The Dunwich Horror

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Wilbur Whateley (Dean Stockwell) seems like a normal enough guy, but he has a dark side, one much darker than anyone suspects. At the library at Miskatonic University, Wilbur is trying to check out the Necronomicon, which has writings about aliens gods and such, very eerie stuff. Wilbur wants to have this book as reference, but not just for a good read, as he has rather large plans for the book and the alien gods described inside. While he is within the library, he runs into Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee), a helpful and very beautiful young coed, who happens to be studying with a couple others there. Nancy offers to escort Wilbur back to his home in Dunwich, but that proves to be a mistake, as Wilbur now plans to use her in his sinister plot. He drugs her and then forces her to remain at his place, so as to make her part of his horrific ritual, which involves certain powerful passages from the Necronomicon. But will Wilbur be able to complete his ritual, or will someone come to the rescue, thwart his plans, and rescue young Nancy?

As with most H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, The Dunwich Horror falls short of the potential of the material, but I still think it is a fun flick. This is a wise addition to MGM’s Midnite Movies line also, as it has some real issues in terms of camp, as well as dated 1970s visuals. The clothes really give this one away as a 70s picture, but I don’t think that matters, to be honest. The production values remain solid here and while you can tell there wasn’t too much cash here, the filmmakers have done a fine turn in terms of value, as the on screen result looks good. But this is no classic by any means, as it has tons of unintentional humor, but if you ask me, that just adds to the overall entertainment value involved. Dean Stockwell (Blue Velvet) and Sandra Dee (Gidget) lead the cast and perform well enough, especially Stockwell, who seems a little too natural within his role. In the end, this movie should please fans of Lovecraft to an extent, but I think lovers of Midnite Movies will be more satisfied, overall. This disc from MGM has minimal bells & whistles, but looks great and sports a low price, so I think it is more than worth a look.

Video: How does it look?

The Dunwich Horror is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I was very pleased with the visual effort here, as the image looks clean and sharp, while the anamorphic enhancement makes it all that much sweeter. I’d seen this on television before and the print looked rough, so I assumed that would be the print used here, but that is not the case. Aside from a few problematic scenes, the print looks very good and cleaner than expected, to be sure. The film has very dark visuals, but contrast remains strong, so detail is high at all times. This won’t be your new home theater showcase disc, but fans should be quite pleased, as MGM has issued a terrific, anamorphic transfer that looks terrific.

Audio: How does it sound?

I don’t have a whole lot to report on this end, as the included mono track is a little dated, but still sounds good enough. As is to be expected, this 1970 mono track sounds a tad thin at times, but the basics come through well, which is enough in this case. If this movie were remade today, it could have a very dynamic soundtrack, but due to the approaches used here, this film simply wouldn’t gain much from added surround presence, at least not most of the time. The dialogue is well presented at all times, with no volume or clarity issues to report, while the sound effects also come through in decent enough form. This disc also includes a French language option, as well as subtitles in Spanish and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

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