review for Dagon on AllMovie

Dagon (2001)
by Jason Buchanan review

H.P. Lovecraft fans may well be the most elusive cinematic horror gold mine that filmmakers have yet to find an effective means to harvest. With a rich and imaginative body of work that has spawned some of the most memorable images in literary horror history and inspired such beloved contemporary genre masters as Stephen King and Clive Barker (whose works have also been adapted into less-than-stellar films), such efforts as The Dunwich Horror and The Unnameable have left Lovecraft fans waiting anxiously for someone to come along and get it right. And though this has happened on rare occasion (Dan O'Bannon's The Resurrected (1992) offered a fairly chilling adaptation of Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward), most film versions of Lovecraft's complex and far-reaching tales have failed to capture the essence of terror that he managed to imbue so effectively onto the written page. Though it's more of a hodgepodge of stories rather than a straight adaptation of the singular tale of Dagon, Stuart Gordon's return to Lovecraft land captures the supreme sense of dread represented in the best of Lovecraft's writings and manages to work it into a well-paced film with some great settings. The seaside town which has fallen prey to the influence of a malevolent sea deity named Dagon is a dank maze of crumbling buildings that becomes a terrifying character on its own terms. Additionally, Fantastic Factory has wisely opted for more traditional prosthetic effects rather than the current trend toward CGI-based animation, with the exception of a brief moment in the film's climax. In the world of Lovecraft's tentacle-bearing beasts, this choice seems far more realistic and provides an effective means of literally fleshing out the characters who have succumbed to Dagon's lures of wealth and prosperity. Though it's not perfect, Lovecraft fans will most likely be willing to forgive Dagon's shortcomings in favor of a film that obviously shows great respect and appreciation for its source materials.