Feb 6, 2015
VHS Week Day 5: DAGON (2001)
As I popped in the Dagon cassette, I questioned why it doesn't seem to have the following that director Stuart Gordon's other Lovecraft adaptations do. Re-Animator...From Beyond...even Castle Freak! Beloved by the horror community, talked about and referenced and worn on t-shirts and put on the cover of horror magazines and blah blah. Is it Jeffrey Combs? Is he the common denominator Dagon lacks that leaves the film out in the cold all alone? Or maybe Barbara Crampton is the secret ingredient? Is the movie just another casualty of the 2001 limbo zone I talked about earlier this week? It just didn't make sense to me. Then I remembered that even I had yet to see Dagon and so I punched myself in the face because if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.
(Aside: more Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton in things, please, Hollywood. I KNOW YOU'RE READING THIS.)
(Another aside: after nearly 15 years of thinking "Oh yeah, Mia Kirshner's in that" every time Dagon came up, I learned that this is not actually her. THE MORE YOU KNOW *rainbow starburst*)
About 25 minutes into the movie I had a thought: "Man, I could watch weirdo fishpeople make strange noises and flop-run around all day!" and let me tell you, it's a good thing I had that thought because that's pretty much all Dagon is.
After a storm lodges their boat on a rock, Paul (Ezra Godden) and Barbara (Raquel Meroño) seek help in an eerie, decrepit fishing village on the shores of Spain. It's not long before Barbara goes missing and Paul runs from the townsfolk, aka the weirdo fishpeople. And then Paul finds a hiding spot for a minute, and then he runs again. And then he finds a hiding spot, and then he runs again. It just keeps happening over and over! Poor Paul. I should be saying "poor me" because this pattern sounds really boring, doesn't it? But it's a testament to Gordon's skill as a director and/or my heretofore unknown love of weirdo fishpeople that I wasn't bored in the slightest.
It's also a testament to Ezra Godden charms and/or skills as an actor that I didn't hate Paul, because he's the sort of whiny dweeb you might grow tired of very quickly. Especially when he reminds you of the lead character in one of the worst video games you've ever played.
Eventually the run-hide-run pattern is tossed aside and shit gets really nuts and occasionally wicked gross in the last 15 minutes as the weirdo fishpeople set about sacrificin' in the name of their fishgod Dagon. If you wanna be spoiled and see some hot GIF and screencap action, head on over to our pal JA's My New Plaid Pants where he talks about a way you really don't want to die.
To sum it up: I was so into this movie! I loved it, even without Crampton and Combs. Even with spots of dodgy 2001 CGI! I mean, I can't imagine not digging a movie set in a creepy town with a secret, especially when that secret turns out to be weirdo fishpeople. It's like Dagon is right out of My Super Movie Wish Diary. I don't know if the horror community at large will ever embrace you fully, Dagon, but I sure will...with all the love my disgusting tentacle arms can hold.