Intergalactic sex and an evil twin

Intergalactic sex and an evil twin

This time I will talk about another adaptation of a Lovecraft story, which I saw a long time ago: The Dunwich Horror, from 1970.

Based on the story of the same name and directed by Daniel Haller, the same director of Die Monster, Die (I’m talking about it here) was produced by Roger Corman.

In this film, award-winning actor Ed Begley made his last appearance in a movie. It was also one of the last leading roles for actress Sandra Dee.

dunwich Horror Poster
dunwich Horror Poster

Production

Behind the project was American International Pictures, one of the most active B-class horror film studios back in the ’60s

Initially, they wanted to give the role of Wilbur Whateley to Peter Fonda, but he turned it down. Dean Stockwell was the one who finally embodied the character.

book
book

The film was shot in Mendocino, California. It premiered on January 14, 1970. On August 28, 2001, MGM released it on DVD. In 2005 they made a new release which included Die Monster, die.

In 2009 a new version was released. I can’t talk about it because I haven’t seen it… yet.

Before we continue, spoiler alert: If you’re thinking of watching the movie, you should stop reading now.

The plot

We see Mrs Whateley lying on a bed with a symbol painted on her forehead. She is about to give birth. Beside her, old Whateley, together with some old women who are not known, contemplate the scene without bothering to help the poor woman. Eventually old Whateley gets her out of bed and takes her away.

mother
mother

Then the titles begin: An animated sequence where two helpless silhouettes move through an ever-changing landscape, of which we only see… well, silhouettes. It is worth highlighting a scene where the landscape takes the form of a demon and eats the characters. This does not have much to do with what happens in the film but it anticipates, in a very conceptual way, what we are going to see.

demon eating people
demon eating people

After the credits we find Wilbur Whateley at Miskatonic University in Arkham insistently asking to see some pages of the Necronomicon. Dr. Henry Armitage (Begley) refuses, but Wilbur hypnotizes one of his assistants, Nancy Wagner (Dee), into allowing him to take the book from the museum.

museum
museum

We have a match!

Wilbur misses the bus on purpose, and after talking for a while in a bar, Nancy offers to give him a ride home. As soon as they arrive in town, Nancy begins to notice the hostility of the people towards Wilbur. Once they arrive at the Whateley mansion, Wilbur introduces her to his grandfather.

car
car

Grandpa disagrees with Nancy’s presence and is particularly concerned that the girl could open a door upstairs. We don’t know what’s behind that door, but someone or something is struggling with the latch.

father
father

Later, Wilbur breaks down Nancy’s car and drugs her, then he offers her to stay there for the weekend. At night, Nancy has strange dreams where she is lying on an altar in the middle of the field. People in tribal garb surround her, performing some kind of ritual.

dream
dream

Armitage and a friend of Nancy’s go looking for her. They’re worried about her. But she tells them she’s okay. They accept her decision to stay with Wilbur, but stay in town and see what they can find out about the Whateley family.

The investigation

Thus, they discover that Wilbur’s mother is still alive, but is in an insane asylum. Her doctor informs Armitage that the woman had twins, but one died (although the doctor was not present and did not see the body) and the trauma destroyed the woman’s mind and almost ended her life.

crazy mother
crazy mother

Meanwhile, Nancy grows closer to Wilbur. She has conversations with him where they discuss topics like… sex.

girl
girl

Wilbur tells him about his family’s past and the conflict with the townspeople. He had an ancestor. The people hanged him for heresy. Wilbur explains that for this person, god and the devil were the same, and he preferred to believe in some beings he called “the old ones”.

Later, Wilbur has an argument with his grandfather. Wilbur wants to summon the old ones, but his grandfather warns him that he too used the Necronomicon and it didn’t work. In fact, it nearly destroyed Wilbur’s mother.

But Wilbur is determined. A struggle ensues, Grandpa has an accident and dies. Wilbur tries to bury him in the local cemetery, but he performs a ritual from his religion (the way he moved a knife, as if forming a cross, caught my attention). This angers the townspeople who kick him out.

knife
knife

The Ritual

Later, Wilbur takes Nancy to a spot on top of a cliff. There is an ancient altar there. Wilbur convinces Nancy to lie down on the altar, dressed in a very sexy ceremonial tunic.

altar
altar

There Wilbur begins his ritual to summon the old ones, with the help of Nancy. He does the same weird moves with the knife.

ritual

He also makes a gesture, which I later discovered was quite common in certain occult groups at the time, but the first time I saw it was in this movie. At the same time he makes the gesture, he recites “yog-sothoth”.

gesture
gesture

The plot twist

Near the end of the ritual, Wilbur calls out to his brother. Then the mysterious door from the earlier scene opens and a deformed monster is released. He is Wilbur’s twin, who had not really died. This suggests that the father of the twins was not from this world. We begin to see through the monster’s eyes, which seem to have a perception in different colors.

brother
brother

Meanwhile, Nancy’s friend, after listening to the warnings of the townspeople, gets into the mansion, with such bad luck that she runs into Wilbur’s brother. It doesn’t end well for her.

mansion
mansion

And so the monster heads towards the altar, to serve as the key that would open the door to the old ones. Will the ritual work as Wilbur hopes, or will something go terribly wrong? You’ll have to watch it to find out.

Here the trailer:

Bibliography:

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dunwich_Horror_(pel%C3%ADcula_de_1970)


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