Based very loosely on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space, the 1965 release Die, Monster, Die! was an attempt by American International Pictures to revisit the success of the Edgar Allen Poe films directed and/or produced by Roger Corman, many of which starred Vincent Price or Boris Karloff. Unfortunately, even though all of the ingredients are present, the film is only half-baked, leaving the audience somewhat unsatisfied.
Distributed By: Scream Factory
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 20 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeepcase
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 01/21/2014
American scientist Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) arrives in the fictional English village of Arkham, looking for the Witley Estate. Taxi drivers, merchants, and barflys refuse to give him directions or provide transportation for him, so he somehow manages to walk to the mansion without directions (in a day and age without GPS or smartphones). As he travels by foot, he comes across an area obviously devastated by fire, evidenced by the crumbling of a tree branch between his fingers. When he finally arrives at the mansion, it appears deserted, so he invites himself inside, only to be greeted by wheelchair bound Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff) and his servant Merwyn (Terence de Marney). Witley warns him to leave at once, but Stephen insists that he was invited by both Mrs. Witley (Freda Jackson) and their daughter Susan (Suzan Farmer). Susan quickly greets Stephen and escorts him upstairs to her mother’s room. Things begin to get a bit creepy, as Mrs. Witley asks to speak with Stephen alone, and does so from behind a veiled four poster bed, warning him to leave by morning and to take Susan with him. Meanwhile, Witley and Merwyn head down to the dungeon-like cellar to check on a source of green light from the floor (which we later find out is the remnants of a meteorite that landed nearby). Apparently, the meteorite contains lethal doses of radiation, effectively turning first their housekeeper Helga and then Mrs. Witley into zombie-like monsters and driving Witley insane. But Stephen, who is supposed to be a scientist (or at least studied science with Susan at college), isn’t phased by any of the strange occurrences at the mansion, other than conducting an investigation on them.
The Production Rating: 3/5
The biggest problem with Die, Monster, Die! is that first-time director Daniel Haller, who served as Art Director on many of the Corman/Poe films, never manages to build the scenes or even the story to any real suspense, often cutting away just as a scene becomes interesting. Nick Adams never comes off as a scientist, partly due to the fact that he often sounds more like a Chicago gangster. Karloff, who had played similar roles before, portrays Witley with ease, reciting sometimes ridiculous dialogue but infusing it with fun. Die, Monster, Die! is not a great film, and I wouldn’t even categorize it as a classic or even a cult classic, but has just enough old movie charm and an appealing art design to make it a nice second feature of a classic horror double bill.
MGM has provided Shout! Factory with a very nice high definition transfer that retains the film’s intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and was compressed using the AVC codec. At first, I was concerned with the overall softness as well as a minimal build-up of scratches and dirt during the opening title sequence. These appeared to be inherent in the many optical effects used during the titles, and the image quickly improved (evidenced by a jump cut) as the titles and dissolve ended and the train carrying Reinhart arrived in Arkham. Colors are fairly solid and well-saturated, with very good detail (sometimes too good, revealing some obvious matte paintings). Black levels are nice and inky, without too much noticeable crush.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track does its job, providing clear dialogue, effects, and music emanating from the center channel when playing back in surround mode. The higher resolution does reveal some of the limitations in sound recording technologies from the mid 1960s, but its never distracting.
Audio Rating: 3/5
Trailer (HD; 1:55): The main menu identifies this as a trailer, but it feels more like the Cliffs Notes version of the movie, with no dialogue whatsoever. It is quite possible that this is a trailer, but it is missing a narrator track and title cards.
Special Features Rating: 1/5
A Corman/Poe wannabe, Die, Monster, Die! is a beautiful looking but often silly horror film that fails to provide any real suspense or chills. Shout! Factory’s presentation is quite good, but the trailer is a head-scratcher.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Todd Erwin
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