Year 1965
Studio AIP
Producer Pat Green
Director Daniel Haller
Writer Jerry Sohl
Music Don Banks
Cast

Boris Karloff

Suzan Farmer

Patrick Magee

Nick Adams

Length 80 mins

     
Die Monster Die

‘‘ How clearly he recalled those dying words of Nahum's-- "can't git away... draws ye... ye know summ'at's comin', but 'tain't no use..." ’’

The second feature to stake a claim in Lovecraftian territory is another AIP production, Die Monster Die. A loose (one might say unrestrained, unconfined, and unyoked) adaptation of HPL's "The Colour out of Space," a story cited in O'Brien's Best Short Stories of 1927.

Unlike his low opinion of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Lovecraft was very proud of "The Colour out of Space" calling it "my best tale" and "the only one of the lot which I take any pride in." The story was immediately accepted by Hugo Gernsback and first published in Amazing Stories, earning Howard the princely sum of $25.

Die Monster Die starred Boris Karloff and was directed by the art director of The Haunted Palace, Daniel Haller. The most Lovecraftian element appears right up front: a title sequence of swirling cosmic colors looking like the stargate trip of 2001: A Space Odyssey, invoking the feeling of the short story's "shining bands unlike any known colours of the normal spectrum."

From there Jerry Sohl's script takes a hard left, doing The Haunted Palace one better by not only changing the time period but the continent as well, setting the story in the backwater shire of Arkham, England.

The movie opens as B-movie mainstay Nick Adams, starring as the American trenchcoat-wearing "science student" Stephen Reinhart, steps off the train at Arkham Station searching for his fiancÍ Susan Witley. Actress Suzan Farmer, wearing a wonderfully tight sweater, really stands out in her role as Miss Witley (but we're getting ahead of ourselves).

Science student Reinhart might as well be looking for Castle Dracula by the way the pasty-faced villagers shut up when he asks directions to Witley Manor; they deny him cab, car and even bicycle, forcing him to travel by foot.

On the long walk through the English countryside, Reinhart happens by a large impact crater dug deep into the earth, an impressive matte painting of the "blasted heath" of Lovecraft's original: a five-acre area where plants refuse to grow.

At the huge Witley Manor, Reinhart is as unwelcome as he was in Arkham. The wheelchair-bound lord of the manor, Nahum Witley (played by Boris Karloff, who looks sadly ill just four years before his death) demands that he leave. But Susan joyfully welcomes Stephen with a quick tour of her ancestral portraits, pointing out a devilish picture of Grandfather Corbin Witley—who was best known for going insane.

Something is not quite right at the manor.

At dinner, terrible screams are served with the mutton and the sickly butler Merwyn collapses while cutting his master's meat. Reinhart is very concerned, but Nahum says that this kind of thing has happened before and he knows what to do.

That night the hapless Merwyn dies, leaving behind a weird stain on the bedroom floor. This really piques the science student's curiosity and he follows Nahum into the garden, secretly watching the old man burying what's left of the butler. Mysterious lights from the Manor's greenhouse distract the wary science guy because it's the kind of thing he's seen in a science lab . . . the deadly glow of radiation.

With Susan's help, he breaks into the locked greenhouse and discovers a bit more of Lovecraft's original story: a crop of really big plants. They see row upon row of unearthly vegetation bearing abnormally large fruit, growing, as Lovecraft wrote, "to phenomenal size and unwonted gloss." This Eden turns hellish as more screams are heard and Reinhart sees a radioactive glow under the closed door of the potting shed. Inside, the couple discovers a menagerie of deformed and distorted creatures, weird things that whimper, pant, and howl.

They quickly deduce that glowing stones are the source of the mutations. Reinhart thinks these smaller stones have been chipped from a larger one. As they ponder where that larger rock might be the plants come alive, wrapping vines around the already tight sweater of Ms. Witley, forcing Reinhart to bypass the angora and remove the pesky greenery instead.

Back at Witley Manor, Susan's sickly mother Letitia mutates into Lovecraft's description of Nabby Gardner, a woman on whom "something was fastening . . . that ought not to be." Letitia becomes a terrible screaming thing, "a blasphemous monstrosity," Lovecraft wrote, "(a) horror (that) moved as it continued to crumble."

A crumbled wife is too much even for Nahum, and he finally explains the mystery of Witley Manor. The radioactive stone is no random colour out of space, it is a thing sent by his father, the evil wizard Corbin: a curse, much like the curse of Curwen, meant to terrorize the town of Arkham.

Nahum had wanted to use the powers of Corbin's meteorite to make Arkham a paradise, a new Eden filled with giant fruit and greenery, but the unrelenting death and mutation it has brought finally makes him see the error of his ways.

The big glowing and humming space rock is kept in the Manor's cellar, hidden in a pit below a skull-shaped guillotine surrounded by primitive wall paintings of pentacles and devils.

As Nahum sets out to smash the meteorite, he's attacked and pushed onto the rock by the family's long-lost and very-mutated maid, Helga. In a genuinely creepy scene the "colour" that came out of space works its way inside Nahum's veins, illuminating them like an injection of alien barium.

Reinhart comes searching for Nahum and finds a series of handprints ominously glowing on the stone walls of the dark cellar. It becomes a radioactive blood trail leading to a completely transformed Nahum: a green and glowing aberration that looks like the spawn of Nosferatu, the Frankenstein Monster, and a roll of Reynolds Wrap, giving the aged Karloff one last opportunity to somewhat reprise his most-famous role.

The radioactive Witley shambles after Reinhart, but meets his doom by tumbling over the upstairs banister. Upon contact with the floor he bursts into sparkles and flames, motivation for yet another trademark AIP inferno.

The manor burns, and more importantly, so does the sinister portrait of old wizard Corbin who has been silently watching the proceedings from beyond, bringing this textbook example of the walking-around-endlessly-in-a-big-house school of filmmaking to a merciful end.