Die, Monster, Die! (Blu-ray Review)

Die-Monster-DieI always love how each decade seems to have its own approach and unique flavor to what was working with horror.  In the 1960s, the world of horror was engulfed stuff like the Hammer Horror films and the Corman Poe movies.  People seemed to gravitate to the gothic laced tales of older times.  This film Die, Monster, Die! (alternatively retitled as Monster Of Terror at some point) as fits right into that fold event though the setting seems to be taking place in something closer to representing a present day or not that far behind.  Horror legend and Frankenstein’s monster himself, Boris Karloff graces the screen here, and I’m sure that’s a prime reason why this one has been dug up and brought back to our attention by Scream Factory.

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American scientist Stephen Reinhart has been invited out to the home of his fiancée (Suzan Witley) family.  Upon arriving in town, the townsfolk are reluctant to help him get to the house and seem to fear the thought of it.  When he finally is able to get there, he meets her father, Nahum Witley.  Stephen quickly discovers that things are quite odd and there is a mystery afoot that Suzan’s father seems keen on keeping hidden.  After a haunting chat with Suzan’s ill and bedridden mother, Stephen is informed that Nahum is up to something and he must take Suzan far away from the house.  But it isn’t that simple as Stephen is bound and determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious happenings at the Witley estate.

From the outset, this film had the setup of your stereotypical Roger Corman-Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe movie.  It had that fiancée wandering into the strange home of his lover and meeting the strange head of household while discovering some sort of dark mystery is going on.  However, with this one the acting felt more like film acting and less like Shakespearian theatre.  The film has a twist that seems more out of a 50s B sci fi movie than supernatural horror, but aside from one moment it actually really works quite well in the end.

Like the Corman films I mentioned I really fell in love with all the set design and work on this film.  The house, dungeon, greenhouse and the creepy woods outside had some wonderfully spooky and gothic detail.  They never really looked like sets too as they were able to draw one in with their rich realism and sense of detail.  The setups and look added to some eeriness and discomfort in many scenes.  One highlight was when Stephen was conversing with Suzan’s mother as she lay in bed covered and distorted by a veil that surrounded her bed.  Its this and many other examples that had this film really working for me better than I expected considering the era and style of horror film from which this one came.

Boris Karloff is the whole reason we pick this one up, right?  I’m willing to give something as shot if it contains this legendary monster actor.  Here he plays the crippled Nahum Witley.  He balances the vile and misunderstood man quite well here.  He also gets one of his last spins at playing a monster in the final act of the film.  The guy got your attention and owned the screen every time he was on it.  His deceptive, mysterious nature behind his performance helped to add to the intrigue of a viewer watching the film wondering what it is themselves.

I found myself quite pleasantly surprised with Die, Monster, Die!  The film was working extremely well for me until the film’s ultimate plot twist, which I felt was too hokey and off from what the first 2/3 of the film was building up from.  I understand it’s a loose adaptation of a H.P. Lovecraft story, so maybe it was just them staying true to that.  But, it was really just that reveal scene I wasn’t big on as I accepted all that came after.  If you’re a fan of classic 60s horror, this one is a definite catch.  It’s got a terrific atmosphere, some ghoulish monsters and solid performances.

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Wow, I gotta say I was very impressed with the transfer on this one and I wasn’t expecting it at all.  The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding looked absolutely marvelous and it provided a very clear and sharp image of this relic from 1965.  There were a few, and I stress a few, instances where the print looked a little rough (or maybe was pieced in from a different print), but overall this thing is a beauty.  It features some instances of dirt and grain.  Detail is rather reasonable.  There is a nice sense of depth and dimension to this picture as well.  Skin tones and textures are detailed and consistent.  Those who pick this up are going to be surprised and really happy with the picture on this one.

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Die, Monster, Die!’s 2.0 DTS-HD MA track is pretty spotless and rather clean.  The dialogue is crisp and clear.  Sound effects are rather prominent and deliver, even carrying some scenes toward the end.  Music from the score is set a nice complimentary place in the track.  The volume is set at a very nominal level.  This is a very full and complete sounding track.

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On the reverse side of the cover art, there is some additional art and promotional photos from the film displayed.

Trailer (HD, 1:55)

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While scarce on the extras, don’t let that deter you from this release of Die, Monster, Die!  This is a pretty good 1960s horror film starring one of horror’s legends.  Scream Factory has brought it to Blu-ray with an outstanding presentation that will absolutely catch you off guard from what I’m sure your expectations for this one are.  It’s also currently running at a more than reasonable price for a rarer cult movie from cinema’s past.  If you picked up the Vincent Price Collection from Scream Factory last October, you’re definitely going to want to have this one in your collection as it feels right in tune with most of the films in that set.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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