THE DUNWICH HORROR (1969) Reviews and overview



The Dunwich Horror is a 1969 (released 1970) horror film produced by American International Pictures, directed by executive producer Roger Corman’s former art director Daniel Haller (Die, Monster, Die!).

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The film was based on the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft with a script co-written by future director Curtis Hanson (Sweet Kill; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle).



A woman writhes and moans with the pain of childbirth. She is then led out of the room by the elderly man…

At the Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, Doctor Henry Armitage (Begley) has just finished a lecture on the local history and the very rare and priceless Necronomicon. He gives the book to his student Nancy Wagner (Dee) to return to the library. She is followed by a stranger, who later introduces himself as Wilbur Whateley (Stockwell). Whateley asks to see the book, and though it is closing time and the book is reputedly the only copy in existence, Nancy allows it under the influence of Whateley’s hypnotic gaze…

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“There are gloriously campy moments (Stockwell speaking some ancient “language”, while holding his Ogam-stone rings up beside his head … Sandra Dee writhing almost naked on some Druidic altar as Stockwell places the sacred book in between her legs – to do his incantations – naked witchy hippie types running through fields in dream-esque sequences that are supposed to be horrifying yet end up looking just mildly amusing and vaguely erotic – lots of intense closeups of people looking evil or suspicious.” The Sheila Variations

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“If one is familiar with the monster movie form, it’s obvious how things will unfold from the first shot of that locked door rattling ominously on its hinges. It’s not a matter of whether the imprisoned Horror will break free and munch its way through Dunwich, but when. There’s a kind of elemental pleasure in watching this sort of scenario unfold, but The Dunwich Horror is too unfocused to thrive as a pure monster-in-the-dark tale.” Gateway Cinephile

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The Dunwich Horror is a weird enough tale to hold your interest despite some repetitious scenes with a tendency to drag. That it supplants the usual Satanic cult themes with the Lovecraft mythos is a definite boon.” Brian Lindsey, Eccentic Cinema

“There are times when it threatens to out-batshit The Wicker Man, with crazy dream/hallucination sequences (some with what looks like a cheesecloth overlay, for the hell of it) and death scenes that look like something Argento would cook up on an acid trip. It’s also hilarious how often Stockwell poisons the love interest; it seems every other scene finds her drinking tea and then “feeling dizzy” after.” Horror Movie a Day

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Image credits: Arkham Drive-In | Cinema Errante

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