Lionsgate Films has released the 2001 horror film Dagon on Blu-ray in its Vestron Video Collector’s Series line. Is it a scary good time? You should probably read on to find out.
The adaption of Dagon comes from an H.P. Lovecraft short story from 1917 based around a sea deity called Dagon and another story much later in his career named The Shadow Over Innsmouth. However, Dagon is not explicitly accepted as an official Cthulhu story; though some elements were still used in his other works. I had never seen this during its initial release. The film is seemingly in good hands being produced by Brian Yuzna, written by Dennis Paoli and directed by Stuart Gordon (all of Re-Animator fame).
The plot itself starts off pretty straightforward. Paul Marsh is the lead, played by Ezra Godden, as a less nerdy and less interesting Jeffrey Combs. Paul keeps having these dreams of finding hidden gold in the ocean and being seduced by a mermaid who of course has a mouth full of fangs. While Paul and his girlfriend Barbara (Raquel Meroño) are arguing over how much of their vacation time is spent on his work a storm comes in and shipwrecks them and their two friends, Howard and Vicki.
Howard and Vicki “decide” to stay behind while our intrepid heroes go off to a little fishing village they spot through binoculars to get some help. Odd people and events are discovered in the town. Consequently, this is where the bulk of the film takes place. Will Paul and Barbara get the help they need? Is the fact that this is a Lovecraft story give away too much? You’ll have to watch to find out for sure.
The movie itself is weird and silly enough to be entertaining. I think there are enough monsters, odd acting choices, violence, and nudity to entertain the type of audience that is accustomed to Vestron’s other film offerings. Dagon does seem a bit too much like a made for TV movie for my tastes. Some of it is the way it is filmed, and some of it is the over-reliance on poor CG effects. I also can’t say I ever really cared for either of the leads, but I have that problem in quite a few horror films. I like more of the charismatic odd characters than following the loser or other cliched types hoping to see them come to a violent death.
Don’t come into the film looking for realism or a Romeroesque study of human nature. The movie gets more ridiculous (and has questionable character choices) as it goes. It’s right on the edge of “so bad it’s good” territory, and it may be something worth watching with an enthusiastic group of friends. But since there are so few grand Lovecraftian horror movies, it just may be what the doctor ordered.
The transfer itself might be a faithful recreation, but it seemed really soft to me, especially for a film from 2001. I rarely saw any grain, and it appeared to be more like a direct to video than a theatrical release. This is my first time watching the film though, so that could be the look the crew was going for. The audio comes in English DTS-HD Master 5.1 with English SDH and Spanish subtitles. It’s a solid presentation with clear dialog.
The Vestron Video Collector’s Series has a decent mix of special features, and this release is no different. The two audio commentaries are a must listen with interesting information about the budget constraints, behind the scenes anecdotes and the fact that they wanted to make this specific film since 1985. The interviews are engaging and a fun trip down memory lane with the filmmakers.
- Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon and Screenwriter Dennis Paoli
- Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon and Star Ezra Godden
- Gods & Monsters – A 22-minute interview with director Stuart Gordon hosted by filmmaker Mick Garris.
- Shadows Over Imboca – A 20-minute interview with producer Brian Yuzna.
- Fish Stories – 18-minute interview with S.T. Joshi, author of multiple H.P. Lovecraft books.
- Vintage Featurette – 27 minutes
- Archival Interviews 21 minutes with Stuart Gordon, Ezra Godden and crew.
- Conceptual Art, Storyboard and Still Gallery 23 minutes
- Theatrical Trailer
Dagon Final Thoughts:
There is enough atmosphere and creepy characters in Dagon to satisfy an audience who are into cult horror films. There is one nicely done violent torture scene, but I expected just a bit more from this team. All in all, it’s just an average cult horror film that sadly was made on too small of a budget. If you are a big fan of the movie, then you have to be ecstatic about the special features, but your expectation of the visuals needs to be tempered. The film is available on Amazon and other fine retailers.
We received this Blu-ray for review. It has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.