Dagon (Spanish: Dagon, la secta del mar) is a 2001 Spanish horror film directed by Stuart Gordon and written by Dennis Paoli. It is loosely based on H. P. Lovecraft's short story Dagon (1919) and his 1931 novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The film takes place in "Imboca", a Spanish adaptation of "Innsmouth".[1] The film marked the last role of Francisco Rabal who died two months before its release.

Spanish theatrical release poster
SpanishDagon, la secta del mar
Directed byStuart Gordon
Screenplay byDennis Paoli
Produced byCarlos Fernández
Julio Fernández
Miguel Torrente
Brian Yuzna
StarringEzra Godden
Francisco Rabal
Raquel Meroño
Edited byJaume Vilalta
Music byCarles Cases
Distributed byFilmax International
Release date
  • 12 October 2001 (2001-10-12) (Sitges)
Running time
98 minutes
  • English
  • Galician
  • Spanish
Box office212,699 (es)

Plot edit

Paul Marsh dreams of encountering a mermaid with razor-sharp teeth while exploring an underwater cave. He awakens on a boat off the shores of Spain, where he is vacationing with his girlfriend Barbara and their friends Vicki and Howard. A sudden storm blows their boat against the rocks, pinning Vicki against the bed and flooding the boat. While Howard stays with her, Paul and Barbara take the lifeboat to the nearby fishing town of Imboca. During their absence, an unseen water creature attacks Howard and Vicki.

Barbara and Paul venture through the seemingly deserted town and reach the church. There, they convince a priest to help them. Two fishermen at the docks volunteer to take one of them back to the boat. While Paul goes with the fishermen, Barbara stays to find a phone and call for help.

After failing to find either Howard or Vicki, Paul goes to the hotel where Barbara supposedly stays, but she isn't there. He waits for her in an old, filthy hotel room, where he dreams of the mermaid again. Awakened by a large gathering of strange, fish-like people approaching the hotel, he is forced to flee. Hiding inside a tannery, Paul discovers Howard's skinned corpse. He escapes the tannery by starting a fire and finds momentary safety with an old drunkard named Ezequiel, the last full-blooded human in Imboca.

Ezequiel explains that, many years before, the village fell on lean times. Captain Orpheus Cambarro (based on captain Obed Marsh) convinced the locals to worship Dagon rather than the Christian God. Orpheus's first offerings to Dagon brought Imboca enormous wealth in the form of fish and gold. This caused the locals to make him the high priest of the Church of Dagon, helping him dismantle the local Catholic church and killing the priest to establish the church in Dagon's honor (based on the Esoteric Order of Dagon). However, Dagon soon demanded blood sacrifices and human women to breed with, which the villagers and Cambarro blindly complied. Ezequiel's father and mother, who resisted Orpheus' heretical practice, ended up as sacrifices. Over time, the people of Imboca began to die off, leaving only the half-fish descendants of Dagon. They kidnap unsuspecting visitors to either breed or sacrifice to Dagon. Ezequiel could only watch the village go to ruin and lament the villagers' foolishness in worshiping a demon for short-lived prosperity.

Paul begs Ezequiel to help him escape. Ezequiel takes Paul to the Mayor's manor, so he can steal the town's only car belonging to Xavier Cambarro, Orpheus's grandson. Paul sneaks into the car and tries to hot-wire it, but accidentally honks the horn. Cornered, he flees into the manor and finds a beautiful woman named Uxia, the mermaid from his dreams. She saves him and urges him to stay, but when he finds that instead of legs Uxia has tentacles, he flees in horror. Paul successfully starts the car and drives away, but ends up crashing.

Paul is captured and thrown into a barn, where he is reunited with Vicki, Ezequiel, and Barbara. The three plan to escape, but the attempt is foiled. The traumatized Vicki, having been impregnated by Dagon, kills herself. Paul and Ezequiel are chained up in a butchery and offered the last chance to worship Dagon, which they refuse. Paul apologizes to Ezequiel, who thanks Paul for helping him to remember his parents. Paul helplessly watches as the cult flays Ezequiel alive while reciting the 23rd Psalm together.

Uxia talks down the cult and saves Paul. He offers to stay in exchange for Barbara's release, but Uxia insists that Barbara must bear Dagon's child. When Paul seems to concede, Uxia tells the priest of Dagon to make arrangements for their marriage. After Uxia leaves, Paul kills the guards and the priest and escapes.

When Paul reaches the church, he discovers a hidden passage leading to an underground ritual chamber. As a congregation of Imbocans watches, Uxia offers Barbara to Dagon, lowering her into a deep pit leading to the sea. Paul sets several cultists on fire and winches Barbara back up. Barbara, having lost her mind to Dagon, begs him to kill her. As Paul refuses, large tentacles emerge, tear her from the winch dismembering her arms, and drag her down the pit.

The uninjured Imbocans attack Paul, but are halted by Uxia and a monstrously deformed Imbocan, who is revealed to be Xavier Cambarro, Uxia and Paul's father. Uxia explains that Paul's human mother escaped from Imboca years ago after being impregnated by Xavier, but now that Paul has returned, he will be her lover and they will dwell with Dagon forever. Trapped and shocked that he has been an abomination all along, Paul sets himself on fire. Uxia grabs him and dives into the water, where the horribly disfigured Paul sprouts gills. With no options left, Paul embraces his fate and follows Uxia down into Dagon's undersea lair.

