Hi all! After an accidental six-month hiatus from Shoggoth, I am back to fill you full of tentacly goodness. To mark my return, I present you with my thoughts on Dagon.
I got to see it at a local Seattle screening this last weekend, and despite mixed reviews I was genuinely entertained. This is one of the finest Lovecraftian films I’ve ever seen. (The worst being the so-called Cthulhu Mansion, neither Cthulhu, nor a mansion. Discuss.)
Though it starts off a little clunky, once the action starts I had no end of fun. Based off of a few different sources, it felt a lot like something Lovecraft could have cooked up. The tale is about a young programmer named Paul, who was originally of Spanish origin, but whose mother never spoke of her life in Spain. She even forbade him from learning Spanish. Now, with ooky prophetic dreams to the left of him, and fate propelling to his homeland on his right, he finds himself in a boat accident off the coast of Spain, and ends up trapped in a creepy town populated by barely-human residents.
While obviously originating in Lovecraft, Gordon takes a few of the standbys of HP and plays around with them a little.
The natives of the town bear only superficial resemblance to the Deep Ones of Innsmouth origin. Instead of being a race in their own right, these critters are the result of a small fishing town turning their back on the Catholic Church and worshipping Dagon to get more fish. Over the years, Dagon demanded “sacrifices”. And, by sacrifice, we mean “love slave”, one who would bear half-human children for him to populate the small town of Imboca. The frog-man look is cast aside for one involving odd blends of fish gills and tentacles.
The style and pacing changes a lot during the movie, from moody suspense in one scene; to pell-mell, slap-stick Evil Dead-style pursuit (I swear the protagonist looks more like Ash as the movie goes along); to down-right nauseating splatter punk. This lack of consistent tone bothered some people, but I enjoyed it. It made me uncertain where things would go, and kept me on edge.
Ultimately, if you’re a Lovecraft fan, you should see this. Stuart Gordon has more than redeemed himself for working on such abominations as “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show” and Space Truckers. On the other hand, if you’re a film snob who will leave a movie because the camera angles are not to your liking, well, you should probably pass.
Jeremy Zimmerman is a teller of tales who dislikes cute euphemisms for writing like “teller of tales.” His fiction has most recently appeared in 10Flash Quarterly, Arcane and anthologies from Timid Pirate Publishing. His young adult superhero book, Kensei, is available as part of Cobalt City Rookies. He is also the editor for Mad Scientist Journal. He lives in Seattle with five cats and his lovely wife (and fellow author) Dawn Vogel.