If master American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft were alive today, he would be absolutely and irrevocably disgusted by the fact that his literary work has been constantly cinematically bastardized, debased, liberalized, and eroticized by countless hack horror directors who used the writer’s name as a way to cash on his posthumous cult celebrity. An Anglophile racialist of the Spenglerian anti-egalitarian sort who was rather repulsed by miscegenation and who brilliantly foretold the abject racial and cultural degeneration of American via his horror stories, Lovecraft would probably vomit at the idea that his short story Herbert West—Re-Animator (1922) gave misbegotten birth to a Hebraically humored film like Re-Animator (1985), which is rather unfortunately easily one of the greatest Lovecraft-themed flicks, where a dismembered head gives head to a gorgeous young blonde lady, but the Weird Tales magazine writer might have been even more disturbed by the film’s lowbrow dark comedic tone. Of course, unless there is some sort of conservative revolution in the cinema world, it is rather doubtful that Lovecraft’s work will ever be properly adapted for the silverscreen. Undoubtedly, out of all the semi-good, the very bad, and the terribly ugly Lovecraft adaptations, I am going to have to assume that The Dunwich Horror (1970)—a work directed by hired hack Daniel Haller (Monster of Terror, Devil’s Angels) and produced by monetary-motivated B-movie mogul Roger Corman—is the most blasphemous Lovecraftian movie ever made. Indeed, H.P. goes psychedelic hippie Crowleyite, The Dunwich Horror is only vaguely based on Lovecraft’s classic 1928 story of the same. Based on a short story that Lovecraft’s Indian-American biographer S. T. Joshi (Lovecraft would have unequivocally suffered another nervous breakdown if he knew that a leftist miscegenating untermensch was the foremost biographer/literary critic of his work) described as being “simply an aesthetic mistake on Lovecraft's part” with a “stock good-versus-evil scenario,” Corman's The Dunwich Horror has a fairly superficial storyline that lacks the Nordau-esque degeneration themes of the original story and is more in the spirit of the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” mentality typical of the thankfully bygone era when it was made. As far as I am concerned, The Dunwich Horror is mostly of interest today (if of any interest at all!) due its sometimes bizarre and transcendental aesthetic qualities. Featuring surreal dream-sequences that seem to be taken straight out of Jack Smith’s unfinished high-camp masterpiece Norma Love (1963), The Dunwich Horror is a curious combo of inept celluloid storytelling and idiosyncratic set pieces, wardrobes, and special effects that ultimately fail to make up for the film’s overall unnerving unevenness. Starring dirty Dean Stockwell (The Boy with Green Hair, Blue Velvet) as a half-caste human-monster and ancestor-worshiping megalomaniac who wishes he was the next Aleister Crowley in a role originally offered to Peter Fonda, as well as Sandra Dee (Gidget, Imitation of Life) as a very vapid woman who just does not know how to tell a man “no”, The Dunwich Horror is the sort of celluloid abortion that occurs when a cinematic carny conman like Corman tries to make a ‘hip and happening’ horror flick for the badly braindead Easy Rider generation.
Advertised by MGM as follows, “Single white warlock seeks beautiful blond babe to join him at the altar…the sacrificial altar!,” The Dunwich Horror at first seems to be the story of a resentful beatnik and would-be-guru suffering from Asperger syndrome. After an occult scene of a woman ostensibly giving birth to something that the viewer assumes to be a misbegotten creature of sorts, the film cuts to the rather sparsely populated setting of Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts where a pedantic professor named Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley) has just given a lecture on the priceless and one-of-a-kind occult tome Necronomicon, which he idiotically entrusts a blonde bimbo student named Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee) to bring back to the library. On her way to the library, Nancy is stalked by a weirdo with a Jew-fro named Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell) who, with his sinister Svengali-like hipster gaze, cons the seemingly half-retarded lady into handing over the Necronomicon, but luckily Dr. Armitage soon puts a stop to this and knows that young man comes from a degenerate family of blasphemous black magicians. Although Armitage warns Nancy about the wackjob Whateleys, the little lady comes under Wilbur’s spell and gives him a ride back to his house in Dunwich after he pretends to miss his ride. Upon arriving in Dunwich, Nancy discovers that the lynch-mob-prone locals hate the Whateleys and that Wilbur’s great-grandfather, who believed “In another race of beings from a different