DAGON BLU RAY REVIEW (VESTRON VIDEO COLLECTOR’S SERIES)

Dagon (aKa Dagon: La Secta del Mar) is a 2001 horror film directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, & Castle Freak). It’s from the same creative team that brought the world Re-Animator which includes writer Dennis Paoli (The Dentist 1/2, Ghoulies II, Body Snatchers, & Meridian) & producer Brian Yuzna (Warlock, The Guyver, Return of the Living Dead III, & Necronomicon: Book of Dead). It’s based off two short stories from H.P. Lovecraft Dagon & The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It took almost 16 years to get made. It was a Spanish co-production with Flmax & it was released theatrically over there.

Stock market tycoon Paul Marsh (played by: Ezra Godden from Band of Brothers, Masters of Horror, & Laura) has a nightmare of a a mermaid with razor sharp teeth. Paul wakes up on his boat off the shores of Spain. He’s on vacation with his girlfriend Barbara (played by: Raquel Meroño from Beneath Still Waters, The Mark, Airbag, & Yo soy Bea) plus their friends Vicki (played by: Birgit Bofarull from The Deal & Second Name) & Howard (played by: Brendan Price from Doctor Who, Target, The Nun, & Exorcismus). A storm causes some problems for the friends so they have to split up. Vicki & Howard are missing, Paul goes to Imboca. He meets a old drunk named Ezequiel (played by: Francisco Rabal from Eye of the Cat, Sorcerer, Lola, & Goya in Bordeaux) there. He tells the stranger about the history of the town. After going around this unfamiliar place trying to find a way to escape Paul runs into Uxia Cambarro (played by: Macarena Gómez from The Horror Network, Witching and Bitching, Shrew’s Nest, & Boy Missing). He is caught so he ends up reunited with Vicki, Ezequiel, & Barbara. He is forced to battle & survive against a village full of Dagon worshipers including a vengeful priest Sacerdote (played by: Ferran Lahoz from The Machinist, Faust, The Lost, & Stigmata). As he gets deeper into this dark universe he starts become seduced by it’s mysterious ways. Can he leave before he’s trapped forever?

Dagon doesn’t really get as much love or notice as the other H.P. Lovecraft adaptations but it definitely stands out on it’s own. I will say it’s a little slower than some of his other material but when it picks up it gets batshit crazy so it’s worth the wait! Producer Brian Yuzna made this film during his Spanish co-production deal with Filmax so it does have that unique style to it. It’s also has a lower budget compared to his previous productions but the cast & crew made up for that in skill. The cinematography is beautiful & the whole look of the production grabs your attention from the start. It has a real dark atmosphere to it. The special effects were well made & used at the right moments during this. Horror fans will be pleased with the nightmarish visuals. Stuart Gordon delivered another quality H.P. Lovecraft film in a different setting. He really shows off his talent because he didn’t have any of the same crew or cast as the others that elevated those features from it’s surroundings. It’s also more straight forward & true to the original source material compared to previous version with more comedy & camp added to them. Recommended to any Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish, & Fish horror fans!!!!

Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Lionsgate! This 1080p (1.78:1) transfer blows away the previous 2002 DVD release! It has so much going on visually & the atmosphere is top notch. It won’t be one of your reference quality discs when it comes to your collection but it’s a huge upgrade from before. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track helps move along the excitement & thrills from the feature. It’s also an improvement from the other U.S. release. Dagon got amazing treatment for being such a small film on this brand new blu ray. It includes English SDH & Spanish subtitles.

Let’s discuss the special features from Lionsgate on this Vestron Video release! Audio Commentary with director Stuart Gordon & screenwriter Dennis Paoli. They talk about the two short stories from H.P. Lovecraft that inspired this feature. They bring up that the original outline for this was written in 1985 & it was supposed to originally follow Re-Animator instead of From Beyond. They mention some of the ideas that were changed from the first draft of the script from back in the day. They go into detail about the characters & screenplay for this production. They chat about the cast & crew for Dagon. They talk about the bad weather conditions when they were filming this. They bring up how little music is used in this feature. They talk about the transformation that the main character Paul goes through during this production. Audio Commentary # 2 with with director Stuart Gordon & lead actor Ezra Godden. Stuart Gordon jokes that Ezra Godden’s real voice sounds nothing like him in the film. They talk about stunt performers refusing to work in the weather but no one else had a problem with it. Stuart Gordon says this is the wettest movie ever made. Ezra Godden chats about his character in this. He talks about how he worked with actors that didn’t speak the same language as him. They joke about their experience on the film. They bring up the special effects for it. It’s really different from the previous audio track so it’s cool to have an alternative option for this film. They have fun at the end & say they are doing a Dagon 2 sequel. “Gods & Monsters” is a little over 22 minute interview with director Stuart Gordan with filmmaker Mick Garris.  Gordan says this is version of the Little Mermaid as he jokes around. He talks about how he translates H.P. Lovecraft’s work so well on screen. He says no one in America including Charles Band wanted to produce Dagon that’s why it became a Spanish production. He brings up the locations & the rough shooting conditions. He chats about working with a Spanish cast & crew. He brings up one of his favorite memories from the whole experience. Stuart Gordan  jokes that H.P. Lovecraft wouldn’t have liked him in real life. He mentions his work on Masters of Horror with it’s creator.

“Shadows Over Imboca” is an almost 20 minute interview with producer Briam Yuzna. He says they originally wanted to use the same cast as Re-Animator for this back in the day. He mentions that no major studio wanted to do a film about Fish People & they struggled to get this project made for a long time. He got this made by promising Bride of Re-Animator. He mentions barely showing the monster here. He goes into financing & using foreign actors. He says Dagon was misunderstood during it’s release & it’s the most faithful Lovecraft adaptation. “Fish Stories”is a 18 minute interview with I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft author S.T. Joshi.  He says Lovecraft loved the ocean but he hated seafood. He gives a brief history of the original short story that inspired the feature. He brings up the other short story that was included in this production. He talks about the change of setting from the original source material. He says the director took a more serious approach to this compared to his other adaptations. He mentions how Lovecraft hasn’t had a mainstream film made yet. He brings up that the author wasn’t a big fan of a cinema back then. A little over 21 minutes of “Archival Interviews” with director Stuart Gordon, producer Julio Fernández, actress Raquel Meroño, lead actor Ezra Godden, & actor Francisco Rabal. They all talk about their experience on Dagon. It also shows behind the scenes footage. Some of the actors are not speaking English so they are subtitled. 27 minute “Vintage EPK Featurette”. It features interviews with director Stuart Gordon, lead actor Ezra Godden, actress Macarena Gómez, & actress Raquel Meroño. They go into detail about their work on this film & cover various subjects about the project. 9 minutes of ” Conceptual Art Gallery” from artist Richard Raaphorst. 9 minutes of “Still Gallery” featuring various photos from the film. Last but not last, you get a “Theatrical Trailer” for Dagon. It also comes with a limited edition slipcover. Lionsgate once again KILLS it with this Vestron Video line, this release is LOADED! It’s available everywhere this Tuesday, check it out!!!!