Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Lovecraft on Film Appendum:
The Credits Out of Space

One of the only aspects of Daniel Haller’s Die Monster Die! that really stays true to the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft’s source text is the extraordinary credits sequence, which seemingly uses lurid gel lighting and clouds of slow motion gas to create the impression of swirling, deep space vistas of some vast and unguessable variety.

The quasi-psychedelic flavour of the opening sequences appended to AIP’s early '60s horror films often seem slightly ahead of their time, and this is definitely one of my favourite examples of the form, directly mirroring the kind of effects utilised in the LSD-inspired light shows that were just beginning to splutter into existence within the underground rock scenes in San Francisco and New York at around the  time ‘Die Monster Die!’ was in cinemas.

I particularly like the way that, if you enlarge and study any of these screengrabs, your eyes will tend to focus on small specks of print damage that look almost like tiny lone astronauts, adrift amid the unfathomable gulfs of infinity. And when the filmmakers eventually use a Bond-style circular ‘wipe’ to stake us straight from these mysterious interstellar visions to the quaint putterings of a small English railway station, the effect is splendidly disorientating.

I wish I could tell you who was responsible for this sequence with any degree of certainty, but unfortunately the film’s credits are, ironically, somewhat vague on the subject of their creator.

According to an entry on IMDB, no less a figure than Hammer special effects man Les Bowie was responsible for “titles (uncredited)”. I don’t know if that means he was single-handedly responsible for the entire sequence, but if so - nice one Les! It certainly must have made a change from checking that the cuts on Peter Cushing’s forehead match up between shots.

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