dimension…An earlier race, superior to man. And he believed they could be brought back,” was hanged by the locals under dubious circumstances. Eventually, Nancy also meets Wilbur’s equally peculiar yet more passive grandfather Old Whateley (Sam Jaffe). After her car breaks down and radical redneck guru Wilbur drugs her with a curious Crowley-esque cocktail of sex, drugs, and hypnosis, Nancy becomes trapped in Dunwich by her deranged yet charming new boy toy. Of course, Dr. Armitage and a frigid female student friend arrive in Dunwich and attempt to convince Nancy to leave, but she is too wild and wanton for Wilbur. Upon doing some research, Armitage and his female student learn that Wilbur’s assumed deceased mother, Lavinia (Joanna Moore Jordan), is still alive and resides in a mental institution. Apparently, Lavinia went crazy after giving birth to Wilbur and his purportedly stillborn brother, but the truth proves to be much more darker. When Nancy’s female companion goes to the Whateley house to find her friend, she is killed by a monstrous creature that is apparently Wilbur’s twin brother, who was not born stillborn after all but is the malevolent mongrel progeny of human Lavinia and one of ‘The Old Ones’ from a superior ancient race. Meanwhile, Wilbur gets in a scuffle with Old Whateley that results in the eccentric grandfather’s death and when his grandson boldly attempts to give him a pagan ceremony at his funeral at the local cemetery, the terrified townspeople put a swift end to his beatnik blasphemy. In the end, Wilbur’s retarded beast of a 1/2 breed brother gets loose and wastes a bunch of Dunwich townsfolk and Wilbur attempts to sacrifice Nancy on a pagan altar in tribute to ‘The Old Ones’, but is absurdly struck down and killed by lighting, with his scorched body falling into the sea. Rather unfortunately for her, it is revealed that Nancy is pregnant with wacked out wizard Wilbur’s quadroon monster child.
Somewhat interestingly, The Dunwich Horror was co-penned by writer/director/producer Curtis Hanson, who is probably best known for directing the sentimental wigger epic 8 Mile (2002) starring racially schizophrenic Aryan untermensch Eminem. Undoubtedly, while The Dunwich Horror and 8 Mile have very little in common, they both reflect that sort of racial and cultural degeneracy that inspired the terror injected in H.P. Lovecraft's stories, albeit to a much horrendous and hopeless extent than the nerdy horror writer could have ever imagined during his nightmarish multicultural strolls in Red Hook, NYC. To further cinematically defecate on Lovecraft’s singular literary legacy of the genetically grotesque, a couple years back SyFy broadcasted the little turd of a TV-movie The Dunwich Horror (2009) aka H.P. Lovecraft's The Darkest Evil, which also stars Dean Stockwell, albeit this time somewhat ironically playing the role of Dr. Henry Armitage. Just as I have no intention of re-watching the Corman-produced The Dunwich Horror, I have no plans to indulge in seeing Stockwell further embarrass himself in something put out by the proud fanboy philistines at Syfy. Personally, I found Lucio Fulci’s incoherent gore-fest City of the Living Dead (1980), which features a town named Dunwich, infinitely more eerie and atmospheric in its depiction of New England when compared to the low-camp Corman corniness of The Dunwich Horror. Masterful Gothic horror degenerated into pseudo-creepy counter-culture crud of the pseudo-salacious and generically psychedelic sort, The Dunwich Horror is ‘folk horror’ at its most conspicuously contrived and horrifically halfhearted, especially considering its talented cast of actors. Indeed, The Dunwich Horror just goes to show the late-1960s/early-1970s were a culturally and aesthetically abhorrent era, as the film leaves a foul retrograde taste in one’s mouth equivalent to the most skunky of Mexican-imported weed, albeit nowhere as hypnotic. For those looking for a more aesthetically-pleasing marriage between Lovecraft and Corman, checkout The Haunted Palace (1963) aka Edgar Allan Poe's The Haunted Palace starring Vincent Price which, although advertised as a Poe adaptation (Corman made a Poe-Cycle of eight Poe-themed films between 1960 and 1965), is actually a loose adaptation of Lovecraft’s short novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927). Of course, it is rather dubious whether the world will ever see a true and faithful celluloid Lovecraft adaptation with a Spenglerian worldview and all, but hopefully one day a young and budding auteur weaned on a steady diet of Viet Harlan, F.W. Murnau, Julius Evola, and Lothrop Stoddard will get the chance. At the very least, one can only hope that leftist lardo Guillermo del Toro and epic hack James Cameron do not get the chance to aesthetically mutilate and molest Lovecraft's sole novella At the Mountains of Madness (1936), as it will surely make the Corman-produced The Dunwich Horror seem like a unsung high-camp masterpiece by comparison.