Cast edit

  • Ezra Godden as Paul Marsh / Pablo Cambarro
  • Francisco Rabal as Ezequiel
  • Raquel Meroño as Barbara
  • Macarena Gómez as Uxía Cambarro
  • Brendan Price as Howard
  • Birgit Bofarull as Vicki
  • Uxía Blanco as Ezequiel's mother
  • Ferran Lahoz as Priest
  • Joan Minguell as Xavier Cambarro
  • Alfredo Villa as Captain Orpheus Cambarro
  • José Lifante as desk clerk
  • Javier Sandoval as Ezequiel's father
  • Victor Barreira as young Ezequiel
  • Fernando Gil as Catholic priest
  • Jorge Luis Pérez as Boy

Production edit

The film is a Castelao Produccions, Estudios Picasso and Fantastic Factory production.[2] Asked if it was difficult to convince Raquel Meroño that she was going to be shackled and dangled nude by force as part of her role, Stuart Gordon said, "She had never done a nude scene before. She's a big television star in Spain, so for her to do this was very brave, and also very physically demanding. It's not easy for a woman to let her 2 wrists and 2 ankles be handcuffed by 4 brutal fish monsters and to be winched naked through the air in front of the entire production [3]

Release edit

Theatrical edit

Dagon was released theatrically in Spain on November 8, 2001; opening in 117 theaters, ranking #20 on the charts on its opening weekend where it grossed $101,273 averaging at $860. The film would later gross $43,773 bringing its total to $145,046, or €212,699 in Spanish currency.[4]

Home media edit

Dagon was released on DVD by Lionsgate on July 23, 2002 and later that same year by Metrodome on October 7. The film was last released on DVD by Prism on February 2, 2004.[5] On April 8, 2018, it was announced that the film would be released for the first time on Blu-ray, as a part of a collector's series by Vestron Video.[6] This version was later released on July 24 that same year.[5]

Reception edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, Dagon holds an approval rating of 69% based on 13 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 5.9/10.[7]

Marjorie Baumgarten from Austin Chronicle gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, calling it "horror so extreme that it borders on camp", further stating that it was "hampered by some clunky scripting [...] and middling performances."[8] AllMovie gave the film a slightly positive review, writing, "Though it's not perfect, Lovecraft fans will most likely be willing to forgive Dagon's shortcomings in favor of a film that obviously shows great respect and appreciation for its source materials."[9] KJ Doughton of Film Threat rated the film 3 out of 5 stars, writing, "While not a perfect movie, Dagon crams its wild, over-the-top concepts down our throats with so much conviction that we can't help but get swept along for the ride."[10] Scott Tobias from The A.V. Club gave the film a mostly positive review, commending the film's first half, which he felt "came alive" through its suggestive gothic ambiance. and "well-placed jolts of violence". However, Tobias criticized the film's third act, which he felt downplayed the film's "distinctive flavor to ritualized nudity and gore".[11] Ain't It Cool News gave the film a positive review, praising the film's atmosphere, tone, setting, and darker themes when compared to other adaptations of the author's works.[12] HorrorNews.net criticized the film's low-budget special effects, and occasionally "hammy" acting. However, the reviewer concluded by stating, "Dagon comes across with a low budget, but it has a big heart and kind of a big bite to go with it."[13] Nick Hartel from DVD Talk praised the film, calling it director Gordon's all-time best work, and the best Lovecraft adaptation.[14] Reviewing the 2007 film Cthulhu, another adaptation of Lovecraft's story, Nick Pinkerton of LA Weekly stated that Dagon remained the better adaptation of the story.[15]

In their book Lurker in the Lobby: The Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft, Andrew Migliore and John Strysik write that "Gordon nicely creates the decayed humanity of Lovecraft's Innsmouth" but also that the film's "relentlessness" is "draining and numbing." They conclude: "Dagon is a dark story well told, but for some Lovecraft lovers, it may be a fish that should have gotten away."[16]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "The shadow over Galicia: H.P. Lovecraft's obsessions resurface in the film adaptation of Dagon (2001)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-01-23. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  2. ^ "Dagon: la secta del mar". El Mundo. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  3. ^ "Stuart Gordon: The Re-Animator Speaks!". www.digitallyobsessed.com. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Dagon: La Secta Del Mar". Box Office Mojo.com. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Dagon (2001) - Stuart Gordon". AllMovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  6. ^ Sprague, Mike (8 April 2018). "Stuart Gordon's Modern Adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's Dagon Hits Blu-ray This July! - Dread Central". Dread Central.com. Mike Sprague. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Dagon (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Flixer. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  8. ^ Baumgarten, Marjorie (28 June 2002). "Dagon". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  9. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Dagon (2001) - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  10. ^ Doughten, K. J. (13 July 2002). "Dagon". filmthreat.com. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  11. ^ Tobias, Scott (29 July 2002). "Dagon (DVD)". film.avclub.com. Scott Tobias. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  12. ^ "DAGON review". Aintitcool.com. HeadGeek. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  13. ^ "Film Review: Dagon (2001)". HorrorNews.net. Killion. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  14. ^ Hartel, Nick. "Dagon (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray". DVD Talk.com. Nick Hartel. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  15. ^ Pinkerton, Nick (20 August 2008). "Movie Reviews: The Rocker, The House Bunny, Death Race". LAWeekly.com. Nick Pinkerton. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  16. ^ Migliore, Andrew; Strysik, John (February 1, 2006). Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft. Night Shade Books. ISBN 978-1892389350.

External links edit