Monster Of Terror/Die, Monster, Die!, 1965. 6/10

A very watchable mash-up of sci-fi and horror. That spaceage bugaboo, radiation, gets tossed in rather artfully via a meteorite in Karloff’s backyard. The suspension of disbelief is cloaked in both supernatural garb, as Karloff’s Whitley initially assumes that the stuff was sent from ‘the other side’, and the pseudo-science of the Whitley clan’s ‘research.’

Die, Monster, Die! is a sort of updated Frankenstein. Karloff, as Dr. Frankenstein, messes with the forbidden fruits of science, to produce, in this case, not just one monster, but enough for the insect, animal, and (sort-of) human worlds as well. Some of the grotesque combinations are hideous; I agree with those who point out that the special effects are well done. The snail-like thing in the potting shed is completely creepy; the mutated Karloff, with the green glow and mummy-like face, works as both demon and alien.

The sets also work well. The house itself, in good gothic fashion, functions as a major character. The dungeon/laboratory is especially haunting; with those expressionist murals on the walls that seem to writhe in the quivering candlelight. Looks a lot like the sets from The Pit and the Pendulum. I’m also reminded of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with its exotic stuff in the greenhouse also growing nasty things.

As entertaining as Die, Monster, Die! is, I just find too many holes to rate the movie higher. You could practically ditch Nick Adams’ character completely; he doesn’t really add anything, except to act as Susan’s savior. Even Susan’s extraneous. Why does she seem clueless about what’s going on in the house? She lives there after all. Except for the scenes with her mother that establish her identity, she may as well be an outsider. The plot would work better if we had the story from Karloff’s point of view.

Then we could concentrate on the various mutants/monsters. As it is, they seem to just show up randomly to spook Stephen and/or Susan. We never get to see Karloff using the green stone thingie for his malicious ‘experiments.’ It is cool that the green stuff mutates him as he destroys it. Sort of a ‘sins of the fathers’ curse from beyond, or beyond space.

An ambitious film, let down somewhat by non-mutant characters who act witless, and a series of incidents thrown together (mutated?) into a plot. Still plenty of fun. 6/10.

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