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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 29, 2006
Two couples are out on yachting. They hear some sort of singing or chanting from the local village of Imboca. A freak storm appears and tosses the yacht on the rocks. One girl gets her leg caught between the yacht and a hard place. So the other couple Paul (Ezra Godden) and Bárbara (Raquel Merono) brakes out the "Rubber" raft and go for help. Naturally the raft gets a hole in it so we just can not wait for something in the water to eat them raft and all. Mean while back at the boat blood is spewing out into the water. I assumed they were the desert.

The village turns out to be occupied by boringly slow and somewhat in-human Dagonites.

What will they do?

It is not as if the mechanics are not there, but this movie has no soul. Everything is formula with the standard formula twists and a good dose of "Stay in the car" scenes. There is sufficient blood and slime to go around and the only thing missing is the flame thrower; however they come close.

However Macarena Gómez who plays Uxía Cambarro is a cutie and makes you forget you are watching a movie about three day old fish.

If you are looking for tentacles in the water you may as well watch "Tentacles" (1977).

Empire of the Ants/Tentacles
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HALL OF FAMEon May 26, 2004
"Dagon" is not as bad as you think that it is for most of the first two-thirds of the movie, but you do not really know that until you get near the end of the film at which point you have an opportunity to rethink the problematic elements that were threatening to overwhelm it up to that point. Otherwise you are constantly wondering why Paul (Ezra Godden) is still alive because this guy outlives a couple of cats in this movie.
This 2001 horror film is based on a pair of H.P. Lovecraft stories, "Dagon," an extremely short little story that was one of the first pieces the author got published, and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." Lovecraft was my favorite horror writer when I was a teenager and I have been always disappointed with what happens to his work on the silver screen or on Rod Serling's "Night Gallery," which did a couple of his short stories including "Pickman's Model" (if I had my druthers I would make "At the Mountains of Madness" into a movie).
The story begins with a quartet of Americans in a sailboat off the coast of Spain, approaching a old fishing town, when a storm suddenly and strangely appears, driving their boat onto the rocks. One of them is hurt, so Paul and his girlfriend Barbara (Raquel Meroño) head for shore in the dinghy to get help. However, the town seems almost deserted and the people they encounter are, to say the least strange. The next thing we know Paul is on his own and starting to get in way, way over his head in terms of being in trouble, especially since some of the things in the weird dream he had are starting to show up in the real world.
There are several things working to the advantage of director Stuart Gordon's film. First, a lot of the people in this town speak Spanish (and another language) and there is no attempt to translate any of what they are saying. If, like Paul, you know very little about the Spanish language (or the other language) then you are can identify with the character's sense of isolation because he does not understand what is being said to him either. Second, if you are looking for scenes in horror movies that have you squirming in your seats if not averting your eyes from what you are seeing, then "Dagon" is one of those films. You see, the natives have a peculiar use for hapless visitors that come to their town. Third, they found Macarena Gómez to play the mysterious women from Paul's dreams. I looked at this unknown actress with her wide eyes and all I could think of was that this was the reincarnation of Barbara Steele, except the star of "La Maschera del demonio" (a.k.a. "Black Sunday") is still among the living. Suffice it to say that Gómez provides an interesting blend of exotic beauty and psychotic horror.
