THE DUNWICH HORROR
The Dunwich Horror comes from director Leigh Scott who started out making low-budget films at The Asylum with the likes of The Beast of Bray Road (2005), Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers (2005), Frankenstein Reborn (2005), King of the Lost World (2005), Dragon (2006), Hillside Cannibals (2006), Pirates of Treasure Island (2006), The 9/11 Commission Report (2006), The Hitchhiker (2007) and Transmorphers (2007), as well as several other genre items for other companies with Draculas Curse (2005), Flu Bird Horror (2008), Chrome Angels (2009), The Witches of Oz (2011), Dorothy and the Witches of Oz (2012), The Lost Girls (2014), Piranha Sharks (2014) and episodes of the anthology The Penny Dreadful Picture Show (2013).
To its favour, the 2009 version of The Dunwich Horror attempts to return more to the H.P. Lovecarft story than the 1969 version did. The Lovecraft story concerns Wilbur Whately who tends something monstrous that has taken over his farmhouse and his attempts to steal The Necronomicon from the Miskatonic University so that he can summon Yog-Sothoth. The story ends with Wilbur killed and the thing in the farmhouse emerging to go amok. The 1969 film eliminated the thing in the attic and simply concerned Whatelys attempts to conduct occult rituals and summon the Great Old Ones. This version returns far more to the story, reintroducing elements like Wilburs premature aging and true parentage. That said, this version also makes a number of changes to the story. Most noticeably, the Lovecraft story was about Wilburs attempts to purloin the copy of The Necronomicon from the Miskatonic University library, whereas a substantial amount of the film here has added a new plot about the attempts to acquire The Necronomicon in the first place, requiring the professors to have to go on an occult quest. There is also a good deal of H.P. Lovecraft fanservice throughout the dropping of names like Charles Ward and a Derleth (after August Derleth, the writer who completed many Lovecraft fragments after his death) and places like Innsmouth, as well as an appearance of the ghost of Abdul Alhazared, the author of The Necronomicon. (Oddly enough, for all of this tribute to his works, H.P. Lovecrafts name is not credited as the films source anywhere throughout).
You get a sinking feeling about The Dunwich Horror 2009 when you see that H.P. Lovecrafts setting of Arkham, which is always in New England, has been relocated to Louisiana (necause the production received tax breaks to film there). Things get even worse a few minutes later when Dean Stockwell and assistant Sarah Lieving go in to deliver the possessed Natacha Itzel and Stockwell asks her: Whats your name? Caitlin, which gets the response Thats a quaint name for a 60,000 year old demon. When an attempt at levity falls as clunkily flat as that in the first few minutes, the rest of the film does not seem promising. Nor do the images a few seconds later with Natacha Itzel manifesting cheap digital demon wings out of her back and Dean Stockwell firing tatty animated power blasts at her improve ones expectations any. It is this that causes all hope for the film to plummet instantly.
The rest of the film does not improve any. The entire production is fatally shot in the foot by the cheapness of the budget. Just when the film seems in danger of settling into a passable competence, Leigh Scott kills it with ridiculous scenes like where guru Jeffrey Alan Pilars floats into a room a foot off the ground and delivers his portents as all the while women in a state of undress writhe in the background like somnambulistic belly dancers. You have to see the scene to see how ridiculous it looks. The film mounts to a cheap and unconvincing battle with a CGI demon, which is supposedly the creature lurking in the attic made manifest.
Other films based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft include:- The Haunted Palace (1963), Die, Monster, Die/Monster of Terror (1965) and The Shuttered Room (1966). The big success in the modern era was Stuart Gordons splattery black comedy version of Re-Animator (1985), which popularised Lovecraft on film. This led to a host of B-budget Lovecraft adaptations, including Stuart Gordons subsequent From Beyond (1986), The Curse (1987), The Unnameable (1988), The Resurrected (1992), Necronomicon (1993), The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993), Lurking Fear (1994), Gordons Dagon (2001), and other works such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (2003), Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006), Cool Air (2006), Chill (2007), Cthulu (2007), The Tomb (2007), Colour from the Dark (2008), Pickmans Muse (2010), The Whisperer in Darkness (2011) and The Haunter of the Dark (2015). Also of interest is Cast a Deadly Spell (tv movie, 1991), a tv movie set in an alternate world where magic works and where the central character is a detective named H.P. Lovecraft; Juan Piquer Simons cheap and loosely inspired Cthulu Mansion (1992); John Carpenters Lovecraft homage In the Mouth of Madness (1995); the fan parodies The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulu (2009) and Call Girl of Cthulu (2014); even an animated childrens film Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom (2016) in which a young Lovecraft encounters his own creations; while the Elder Gods turn up at the end of The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Lovecrafts key work of demonic lore The Necronomicon also makes appearances in films such as Equinox (1970), The Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), and was also borrowed as an alternate retitling for Jesus Francos surreal and otherwise unrelated Succubus/Necronomicon (1969) about a BDSM dancer.