American-Spanish horror film, released in 2001. It was directed by Stuart Gordon, with a screenplay by Dennis Paoli, based on "The Shadow over Innsmouth" by H.P. Lovecraft. Stars include Ezra Godden as Paul Marsh, Francisco Rabel as Ezequiel, Raquel Merono as Barbara, Macarena Gomez as Uxia, Brendan Price as Howard, Birgit Bofarull as Vicki, and Ferran Lahoz as the priest.

Fans of Lovecraft's stories have always had slim pickings when it came to movies based on HPL's work. Usually stuck watching mediocre to sub-par flicks that take little inspiration from the Master's writing, like "Die, Monster, Die!", "The Haunted Palace", "The Dunwich Horror", "The Crimson Cult", and "The Unnamable", fans have learned to embrace films like Lovecraft-faithful movies like "The Resurrected", Sorta-Lovecraftian-but-still-way-fun movies like "Re-Animator", and Not-Lovecraftian-at-all-but-damn-they-got-the-mood-right movies like "In the Mouth of Madness" -- mainly because there's just nothing else out there.

Director Gordon and producer Brian Yuzna have something of a mad-on for Lovecraft. They were responsible for both "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond", based on Lovecraft stories, and they've been working for years on bringing a big-budget adaptation of "The Shadow over Innsmouth", with big stars galore and creature effects designed by Berni Wrightson and Dick Smith, to the big screen.

"Dagon" has no big stars and only a small budget, and the reviews in the mainstream press have been middling to poor. But it's definitely not a failure. It's not completely faithful to its source material--numerous characters are changed or added, the location is shifted from Innsmouth, Massachusetts to a small coastal town in Spain (mainly because most of the cash for the flick was raised in Spain), and great heaping gobs of nudity and gore are added to the mix. But for Lovecraft fans, "Dagon" has it goin' on.

We start out following bespectacled and nightmare-plagued Paul Marsh and his friends aboard a small yacht. A sudden storm blows their boat onto some rocks, so Paul and his girlfriend Barbara take a lifeboat to a nearby town to get help for their injured friends. They discover a ramshackle, decaying town, a sinister church, oddly-deformed citizens who never seem to blink, and lots and lots (and lots and lots) (and lots) of rain. As Paul runs from the croaking, braying townspeople, he runs into few allies (the almost unintelligible Esquivel and the beautiful but ominously unblinking Uxia), collides with far, far too many enemies, and discovers more secrets than he'll ever be comfortable with.

What Gets Done Right: atmosphere, first and foremost. The omnipresent rain and darkness, coupled with the filthy, decaying town, keep the spooky, Lovecraftian mood going perfectly. (It rains almost constantly in this movie. I had to check my carpet for water damage after the film was over.) The acting, especially from Godden, is also pretty good. In fact, the character of Paul Marsh--limping, fumbling with his glasses, screwing things up over and over and over--is also a definite keeper. The special effects and makeup are generally low-tech prosthetics, thank Azathoth. The few computerized effects are completely unconvincing. Oh, and Paul wears a Miskatonic University T-shirt. A minor detail, but it makes all the Lovecraft geeks go "Awwww, yeah."

What Gets Done Wrong: the accents are often irritating and distracting, especially Esquivel's. He has huge chunks of exposition to deliver, but it's almost impossible to understand anything he says. Like I said before, the computer effects are bad. There's at least one giant plot hole concerning why Esquivel has been able to spend the last 75 years in Evil Monster Fish Town without being killed or turning into a fishman himself.

Should you watch it? If you don't have a high tolerance for blood and gore or gratuitous nudity, you might better give this one a pass. If you don't enjoy horror movies, especially low-budget B-movies, give it a pass.

If you're a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, go see it now.

Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)