January 7th, 2008



H P. Lovecraft's
{XXXVI A.S. Based on short stories "Dagon" and "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" by H. P. Lovecraft. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Screenplay by Dennis Paoli. Starring Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Meroño, Macarena Gómez, Brendan Price, Birgit Bofarull, Uxía Blanco, Ferran Lahoz. Made in Spain. Genre: Horror.}

"Dagon - Philistine avenging devil of the sea." ~ The Satanic Bible.

Paul Marsh, his girlfriend Barbara, and another couple {one of whom doesn't make it} are shipwrecked by a mysterious storm, becoming stranded in a dank Spanish town named "Imboca" {what would have been "Innsmouth"}, populated by transmutating barely human amphibious creatures.

When his companions disappear, he learns the truth of this place from "Ezequiel", an elderly vagrant who relates that the strange occupants are actually cultists who worship the Cthulhu-like Dagon, and have long since turned the local Catholic Church {whose then-resident priest was slain} into one of this sea god. This yields to highly dramatic scenes of transition featuring a High Priest taking control of the town. Their emblem resembles a subaqueous "all-seeing eye" which replaces smashed christian icons.

Marsh is pursued by the tentacle-limbed zombie-like inhabitants through one suspenseful situation to the next, where he eventually discovers human skin hanging from hooks, other mutant creatures, and a really enchantingly beautiful mermaid named Uxia {the delicious Macarena Gomez} pining for his amorous attention. Throughout this tale, it seems he had oneiromantically forseen glimpses of this entire adventure in his dreams, from the alien symbols to this beauty.

He, Barbara, and Ezequiel eventually find themselves about to be sacrificed to the hungry Dagon, until Marsh is rescued by this superb mermaid, who desires him for her own. Turns out Uxia is the High Priestess, attired in glorious ceremonial vestments, lifting an impressive spinal dagger, uttering the invocation "IA! IA! Cthulhu F'Thag'n" phrase ubiquitous in the Lovecraftian mythos. At the ceremony, the black robed High Priest comes forth, who has since evolved into the personafication of Cthulhu will an octopus head and tentacles about the mouth.

Ezequiel is killed, and Barbara is lowered into a well-like pit to feed the aquatic beast. In the end, despite the self-immolation of Marsh, the Dagonites actually prevail, as he essentially sheds his skin to join the sublime Uxia when he realizes he is actually one of them.

Beginning in a lightmare, Dagon concludes in a nightmarish purging of perception. Those who appreciate the works of 'The Old Gent' will enjoy this one. With minimal gore, some brief CGI, and gloomy environments, this is a thrilling, and very dark film with a refreshing twist, sans the typical duality and plot outcome common in most cult / monster movies, where the protagonist was formally his own antagonist, who experiences realization and acceptance of his true nature.