TERRY SHERWOOD takes a look at Die Monster Die! 1965, one of Boris Karloff’s last great roles
TITLE: Die Monster Die! aka Monster of Terror
YEAR RELEASED: 1965
DIRECTOR: Daniel Haller
CAST: Boris Karloff, Nick Adams and Freda Jackson
Die Monster Die! 1965 Review
Just when you think you have watched a good number of Boris Karloff Film work, something gets up from the lab table and waves “here I am” or growls for recognition. Die Monster Die! 1965 was one of those pictures that I thought I saw but did not.
The latter part of Karloff’s career sadly blends all into one for me as the scientist gone wrong. They are almost like those days of the “Poverty Row” scientist features that so many of these stars got trapped in late on.
Horror film-making in the mid-sixties was different. You had the “Teenage Drive in” culture being mined for their money with hot rod films, beach movies, radioactive monsters and, of course, horror films.
Daniel Haller directed Die Monster Die! with Boris Karloff, Nick Adams, Hammer Alumni Freda Jackson, and soon-to-be Hammer, in her first role is the lovely Suzan Farmer. The film which attempts to put the H. P. Lovecraft story “The Colour out of Space” as inspiration would be one of the many to follow successfully or not.
What distinguishes Die Monster Die! 1965 from some of the other Lovecraftian adaptions to come was a subdued Boris Karloff.
Karloff still had it in Die Monster Die!
The man could still do a professional job from a wheelchair and with a brief movement that I am sure was difficult. The voice, the manners, the menace were all still there, plus the commitment to the work.
I mention commitment because leading man romantic lead Nick Adams in the role of Stephen Reinhardt, an American scientist who travels to Arkham, is as wooden as the bookcases in the library.
Adams, who perhaps was being tested as a new romantic leading man, does not do well.
In the opening moments of the picture, he arrives in England to visit his fiancée, Susan Witley (Susan Farmer), whom he met while she was in the United States.
He battles some rather folksy villagers who refuse to rent him transportation or give directions, only to walk to the shunned Witley estate. There he meets Nahum (Boris Karloff) who coldly wants him to leave. Susan persuades her Father that Stephan should stay with Susan’s bedridden mother, Letitia, (under-used Freda Jackson) welcoming him.
Shades out of The Fall of The House of Usher where the mystery deepens with land that is blackened and things do not grow. The screams in the night, a glowing greenhouse hiding plants that grow to prodigious heights to a butler that suddenly drops dead. We linked this all with something in the greenhouse that glows.
Something so terrible that it has frightened a village destroyed a family, and created some genuinely horrific creatures in cages. Sparks fly, of course, between all parties and like The Invisible Ray (1936) things happen.
‘Good pace with a routine story’
Film-wise, Die Monster Die! 1965 has a good pace with a routine story.
The screenplay gives Boris Karloff’s role of the domineering father plenty of time to screen to use that voice and face. One odd moment is he appears to move in his wheelchair with surprising speed in chase moments, even when going from floor to floor with an elevator that he lifts himself.
Nick Adams tries hard yet delivers a one-note performance even when befuddled by the mystery. Susan Farmer in her film debut is cheery if not naïve in happenings. Their romantic moments seem rather stilted in performance.
Mind you, love is blind even when facing a mysterious evolutionary force. Freda Jackson gets confined behind curtains until she gets to rampage.
The picture wastes Terence De Marney in the butler’s role who sports sunglasses like Vincent Price in Tomb of Ligeia (1964), mutters some words, does faithful bidding, and then drops dead.
Who does almost steal the show is Patrick Magee as whisky drinking Dr. Henderson, who reluctantly imparts more of the story to the star-crossed lovers.
Die Monster Die! 1965 was shown as part of a double bill with Bava’s excellent Planet of Vampires 1965 in America and The Haunted Palace 1963 in the UK.
The picture is remarkable for a Boris Karloff late-career curio and the horrific ‘monsters” that have been augmented by the strange alien force.
Have you seen Die Monster Die! 1965? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!