The Dunwich Horror
Written by Curtis Hanson, Henry Rosenbaum, & Ronald Silkosky
Directed by Daniel Haller
Based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft
Wilbur Whately...Dean Stockwell
Dr. Henry Armitage...Ed Begley
Nancy Wagner...Sandra Dee
Elizabeth Hamilton...Donna Baccala
Wilbur Whately, a soft-spoken and eccentric young man, arrives at the hallowed halls of Miskatonik University, hoping to get his hands on that rarest of rare books on display in the school library--the Necronomicon. He only manages to get a few moments alone with this book o' magic before stuffy old philosopher professor Henry Armitage puts a stop to it.
Wilbur's mysterious and nefarious plans are too important to let go so easily, though, so he convinces Nancy, one of Armitage's pretty assistants, to give him a ride home to the small town of Dunwich. She enjoys Wilbur's company and the sights of Dunwich so much that she decides, what the hell, I'll stay the weekend.
Wilbur is a man of many secrets, though. His talk about an ancient race of dark and powerful creatures is more than just folklore, the Necronomicon contains more than just chocolate chip cookie recipes, and his plans for Nancy include more than just a roll in the hay.
Although this adaptation fails to fully capture the moodiness, gloominess, and downright doominess of the H.P. Lovecraft story upon which it is based, it's still a lot of fun. Seeing Dean Stockwell in a rare leading role is worth the price of admission alone. The man is a solid, cool character actor who never got the respect or the number of roles that he deserved. He hams it up a bit here and there, but this is an AIP production, so that's to be expected.
If nothing else, it's interesting to see Lovecraft filtered through the trippy lens of sleazy, teasy late-60s, early-70s cinema. Worth a watch.