Working against "Dagon" is the fact that Paul pushes his luck repeatedly through most of this film and even if he is wearing glasses and is the weaker person in his relationship with Barbara he keeps surviving situation after situation in which mere mortals should end up being dead. Also, the makeup and special effects for the monsters (it is a Lovecraft story; there are monsters; he usually avoids describing the monsters as anything other than monsters too terrible to describe but in a film you get to actually see them) are pretty much on the B-movie level, which I suppose is what Gordon is really going for here. Then there is the fact that female nudity, which is so earnestly avoided at all of the early opportunities in the film, suddenly becomes abundant in the last act. Also, for most of the movie the music is really two slow (and the roll of the final quotes is even slower).
The scale tips in favor of this film because it is arguably the most faithful adaptation of Lovecraft to date and because it has a scene that really gave me the wiggins. Obviously "Dagon" is not really faithful to the two stories on which it is based, but my point is that Dennis Paoli's screenplay honors Lovecraft's body of work in terms of the Deep Ones and the entire Cthulhu Mythos, which is more important than tossing in references to the "Necronomicon" or Miskatonic University. Plus Gordon films a lot of the big action scenes in the rail, which usually works well even when you are not making a horror film. But the most important things here is that fans of Lovecraft's works will not feel he was abused by this film, which forgives a great many faults all things being considered.
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on June 12, 2004
Those of you who love the man will universally agree that there just isn't enough H.P. Lovecraft in the world, especially in cinema. Most of the movie versions made, that have been in some way remotely influenced by a short story or novella, have been less than inspiring. Noteworthies include Unnamable I and II, The Dunwhich Horror (with Dean Stockwell), Horror Hotel (with the great Christopher Lee) and of course the Reanimator series. Dagon falls closer to noteworthy, but misses the mark. I guess the thing about Lovecraft is that he was a very dry, but verbose writer; his stories had slow build-ups that tended to end in horrific, often-mind blowing climaxes--hence the problem of translating his ideas to the big screen, as few people have the patience to watch a scary movie that slowly builds to an intellectually and sensually gratifying climax. So, producer Yuzna and director Gordon have sacrificed much of the exposition moved "The Shadow Over Innsbrook", the story much of this movie hails from, and have turned Dagon into a cat and mouse game of chase for most of the movie to keep the tension and suspense going. The idea of the Old Ones, so central to the Lovecraft mythology, is barely mentioned and thrown in too quickly at the end of the film to really appeciate the horrific consequences of selling out to a race of beings older than anything on the planet. Ezra Godden does a decent job as the lead, Paul, a stockbroker caught with three other friends in a mysterious storm and forced to seek help in a nearby Spanish town. The residents are quite creepy, and the dream sequences are woven into the storyline very appropriately. There is also a flashback scene which is one of the best parts of the film. Overall, Dagon will satisfy the horror buff in anyone who loves this genre, but whether this movie leaves you pondering and thinking about it five minutes after you put the DVD back in its case is a different matter.
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on November 8, 2003
This is easily one of the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptions. Surprise, surprise! What's the surprise?! Stuart Gordon has directed all the best 3 of them: Re-animator, From Beyond and now Dagon. The opening sequence on a boat is reminiscent of the short story Dagon which it is based. It may in fact be 100% accurate. Then it goes further, which all good Lovecraft adaptions do. The stories are so short 90% of the time that they do throw in all or most of it, but they jazz it up with gore and nudity and other stuff to make it a feature film. Here what they did is use the short story as the opening scene, and then developed a grandiose plot with special effects that is about a race of fish-men and women who worship a terrifying sea monster known as Dagon. As with any good Lovecraft adaption, the lead is a Miskatonic Univeristy student. He is on a boat with friends and problems arise where he and only 1 of the 3 others make it to shore. There they are purued by the fish-men, which leads to a really cool scene and set piece which involves a church devoted to the worship of Dagon. It called "Esotic Order De Dagon." They meet up with a drunken bum, who tells of his childhood dealings with the creatures. He ends up getting his face torn off by the creatures. It took me quite a few viewings to truly appreciate this masterpiece. When I did I sat down and had a few beers to the point of mild intoxication. My only would-be criticism is this is a sort of Lovecraft retread- nudity, gore galore, a hideous monster, Miskatonic University students, Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna. However, these are what makes the Lovecraft adaptions so good. A by-the-numbers classic that is getting a growing reputation as a good horror film, and one of the best Lovecraft adaptions of all time. I would also like to recommend Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak on DVD.
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on March 16, 2004
First off, I should note this is not an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "Dagon." That story basically went like this:
"Once upon a time I went to an island where I saw a monster. The End."
This is a film version of "A Shadow Over Innsmouth." In the original story an adventurous journalist goes to a small New England port town to find out why the locals are so secretive. He found out a long time ago the people gave up their souls and melded with fish folk to have food and wealth. Finding the bus out of town is broken, he's forced to stay the night. Realizing he knows their secret, the locals try to break into his room but he manages to escape out a window, and avoids the horrible, gorilla-like fish people lurking through town after him. Eventually he makes it back to civilization only to discover that he himself is a fish-person.
This film version is halfway decent in the first act. A dorky nerd and his hot latina wife are on a boat with another couple until they run into a storm. The nerd and wife head to a nearby port town where they get a priest to help them organize a small rescue. The nerd leaves with the girl still in town...where she is immediately attacked and imprisoned.
He comes back and goes to a hotel where he stays the night, only to find the entire town trying to break into it! He escapes and finds an old man who tells him the whole background to the town. This part, I have to admit, was well done, and like I said I liked the movie up to this point. But things turn sour in the second act.
We're introduced to the "fish people." And they look ridiculous! This movie stops being Lovecraft and starts being H.G. Wells - watching large groups of people who look half-shark, half-squid, and half-crab nearly made me fall off my bed laughing. Since when did H.P. Lovecraft write "The Island of Doctor Moreau"? In the original story the people were very human-like, but still beasts. The second act also adds in a load of violence I didn't think they really needed. It also jumped around in one scene that left me confused (Wait, he was getting beat up, how'd he end up across town...?).
The third act includes Lovecraft's twist ending, which I liked, but I don't know if I like how they handled it. A Cthluthu clone comes out and basically gives the old, "Luke, I am your father" shtick. Then our hero dives into the ocean with his sister/lover (don't ask) and we get a quote from the last paragraph of "A Shadow Over Innsmouth" (for what it's worth, I thought that was a nice touch as well).
I'd have to say the only thing that really struck me was that the sister/lover of the hero was downright beautiful, what with her pale skin and doe-like eyes. I wouldn't mind spending an eternity with her, but then again it'd involve being in this movie so its a double-edged sword. This movie gets points for some of its narration, but its style and overdramatic make-up effects (which was pretty bad, you could tell the fish-people were wearing masks) wears down on you after a while.
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on January 10, 2004
Starting out on a sailing yacht with another couple, on a beautiful day, skinny and whiney Paul (Ezra Godden) and his sexy girlfriend Barbara (Raquel Merono) are relaxing belowdecks while the boat is anchored off a quaint Spanish Village.

