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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dagon: SE
Dagon: SE
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // July 23, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted October 13, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

Nearly two decades in the making, Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna dance with who brung 'em with yet another inventive spin on H.P. Lovecraft's chilling writings. Their ambitious Dagon (2001, 98 minutes) is among a trio of flicks from the emerging Spain-based, horror-centric Fantastic Factory. Yunza not only co-founded the studio, he directed its first flick, Faust, and produced its gooey, yet uninspired creature feature Arachnid. But CineSchlockers should take notice as Gordon's Dagon is clearly Fantastic Factory's most solid step toward their eagerly anticipated Beyond Re-Animator!

The movie: A vacation lazing aboard a sailboat runs aground -- literally -- when a sudden squall permanently rains on Paul and Barbara's parade (Ezra Godden and Raquel Merono) sending them paddling frantically for shore. The two are separated once they arrive at a fishy little village that appears very nearly deserted. Locals Paul does encounter are mighty tight lipped and claim Barbara's off at the next town over getting help for their injured friends. Suspicious, but momentarily content, he heads upstairs to a hotel room that looks like Johnny Cash and Keith Moon tag teamed. But before Paul can pitch a proper fit, he gazes out his window and sees the cobblestone streets FILLED with waddling, groaning folks who all ogle him as if he's the catch of the day. Turns out he is! This is where the cat 'n' mouse stuff starts. It's punctuated with a run in with a drunken bum (Francisco Rabal) who babbles about Imboca's sinister history. Luckily there's accompanying flashbacks, because his slurring gibberish needs subtitles even when he seems to be speaking English! But, hey, chalk it up to REALISM. Then Paul steals into a hilltop mansion, snoops where he shouldn't and winds up swapping spit with frisky mamacita Macarena Gomez who turns out to be a real MONSTER in the sack. Stu doesn't slop around the grue until the final reel when a fish-eyed priest (Ferran Lahoz) makes Paul watch as his booze-hound buddy is skinned like a trout. It's delish, but not as tasty as seeing Ms. Merono dangling nekkid from a cast iron chandelier while the mutant townsfolk writhe beneath her. For stateside CineSchlockers, this may be the first introduction to the storied career of "Paco" Rabal who tragically passed away shortly after completing this film.

Notables: Four breasts. 21 corpses. Copious CGI shenanigans. Throat slitting. Double arm amputation. Multiple firesuit stunts. Toilet diving. Gratuitous hara-kiri scene. Jumpsuits made of human skin.

Quotables: Paul upon witnessing the weird religious rites of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, "YOU'RE A BUNCH OF [email protected]#&ING FREAKS!!!"

Time codes: Our hero's first run in with a value-sized mackerel (27:35). Eccentric geezer spins a horrifying yarn (41:40). Gorehound's delight (1:13:00). Doesn't get much better than a squealin' nekkid gal strung up from the ceiling (1:24:30).

Audio/Video: Presented in its original widescreen (1.85:1) with an admirable transfer, especially given how much of this flick plays out AT NIGHT during a STORM. Certainly a scenario for a potential digital disaster. Crisis averted! Deep, rumbling bass propels the Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

Extras: Fans of Mr. Gordon can double their pleasure with TWO commentaries. First he joins screenwriter Dennis Paoli in discussion of how they coalesced Lovecraft's "Dagon" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" into this enthusiastic production. It's informative and even slyly witty such as when a still-pruned Stuart curses their "brilliant" pre-production notion of having it rain throughout the flick. On the second track, the director's joined by Mr. Godden who explains -- in his native English accent -- how his fascination with Jackie Chan led him to recall childhood hero Harold Lloyd. Ezra claims the spectacled silent icon influenced his characterization of Paul -- most obviously in his decision to wear glasses. That choice and his manic undercurrent might also remind some of CineSchlocker fave Jeffrey Combs. Both tracks are so rich both in content and entertainment value it's impossible to recommend one more than the other. Storyboards for three sequences are included, as is an EXTENSIVE gallery of conceptual artwork. Theatrical trailer, plus reels for Crocodile 2: Death Swamp and Frailty.

Final thought: A whopper of a fish story told as only the great Stuart Gordon and friends could. Recommended.

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.
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