Dagon (2001)
By: CJ on September 9, 2002  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Lions Gate (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English, Spanish Subtitles. 98 minutes
The Movie
Director: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Merono and Macarena Gomez
Screenplay: Dennis Paoli from H.P.Lovecraft's Shadow over Innsmouth
Music: Carles Cases
AKA: Dagon - La secta del mar, Dagon: Sect of the Sea
Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon once again team up to bring the first Lovecraft adaptation they have done since From Beyond. This project has been sitting on a shelf for some 15 years before it finally went into full production. Was it worth the wait? Read on…

Adapted from H.P.Lovecraft's Shadow over Innsmouth, this tells of a young man, Paul (Ezra Godden) and his lover, Barbara (Raquel Merono), being forced from their boat by a violent storm. They find themselves then stranded in an old fishing village where nothing is quite what it seems. After wandering around a bit they soon find themselves hotly pursued and lose each other. Paul bumps into some old guy who relates the tale of how the village abandoned the Christian God in favour of a more sinister deity called Dagon. This Dagon promised them riches and so they took to worshipping him, and did indeed become rich. At a price. As generations progressed, the townspeople started mutating into…erm…fish. So Paul has lost his girl in a town full of fish-people who are intent on killing him and doing God-knows-what to her. Off he then goes in search of Barbara with the intention of finding her and rescuing her if need be, then getting the hell outta Dodge. However, things are never as simple as that and the ending is happily unpredictable.

Hmmm….fish-people. Not sure about that…

Anyway, it's certainly a polished piece of filmmaking and Gordon handles directorial duties fairly competently. The film does flounder at times and the story itself is a bit muddled in places. Overall though it's not a bad effort and has some startling sequences, but it never seems to quite gel into a cohesive whole. It's more of a film of 'moments' and 'set-pieces' rather than a consistent thread of storytelling. The other complaint I have is the abundance of Spanish actors who can barely speak English. Not bad in itself I suppose, and I'm sure they're all fine actors, but the old guy who recounts his tale is practically unintelligible. I had to use the English subtitling option just to make head or tail of what he was he was saying. But it's a minor quibble.

Not a great film, but not completely without merit either. It has some great moments and is highly entertaining for the most part, but maybe I expected too much. It definitely has that 'old-school-horror' feel to it, which is no bad thing, and it's also great to see Gordon and Yuzna working together again. Like I say, it's neither good nor bad, but very enjoyable never the less.
The transfer is flawless, which is what you would expect from a new release like this anyway. The colours are rich and vibrant, the blacks are solid and there is no visible print defects or compression artefacts or digital smearing. Top quality and will raise no complaints from viewers.
The audio is stunning. It's clear, crisp and has plenty of sound movement. The quality is top-notch and really envelops the viewer in the action. Top marks for the sound design on this film. Absolutely no complaints in this department (though I still couldn't understand the old guy - God help VHS viewers!).
Extra Features
The main extras are two commentaries, one with Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli, and the other with Gordon again, but this time with star Ezra Godden. Both have something different to offer, but nothing special. There is also scene access (a special feature?) and a trailer. The box also states that the disc carries the original story, the source material, but fucked if I could find it!
The Verdict
An entertaining film, but nothing special in my opinion. It has all the ingredients of a classic horror movie, and yet never quite hits the mark. It has some interesting moments, like the skinning alive sequence (which will please the gorehounds among you no end) and the finale, but the film never seems to quite hit its stride, and suffers as a consequence. However, any film that features fish-people, gratuitous nudity and a reasonable amount of bloodshed must have something going for it, and I did, admittedly, enjoy it at that level.
Movie Score
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