YOG-SOTHOTH!!! YOG-SOTHOTH!!! YOG-SOTHOTH WANTS SOME POPCORN so we can watch today's Halloweenie movie: 1970's "THE DUNWICH HORROR". This is another one of those movies which I watched to death on Channel 48's Creature Double Feature back in the 70's. Of course, it's also an adaptation of the master H.P. Lovecraft's short story of the same name. Nowhere near a SUCCESSFUL adaptation but still a lot of fun to watch and quite interesting. Daniel Haller, the cameraman who shot those Poe movies for Roger Corman, graduated to director and this movie is a lot better than his previous stint directing "Die, Monster, Die" (another Lovecraft adaptation -- this time of "The Colour Out of Space"). "THE DUNWICH HORROR" is a lot more enjoyable.
We've got the prologue with Old Whateley (Sam Jaffe) using the hapless Lavinia Whateley as a gateway for the Old Gods to return to earth. He fails, of course, but Lavinia gives birth to Wilbur Whately (suitably "goatish" Dean Stockwell) as well as a tentacled monstrosity which is kept locked in an attic room. Scene's set for fun and games already, ain't it? Then we get the animated credit sequence for the film -- and I was right it IS done by the same designer who did the credits for "BLACULA". Sandy Dvore: her other credits include the animated opening credits for The Partridge Family TV show (!). Fast forward to the present day (1970 of course) where Wilbur is trying to borrow the dreaded Necronomicon from Prof. Armitage (Ed Begley). He makes goo-goo eyes at librarian Nancy (Sandra Dee) (or is that ghoul-ghoul eyes?!?) and wangles a ride home from her. Once at the dilapidated Whately house, wonderful Wilbur drugs her tea and yanks a wire out of her car engine so it won't start. She's gotta spend the night. He then slowly brings her under his power in order to try again with the "summoning Yog-Sothoth" bit.
Sandra Dee is perfect casting for this role since she was always known as the pinnacle of virginal blondehood. And that's just what Wilbur's looking for. By the end of the movie, he's got her lying on a stone altar atop an open air stone temple known as "The Devil's Hopyard". Sadly, the glimpses of Ms. Dee's undraped form we see are those of a body double. But the film makes up for that by having Stockwell use his two pinky rings on either side of his face in the style of real-life "great beast" Aleister Crowley!
As a 70's version of H. P. Lovecraft (and this is apparently the first movie to actually trumpet Lovecraft's name), "THE DUNWICH HORROR" is a flawed but atmospheric stab at it. And since there have been almost no successful movie adaptations of Lovecraft (NEARLY successful -- but that's another story), I'll take this one for what it is.