Oh, the many squirm-inducing pleasures of DAGON, the horror flick that ranks as my very favorite of the current century.
Picture, if you will, a vast undersea expanse, all sound muted by the water that envelops you as shafts of light from the distant surface provide scant illumination. You swim through this seemingly endless dreamlike environment, your movements slow and clumsy, body leaden with the weight of your scuba gear and aided by the beam of a flashlight. Suddenly, through the murky darkness you encounter an opening in the ocean’s floor that is clearly the skillfully crafted work of hands unknown, a wide portal that is at once ocular, oral and vaginal in its aspect. You swim into its yawning maw and curiously explore this tunnel leading to…where or what you cannot begin to fathom. Your hands explore the eerily striated walls of the portal, and as your fascinated gaze scans what lays before you, the pallid face of a beautiful, raven-tressed mermaid smiles up at you.
She swims into clear view and you marvel at her strange beauty as her thick hair swirls about her, borne by invisible currents and exposing her lovely, buoyant breasts. This nubile vision swims over, unafraid, and removes your facemask and re-breather’s mouthpiece. Your senses reel as she kisses you, deeply and passionately, and you don’t even notice you no longer require your heavy equipment to breathe, so caught up are you in the deep-sea maiden’s unexpected ardor.
Then, with a ravenous shriek, she bares a dental array that would give a piranha pause and you awaken with a start.
It was only a dream, but you have just awakened from a harbinger of an infinitely worse, living nightmare from which there is no hope of escape for you or the companions who accompanied you on what was meant to be a relaxing getaway on a chartered yacht off the coast of Spain. You have just entered the world of the fish-god Dagon, and you’re about to learn some dark and ancient truths that will affect you in ways you would never have expected.
That’s the basic setup for Stuart (RE-ANIMATOR) Gordon’s masterful H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, DAGON (2001), the hands down finest of the many cinematic translations of the author's famously creepy works, and it really took me and my buddy Chris by surprise when we rented it to watch during the Thanksgiving weekend some nine years ago. Things get boring as hell in Connecticut during Thanksgiving (more boring than usual, that is) so Chris and I annually search for some flicks with which to kill the time. We drove all over Fairfield County on the night after this particular Thanksgiving, hitting several DVD rental stores before nearly giving up after not finding anything that piqued our craving for any kind of diversion on film/DVD. Our last stop, at some obscure video store somewhere in Trumbull, yielded gold in the form of DOG SOLDIERS — an incredible werewolf movie that I may add to this list of flicks to discuss — and DAGON, and neither of us knew a damned thing about either film. Both turned out to be exceptional but it's DAGON that really got under my skin and it's the one I immediately recommend when asked for a horror movie recommendation. (That surprises most folks who know me since I'm an out, loud and proud werewolf advocate, but DAGON is so good that it overrules my natural affinity for my beloved lycanthropes.)
The story follows the waking nightmare a group of yachters, two couples, find themselves in when their vessel hits something off the coast of Spain and begins to sink. One couple remains on the boat while the other makes their way to the isolated fishing town of Imboca in search of help, only to discover that the place is populated by hideous human-marine life hybrids, the direct result of generations of human women bearing the children of the ancient fish-god Dagon. I will say no more other than to state that the male protagonist discovers some very dark truths during the course of the story and there's even a very weird climax that, from a certain perspective, could be considered a happy ending.
There's a lot — and I do mean A LOT — going on in the narrative and chief among its many malignant wonders (to my way of thinking, anyway) is Macarena Gomez as Uxia Cambarro, the beautiful large-eyed mermaid from the opening dream sequence.
In the dream she was every man's mermaid fantasy brought to alluring life but in the incredibly creepy reality of the remote fishing village of Imboca, she’s the wheelchair-bound high priestess of the evil oceanic god who gets his condomless hump on with mortal women, thus spawning the aforementioned race of human/sea monster hybrids.
Uxia’s clearly one of those creatures, but even though she boasts a pair of floppy, sucker-laden tentacles in place of a scaly fish tail (which she possessed in the opening dream sequence), to say nothing of the enormous, gasping gills on her ribcage, she’s got that wild-eyed-and-crazy look that I find irresistible. (Yeah, you could say I have some issues...)
Crazed, incestuous, sacrificial dagger-wielding evil half-breed or not, I’d love a taste of her saltwater charms. Plus, unlike a traditional mermaid, with Uxia you’ve got a pretty good idea of where the pussy is. Always a plus.
No bullshit, if you haven't seen DAGON, run out and rent it immediately. It's fairly low on gore and violence but it's got an appropriately high creep factor that translates the crawly, sticky/slimy feel of Lovecraft's tales of cross-species interbreeding to the screen, and getting across the flavor of his works had never been truly successful in the movies until this one. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.