Foul weather blows in *very* suddenly in a gorgeously filmed scene, huge dark clouds rising up over the little seaside town. The sailboat is pushed into the rocks where Vicki is pinned belowdecks.

Paul and Barbara must take the dingy to shore to seek help. The town filmed here is very cool; narrow, climbing streets and alleys between tall villas and not a soul to be seen anywhere. Until they find the church, but this is no ordinary church. The symbols inside are unrecognizable, and the priest behaves quite strangely. Fortunately, Barbara speaks Spanish and convinces the priest to help. Paul goes back to sailboat where there is no sign of their friends, and Barbara goes to local hotel to wait, where she is promptly abducted by the hotel clerk and the priest.
Paul checks into the filthy hotel, and things start to get weird when the townsfolk come out to play; and here is where the fun begins.
Eerily determined, they stagger and creep through the streets in search of Paul. Paul runs into an old man named Eziquiel (Francisco Rabal), who tells him a strange tale of the beginnings of the odd little church, and of course Paul believes he is mad.
With Eziquiel's help, Paul searches for Barbara, running into all kinds of trouble. I don't want to give away any of the juicier, more tingly parts of the movie, but suffice to say that my hunger for monsters, grotesqueries, blood, creepiness, and action was sated.
One fine face peeling scene is quite noteworthy and worth the movie in and of itself.
He finds the beautiful woman that he had been seeing in his dreams, Uxia; who embraces him and teaches him the mysteries of Cthullu, whether he wants to hear them or not.
Most of this movie was filmed around Barcelona, Spain, and has some very beautiful scenery shots, along with gorgeous old castle-type buildings and villas...plus some creepy filthy places that remind me of my first apartment.
This is truly a great horror flick, with wonderful monsters and lots of blood, a creepy atmosphere and an ending you won't want to miss. I recommend viewing this tasty, blood coated treat as I did, with your cuddly stuffed Cthullu and Shoggoth, along with Harm the Bunny, at your side. Enjoy!
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on May 7, 2003
I wasn't sure of what to expect when I got this movie, and I was pleasantly surprised. Keep in mind that is is no Re-Animator or From Beyond, but I think it is still a pretty good piece of work. The story starts of with a pair of couples on a yacht who get caught in a storm off the coast of a small fishing village in Spain and thier boat is damaged. One couple gets stuck on the sinking boat while the other couple try to make it to shore to get help. The couple going for help find the town almost completely deserted and desperately try to get assistance for their stranded shipmates. Slowly the revelation is made that there is an aura of evil over the town, and the townspeople have a sinister secret. I think the director did a very god job in creating an air of creepiness through the movie, and the actors seemed to hold up their end pretty well. Not as gory or graphic as Re-Animator or From Beyond, but enough to keep fans satisfied. There is one scene where someone gets their face removed that was pretty graphic, so I wouldn't recommend this for mainstream audiences. I don't want to give too much away, let the movie reveal itself on it's own, but if you're familiar with H.P. Lovecraft and his work you can probably guess what's happening. And I agree with a previous reviewer in that the woman playing the priestess was completely and utterly freakishly haunting! This is a horror movie, but I enjoyed the comedic elements injected throughout the movie, as in Re-Animator or Evil Dead. One thing that did annoy me a little about this movie was that the main male character tended to spout a particular phrase about evey 15 minutes. I am still waiting for From Beyond to come out on DVD, but until then, this was a nice diversion and an interesting trip into the Cthulhu mythos.
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on July 15, 2002
What do you get when you mesh unblinking eyes, priests with webbed fingers and innkeepers with gilled throats, fishermen with a strange affinity for covering their faces, plenty of gold from the depths of the sea to go with the atypical "bounty from the deep," a few faces getting peeled off to teach someone a lesson, a bit of octopi legging to replace those pesky bipedal ones, and one ancient tentacled God? No, it isn't your local barnyard sock-hop taking place at some yokel fairground, its Stuart Gordon's latest creation, the Lovecraft inspired Dagon!

Unlike many of Gordon's earlier, more goofy approaches to the horrific, this Shadows Over Innsmouth/Dagon recount wore a dark overcoat that shrouded almost all of the production. The tale begins with Paul (Ezra Godden) and his girlfriend Barbara, accompanied by two friends, as they toast the success of their new company off the coast of Spain. Paul finds himself plagued by dreams of the foulest sort, ones dealing with an underwater monument bearing a strange insignia and a half-fish/half-humanoid woman, the type that end with him awakening (once again) in a pool of sweat and screams. Soon after our introduction, a storm, if you can call the suddenly conceived, quickly overwhelming beast darkening the sky and tossing their boat around like a bath toy "a storm," impales their boat upon a black reef that any Lovecraft fan will well appreciate. This, in turn, injures one of the boat's occupants and forces them to seek help in a decrepit fishing town called Imboca. As they approach the town in their cheaply construed rubber lifeboat their woes begin, with the sound of gunfire coming from the ship and something brushing against their raft and knocking a hole in it. Is this sign of something to come? Well, in a world where the beasts run rampant in the water, you bet it is. The two quickly find themselves in a town that first seems deserted, a place where the churches read "Esoterica Orde De Dagon" and the occupants, once they are finally found, seem to grow odder and odder by the minute. All these things come together and finally lead them toward secrets that no Bostonian before them ever really wanted to learn, the truth behind the worshippers of Dagon.

