A recent traumafession regarding DOLLS left me filled to the gills with love of all things STUART GORDON, what better way to celebrate than with a double feature of streaming, screaming, crafty LOVECRAFT-ian tales? Grab some tartar sauce the first course is DAGON!
DAGON keeps on swimming upstream through the river GORDON in my head. It seems every time I plunge my noggin into its soggy clammy world, I feel a little more at home there. Based (mostly) on the LOVECRAFT short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” DAGON delivers non-stop nightmare atmosphere but beneath the waves of horror rests a satisfying transformative hero’s tale dunked in GORDON’s devious dark wit. EZRA GODDEN plays Paul Marsh, a bespectacled and twitchy graduate of Miskatonic U., who we gather has difficulty steering a direct course in life. Waking from a prophetic dream he is thrown via shipwreck into a savagely slimy battle for survival in an increasingly surreal dismantled town inhabited by unfriendly fish folk. DAGON may be low budget and there are a couple of missteps into curdling CGI territory, but all in all it creates an impressively distinctive universe of its own.
EZRA is golden and a succinct successor to GORDON affiliate JEFFREY COMBS. There are long stretches of the film with zero dialogue but you can read every single thought on EZRA’s expressive mug. Also on hand is hypnotic BARBARA STEELE clone MACARENA GOMEZ (complete with CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR-style head gear!) who is somehow lovely enough to parlay tentacles into a fashion asset. A blasphemy is brewing inside me; could this, frog-warts and all, be my favorite GORDON film? Hmmm, usually my favorite GORDON film is whichever one I viewed last so I shouldn’t carve anything in stone just yet but on a visual, textural and even inspirational level, I think it just might be. Gory, strange, funny and beautiful in its own grotesquely fantastic way DAGON is quite the catch especially if you have the imagination to blur away its budgetary blemishes.
MASTERS OF HORROR: DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE (2005)
EZRA GODDEN returns this time as Walter Gillman, a heartier Miskatonic student whose journey of the soul goes in the opposite direction as DAGON’s Marsh. You’d think it would be a good thing to discover a portal to another dimension comes free of charge in the room you’ve just rented, but don’t forget doorways to other dimensions go both ways. The last thing anyone needs while trying to study is the distraction of a pesky witch and her human-faced rat familiar, both of whom keep nagging you to kill your neighbor’s infant. DREAMS is one of the stronger entries into the MOH series and much of what comes across initially as amusing or comical is soon convincing as the nonsensical stuff of true madness. Again EZRA excels and is a joy to watch this time channeling just as much BRUCE CAMPBELL as COMBS. Here’s to hoping this guy returns to horror soon. He’s effortlessly entertaining and unafraid to respond the way any true man would when faced with the phantasmagorical…by screaming like a tween struck with Bieber fever. DREAMS is delightfully dismal with its baby in peril storyline but is buoyed, like DAGON, with flashes of winking absurdity too.
If you ever find yourself like I did having a STUART GORDON attack I recommend watching both these gratifying streamers back to back (DREAMS is also available on Hulu)! GORDON and LOVECRAFT are a notoriously exceptional pairing and the inspired troika making addition of GODDEN makes these two dips into the abyss all the better.