Well, well, well, what do we have here? Is it an awesome 60s horror movie, starring Boris Karloff and based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, or some lame, generic attempt at terror? Will it make you piss your pants in fear, or bore you to death with a malformed plot? Let’s get started, and find out.
Die, Monster, Die! is brought to us by the enviably prolific Roger Corman and his American International Pictures, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that Corman had a hand in the production. Unfortunately, he did not. This was the first feature film for director Daniel Haller, who is probably more well known for having designed the opulent sets of Corman’s Poe films. The story is a loose adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft short story “The Colour Out of Space” and does, in fact, star Boris Karloff.
Yeah, that guy!
Mr. Karloff has one of the most memorable and iconic voices in all of cinema. His reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is perhaps the only role that eclipses his portrayal of the monster in the original Frankenstein. But let us not forget that he appeared in over one hundred fifty films and serials. Some of which are fantastically awesome. Hell, even his lisp is cool.
A solid performance by Nick Adams and the usual Karloff awesomeness, with a hint of Frankenstein’s monster, added enjoyment to the film. As did the rich set design and cheesy 60s effects.
There’s a strong sense of “what the hell is going on?” at the start of the film. Nick Adam’s character, Stephen, arrives in the village of his fiance’s family and starts asking everyone for a ride to the family estate. Well, no one will take him and they won’t even tell him why. They won’t even let him rent a bicycle, for God’s sake. Unfortunately, the viewer should become accustomed to the feeling of bewilderment.
Um, what’s going on?
Stephen finally makes it to the estate, meets his would-be in-laws, and shows us how nosy he can be. He spends most of the second act trying to find out what’s going on with the Witley’s, to no avail. He snoops here and there, even returns to the village to ask around, but is met with outright hostility. You’d think that if the villagers don’t want someone dicking around, they’d at least have a valid excuse. Even a lie would help.
Like: “Those people molest goats, damnit!”
We finally make it to the third act, where all will be revealed. The only problem is that we still never find out about the mysterious Corbin Witley, who ruined the family name and brought on the outrage of the villagers. We have to make do with Karloff’s Nahum Witley explaining that all he wants is to restore the family name. Just how he intended to do so using the giant meteorite in the basement is anyone’s guess.
What, exactly, does this thing do?
The meteorite in the basement has deformed everything. Plants, animals, people, you name it and it’s been mutated. But the problem is, there’s no real terror in this. Some of the people go mad, but they are horribly ineffective at killing anyone else and they die of the radiation pretty quickly. Nahum does decide to destroy the meteorite, once it’s too late, and only succeeds in burning down the house.
For a film with good sets and decent acting it turned out to be pretty boring. Not bad, just boring. If you’re a huge fan of Boris Karloff I can recommend it to you, since that was my basis for watching. Otherwise you can find much better examples of actually terrifying films.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every time a villager refuses to answer questions
Take a Drink: for every time you see anything mutated
Drink a Shot: when Boris Karloff becomes a mutated monster