Touting nice effects in the monster category, some decent acting (Godden reminding me a lot of Jeffrey Combs, a great thing in my book), pieces of comedy to go with the more horrific, Deep One inspired portions of the movie, and some nice looking DVD quality, this is something to pick up and watch a few time. I highly recommend it for those who've always wanted augmentation by making deals with the oddities of underwater worship or for those simply wanting to stroll the beaches of human suffering as casual passerbys. It'll give you more reasons than the mere shark to stay away from the ocean.
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on February 18, 2003
...If you've ever read the story "Dagon" you know it's just a short about a castaway that sails into a morass and sees a nasty green behemoth capering around an oblelisk, just Lovecraft meat and potatoes. This movie is actually based on "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", though it's bottlenecked on an island instead of the coast of New England. I thought this was the best (and only decent) Lovecraft movie since T.D.H. with super hot Sandra Dee. There are major differences, of course, such as the addition of the hero AND his girlfriend. Lovecraft seemed to stay away from the chick factor whenever possible. And there is the fact that a hybrid priestess is involved, and the fact that Dagon's spawn, the Deep Ones, were a roughly bipedal version of fish and frog: In here, they tend towards octopoid traits, which makes you think of the main man Cthulhu. So don't worry, it's still cool.
The hero and his girlfriend get stranded on the island, and the girl is immediately abducted by the freakish Dagon cultists. The hero, Paul (Marsh) is constantly plagued by dreams involving a nice looking little chick who frequently displays tentacles, fins and fangs. He ends up in a moldering, filthy hotel (check out the toilet in that place!), like the classic scene from Shadow Over Innsmouth, waiting for the return of his girlfriend, not knowing that she's been taken. This affords a kind of comical part of the movie, where all the flounder-eyed, webbed and tentacled freaks come to pay him a visit. He ends up escaping, crashing through a window, running through a gauntlet of cultists, until he eventually finds the poor old drunk guy, the only human on the island, that explains to him the advent and degenerate worship of the god Dagon. In the movie, Dagon takes on an uncharacteristic alpha male love-hungry mode, demanding female sacrifices to carry his unholy seed. The result of these sacrifices is a race of hybrid creatures that eventually shed their human vestigies to become blissful, ageless sea monsters.
Marsh eventually finds the flesh and blood girl of his dreams, drawn to her in ways he doesn't understand. She is the local high priestess, no less, a blood descendant of the seafaring captain that originally brought the Dagon theology to the island. When he pulls back the sheet and sees that she's a little more monster than chick, he freaks out and is on the run again. All of the running with the shambling, loping and crawling man-monsters only a breath or two behind him, kind of creepy and yet funny too, really captures the essence of Shadow Over Innsmouth. I didn't get the whole ritual thing with the skinning and tanning of human hides, though. The cultists wear ther skins to their ritual ceremonies; I think maybe they watched Chainsaw Massacre about two or three hundred times too many.
Near the end of the movie, expect a cameo by the big man himself, Dagon, who just needs a little love and understanding. I hope that the effort that went into this movie might mark the future efforts of other attempts. What about At the Mountains of Madness? Shadow out of Time? Or the Call of Cthulhu? Yeah baby. If you like reading Lovecraft, you'll like this movie. if you don't, it might not be your cup of tea.
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on March 2, 2003
This fairly well-done film based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", is obviously not a high-budget film. That being said, it is a great effort to put to film the great writing of Lovecraft. Though both stories, "Dagon" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" are great stories, it is obvious this is based on the later, and has little to do with the former.
The lead character and his girlfriend are enjoying a yacht trip with another couple when they become stranded near a creepy fishing village. The first pair decide to go to the village for help, and are quickly embroiled in the conspiracy of men who are part sea creature. They become more ichythysian as time goes on, and don't want outsiders discovering their secret worship of the god Dagon or their condition. They perform rituals in the praise of Dagon, and wear human skin during these rituals. The merefolk have a sinister purpose and evil designs against the couple as they battle through a "Night of the Living Dead" type scenario against "Creature From the Black Lagoon" type beings.
This film is well done, and a lot of fun (especially fun for people familiar with the Lovecraftian mythos). The plot is familiar to American audiences, with nothing too unusual (aside from Lovecraft's bizarre ideas mixed in). Would Lovecraft have approved? In general, Lovecraft didn't like films, so he probably would have disliked this one with rest. As is the usual, this film does not live up to actually reading the story, and does not live up to the "Dagon" story at all, but it is Lovecraftian in intent and thrust, and fans of Lovecraft and horror films will not be disappointed.
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