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Dustin Putman



Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Die, Monster, Die!  (1965)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: January 21, 2014) – Based on the 1927 short story "The Colour Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft, "Die, Monster, Die!" is a sci-fi/horror/cautionary tale, a step-cousin of sorts to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and the works (during this era) of Vincent Price. American science student Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) arrives in the British town of Arkham to visit his girlfriend, Susan (Suzan Farmer). Denied a ride at the train station when he tells the cabby he's headed to the Witley Manor, Stephen walks himself to the gated property and is promptly given a frosty welcome by Susan's wheelchair-bound father, Nahum (Boris Karloff). It takes all of five minutes to realize something strange is going on and not everyone he meets is to be trusted. The maid has mysteriously disappeared. A spectral woman in black prowls the property. In the basement chambers, Nahum is working on a science experiment that may be affecting and infecting the surrounding vegetation and animals. Stephen and Susan set out to investigate the goings-on, but the threat encroaching upon them is more dastardly than they could have possibly imagined.

"Die, Monster, Die!" is one of those B-movies that keeps yearning to break out to higher plateaus, but never quite makes it. The special effects range from tacky to ahead of their time depending upon the moment, while a few sequences of tension (including a chase through the house involving Susan's mother and a scene or two where the woman shrouded in black stalks the protagonists) feel like purveyors of the slasher/giallo films of the 1970s and '80s. Alas, the story is a big hodgepodge, not quite locating the focus and narrative drive it should, and the characters are little more than stock figures. It's never scary enough or arresting enough, stuck between the old-fashioned and modern without fully embracing either approach.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound
 A-/B+

"Die, Monster, Die!" has some unsightly lines and specks dotting the frame in the opening minutes as the credits play, and these age spots show up throughout whenever there is an effects shot or matte painting filling the screen. The rest of the 1080p digital transfer—the bulk of it—is revelatory when one considers its age and low-budget roots. The bold color scheme, from the plants in the greenery to Nahum's cavernous lab to Susan's violet sweater, positively radiate of the screen without getting too hot or oversaturated. Black levels are well-resolved overall, with only the rare hint of fade, and other dirt is minor. All in all, "Die, Monster, Die!" looks wonderful. The lossless Mono Audio Master is undoubtedly true to source, despite a certain hollow boxiness to some of the dialogue. Nevertheless, it is always clear and the music score impresses doubly, particularly during the opening titles sequence and the fiery finale.

Blu-ray Features
Theatrical Trailer (1:55, HD)

Bottom Line
Fans of schlocky horror cinema and vintage catalogue releases which otherwise might have never seen the light of day should take note of "Die, Monster, Die!" It isn't going to be mistaken for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" anytime soon, but there is a definite place and market for all-but-forgotten movies of this generation and ilk. Once more, Scream Factory ought to be applauded for their dedication in giving a home to these films. For certain viewers—and they know who they are—"Die, Monster, Die!" is worth seeking out.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman