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Tuesday April 16th 2024

Die, Monster, Die (Monster Of Terror) | 1965

After Roger Corman had just about exhausted adapting the works of Edgar Allan Poe, he planned to film the fantasies of HP Lovecraft. In the end, he only made The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward (totally studio-bound), sneakily re-titled Edgar Allan Poe's The Haunted Palace for obvious commercial reasons.

But while Corman was in England in the Sixties to film The Masque Of The Red Death and The Tomb Of Ligeia, his talented Art Director, Daniel Haller, responsible for the look of the stylish Poe films, came over too and directed this modest but atmospheric adaptation of Lovecraft's The Colour Out Of Space.

Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams, a pal of James Dean and one of the teens in Rebel Without A Cause) is the young American looking for his English fiancé only to find that her father is the strange Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff) and her mother Letitia (Freda Jackson) is not only bedridden but heavily veiled. This is not good news.

The setting of many of Lovecraft's stories is the fictional New England town of Arkham – a name later borrowed for the name of Gotham City's grim asylum. The film changes the setting to rural England, where 'Arkham' is the village of Shere, about five miles south-east of Guildford in Surrey.

The photogenic village is also seen in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger' classic A Matter of Life and Death; 1965 sci-fi The Earth Dies Screaming; savage satire The Ruling Class, with Peter O'Toole; and more recently in romcoms The Wedding Date (2005); and The Holiday (2006) with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jude Law.

St James's Church in Shere features briefly at the end of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

The Witley family home is the Victorian neo-Gothic Oakley Court, now the Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor Road, Water Oakley, near Maidenhead in Berkshire. Empty and decrepit for many years, Oakley Court adjoined Hammer Films' old Bray Studio headquarters and features in many Hammer features, but most famously as the castle of Frank'n'Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.