'Die, Monster, Die!'

From Pop Matters

The 1965 horror film Die, Monster, Die! resembles, more than a little bit, the Edgar Allan Poe Cycle of horror films produced by Roger Corman. Like the Edgar Allan Poe films, Die, Monster, Die! was produced by American International Pictures, features lavish sets and colors and stars a bona fide Horror Icon (Boris Karloff instead of Vincent Price).

However, Die, Monster, Die!, ostensibly based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Colour Out of Space, is much more than just a similar film from the same studio. This film also closely matches elements of two of the Poe Cycle films, Fall of the House of Usher (1960) and The Haunted Palace (1963). In that the latter film only borrows its name from a Poe poem and derives its plot from another H.P. Lovecraft story (“The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”), this might bring us full-circle, however the similarities to Fall of the House of Usher are much more pronounced.

In Die, Monster, Die!, tough American scientist Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) arrives in English town of Arkham (as opposed to Lovecraft’s Arkham, Massachusetts) to meet with his fiancée Susan Witley (Suzan Farmer), much like their counterparts from House of Usher unite. Reinhart is daunted from his task when he discovers that all of the townspeople mistrust and abhor “The Witley House” and consider it to be dangerous or even supernatural, much like the townspeople in The Haunted Palace mistrust and abhor “The Curwen House” and believe that it must house a warlock.

Once Reinhart arrives (on foot) at the Witley house, he is barred from seeing his fiancée by her overbearing father, as played by Karloff (their counterparts in House of Usher are initially prevented from meeting each other by the young lady’s overbearing older brother). In an oddball combination of House and Palace, the family’s nervousness regarding strangers is said to relate to a multigenerational madness that threatens to keep coming back, as the overhanging portraits of the scary Witley ancestors can attest to.


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