.P. Lovecraft story.The film features a wonderful, if brief performance by Freda Jackson, perhaps remembered best for her cackling performance in The Brides of Dracula, where she hunkered down over a freshly filled grave and coaxed a new vampire victim through the surface of the moist dirt with loving, motherly whispers.This movie also introduced one of the loveliest British starlets of the time to the big screen, one Suzan Farmer, who can also be seen in Dracula, Prince of Darkness. She plays the somewhat confused and uncertain lover of Nick Adams' character. Their scenes together seem to be filled with genuine emotion, giving just the right feeling of two lovers caught up in deadly mystery. And MGM did a wonderful job with this low-cost DVD. This film is presented in Wide Screen, enhanced for Wide Screen Television (which is the same thing as Anamorphic Wide Screen). Whatever print they used for this film was beautiful. The colors are deep and lush, the scenes clear and crisp with very little show of wear over the years. The only extra is the Theatrical Preview, and the scene-selection option. But who cares for anything more! After all, if extras are more important to you than the film, you should save your money and buy film-history books. I for one salute MGM for offering us these affordable gems in a nice quality DVD. If you're a Nick Adams fan, then buy the movie for his strong leading man performance. If you like good quality, B-grade science-fiction horror, I don't think you'll be at disappointed in this movie. And if you're a Boris Karloff fan, it's a must-see. And, if you're a Vincent Price film nut, as I am, you'll be excited to hear that MGM has released two other beautifully rendered DVDs at the same low price staring this legend of the horror cinema; The Abominable Doctor Phibes, and the sequel, Doctor Phibes Rises Again (both under the Midnight Movies titles). Plus! Watch for Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum coming out very soon from MGM."
Underrated sci-fi horror film
William Kersten | Reno, NV United States | 03/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have always liked this film, even though checking through reference books one may find critical comments. It is true that a mistake was made in changing H.P Lovecraft's setting from New England (which of course was the deeply-felt source of all of his horror concepts) to England itself. And the story does not do full justice to his brilliant original, which is a classic of horror-literature. But that aside, the film is extremely atmospheric, and has strong performances by Karloff and all the other actors (including Nick Adams, who despite odd casting does a decent job as a modern American adrift in a strange old-world setting). And on top of that it has one of the eeriest scenes in all horror films, where Nick Adams and the beautiful Susan Farmer sneak into a greenhouse, which is a source of mystery throughout the entire film, and discover a menagerie of mutated monsters, illuminated only by flashlight. This scene is a high-water mark in monster special FX, even though it is very brief. Definitely worth owning in a DVD quality release!"
Typical 60s AIP Brit-Horror
J. L. Probert | 02/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Whether or not you like the style of the films AIP made in the UK in the mid-sixties will determine what you think of this. Nick Adams arrives in the cosy little English village of Arkham and discovers peculiar goings-on up at a big old house where Boris Karloff is creating strange mutated things in his greenhouse with the aid of a glowing green meteorite. Boris's wife is starting to mutate as well and she manages to go on the rampage and get her face melted before the whole thing ends predictably in flames. Daniel Haller's exercise in adapting Lovecraft was presumably filmed around Bray studios as the house used for the exterior shots is none other than Oakley Court, the location used for many a classic British horror film including The Reptile, Vampyres and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
As a piece of filmic Lovecraft the picture doesn't really work. If, however, you want a well-preserved widescreen slice of mid-sixties Brit horror then look no further. MGM's print has a few scratches but the colour photography in the opening scenes of the railway station and the village must look as good as (if not better than) when the film was first released. The special effects are what you would expect from this time period - psychedelic colour filters and rubber puppets twisted into funny shapes to simulate the greenhouse mutations. Good value for money, even if the only extras are a trailer and chapter selections."
Nice DVD edition of uneven Karloff occult thriller
Surfink | Racine, WI | 02/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Roger Corman's long-time art director, Daniel Haller, who later helmed a handful of cult films (Wild Racers, Devil's Angels) and innumerable TV series, got his first directorial shot with this entertaining if ultimately somewhat disappointing mixture of gothic mystery, occult, and science fiction elements. The screenplay by Jerry Sohl unsurprisingly bears only slight resemblance to H. P. Lovecraft's original story, although it's still pretty outre for 1965. (Sohl also penned a few Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Star Trek, and Invaders scripts, not to mention Frankenstein Conquers the World and Curse of the Crimson Altar, the latter also starring Karloff and loosely based on Lovecraft.) The "frightened townfolk" beginning is laughably heavy-handed, although the middle section where we're slowly fed details about the bizarre goings-on at the Witley mansion is actually fairly absorbing. Unfortunately any suspense and air of mystery that's been generated is completely dissipated by the obvious, schlocky "monster on the loose" climax (did anyone really think audiences would be fooled into thinking that stuntman in the plastic mask was Boris?). Twerpy Nick Adams (who apparently fancied himself leading man material and took his inevitable career slide harder than most) exudes little charisma as the hero, although Suzan Farmer (Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Rasputin the Mad Monk) is appealing as Karloff/Witley's daughter Susan. There are a number of other positives: Paul Beeson's cinematography and the Witley mansion sets look great, of course; Freda Jackson (Great Expectations, Brides of Dracula), Karloff, and Patrick Magee (Dementia 13, Clockwork Orange, Asylum, etc.) lend some class to the proceedings; the cosmic stones and eerie mutant plants are effectively realized; there are a few credible shocks; and the brief gore FX are surprisingly over-the-top for a mainstream film of the era. But as much as I would like to love this movie, it really needs a better finish. (Apparently a crowd-pleaser though, Die Monster Die played the drive-in circuit for years, often filling out dusk-till-dawn shock-o-rama bills.) Definitely worth a look for Karloff completists and AIP junkies (like myself) who will watch and usually enjoy virtually anything with their logo on it. Lovecraft cultists and mainstream movie fans expecting an intelligent denouement are bound to be disappointed. Haller adapted Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror for AIP five years later with similarly variable results.
MGM Home Video presents the movie in an unspectacular but quite serviceable package. The trailer is letterboxed to 2.35:1 with overall excellent image quality marred only by some light speckling. Sixteen chapter stops and French and Spanish subtitles are the only other extras. The source print used for the feature is not exactly stunning but still quite a bit above average. The brightness, contrast, detail, and color saturation of the anamorphic widesceen (2.35:1) transfer are excellent throughout. The image is not razor-sharp, but still acceptably crisp (the slight softness of some shots seems to be resident in the source print). Physical damage is limited to some sporadic very light speckling. Overall quite satisfying for the very reasonable price."
Enjoyable, Atmospheric, Midnite Movie!
Surfink | 09/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Enjoyable and atmospheric. Although this is not a great film (which is especially in evidence during the finale, which features effects that border on the goofy by today's standards) it is still an entertaining film and, in my opinion, worth owning. The locations are great - an English town and train station, and a spooky old Mansion - giving this film a moody edge. If you're a fan of B-Movies and a collector of the MGM Midnite Movies Series, you will find this a worthwhile entry. The visual quality of the DVD is very high and the packaging of the DVD is one more reason that this series is worth collecting. Each MGM Midnite Movie features fresh cover art, great back cover descriptions, and look great on the shelf since it is a coordinated collection. I also own Pit and the Pendulum, Fall of the House of Usher, Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, and recommend them all. The other customer and Leonard Maltin REVIEWS will help you navigate and decide which of the MGM Midnite Movies are worth the risk of actually purchasing."