#199 -- Die, Monster, Die! (1965)
Rating: 4 / 5
Director: Daniel Haller
I just love how these old movies rope you in with their covers. On the top it says, "Can you face the ultimate in diabolism...can you stand pure terror?" And then down below, in smaller writing, it says, "It COULD happen; It MAY happen; It MIGHT happen...to YOU!" It makes you think that you're about to witness the deepest depravities, the purest terror that you will ever witness; then it scares you by saying it's going to happen to you. Plus it's got that catchy title and the wicked looking monster. All that, plus the bright colors, is what caught my attention. And, of course, "Starring Boris Karloff" got me too.
Die, Monster, Die! is about a man named Stephen who goes to England to visit his girlfriend, Susan. Once he gets there, it's immediately obvious that something fishy is going on. No one in the town will tell him how to get to the house, and everyone seems afraid of the mere mentioning of the name Witley. He ends up having to walk to the house, which is hidden pretty well out in the woods. On the way, he finds a sinkhole with everything around it dead. Mr. Witley (Karloff) is not very accepting of Stephen, and tells him to get away at once. Susan, of course, loves him and insists that he stay. Mrs. Witley is ill; she never leaves her darkened bedroom or the safety of her canopy-covered bed. She confesses to Stephen that their maid, Helga, disappeared after a bout of some disease which caused her to act in the same way that Mrs. Witley is acting now. She asks Stephen to take Susan away from the house immediately, and it seems like she's scared of her husband.
It doesn't take Stephen very long to realize that something is really wrong with the Witley house, and their family. Mr. Witley seems to have taken up the ways of his father, Corbin Witley, who was into some sort of dark arts. Mrs. Witley says something about Corbin unleashing dark forces into the house, and that they've finally arrived to doom them all. The house butler, Merwyn, dies mysteriously one night, and Mr. Witley is keen on covering the whole thing up. Stephen follows him as he buries Merwyn's body, and he stumbles on the property greenhouse. It truly is green, shrouded by a mysterious glow, but it's locked so Stephen can't get in to investigate right away. After he's attacked in the woods by a woman he is sure is Helga, he insists that Susan help him into the greenhouse to find the answers. They break in, and what they find is truly terrifying. There are giant plants all over, and a back room filled with mutated creatures. They find a glowing green stone that is later revealed as a meteorite, fallen from the skies. Mr. Witley is sure that it was sent by his father to continue his devilish ways.
So, what does this stone do? It makes plants grow abnormally large, and turns creatures and humans alike into monsters.
Once the full effect takes over Mrs. Witley, she becomes a gruesome thing and attacks Stephen. Mr. Witley finally realizes (or at least admits) that the stone is dangerous, and he tries to destroy it. Unfortunately, the evil grabs hold of him as well.
This was based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, who seemed to be very interested in scientific and in-explainable mysteries. Of course it's interesting and different, that need not be stated. Older movies have a way of being very unique and different, which is one of the reasons I love them. Boris Karloff was amazing, as usual, and remains one of my favorite actors. This was a time before psychos stalking campers or babysitters; it was a time of things that could not be explained, and that is the worlds greatest fear: the unknown. I don't know exactly what that stone was, but hey! It could happen to me, right? So of course I should be afraid of it, especially since I don't know what it is. If I knew what it was, there would be a way to destroy it, or overcome it. I could learn from it, or about it, in a way that would help me survive it. But since I have no idea, there's no way around it; once it takes hold of my soul, there's no getting free.