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When American Steve Reinhart (Nick Adams) arrives at the Witley's mansion
somewhere in rural England, he is given a rather cold reception by Nahum Witley
(Boris Karloff), the family's patriarch, who doesn't like visitors in general,
but is welcomed with open arms by Susan (Suzan Farmer), his girlfirend from
their days at the university, who even introduces Steve to her mother Letitia
(Freda Jackson). Letitia however appears to be bedridden, terminally ill &
furthermore horribly disfigured, & she pleads Steve to take her daughter away
with him ... a plea that is declined by both Nahum & Susan herself, who
refuses to leave her mother behind with her overpowering father.
Soon though Steve has to find out not everything is alright in the mansion,
actually something mysterious, sinister is definitely going on, as weird noises
are heard during dinner but Nahum is pretending not to notice them, Nahum is
pretty secretive about several rooms of the mansion - & then the butler
Mervyn (Terence de Marney) dies at the dinner table. But what arouses Steve's
suspicions even more is that Nahum refuses to call a doctor (or in fact any
kind of authority) to Mervyn's corpse, instead buries him in the garden himself
- despite his age & the fact that he has only limited mobility with his
wheelchair. And then there's some glowing light coming out of the greenhouse
The next day, on his way to visit the local doctor (Patrick Magee), Steve is
attacked by a horribla disfigured woman, & from the doctor himself he only
learns facts that seem to confirm his worst suspicions ... that there's
something otherworldly going on within Witley mansion's confines ...
That night Steve & Susan set out to investigate the secret of the
greenhouse, & find it full of supersized plants & horribly mutated
beasts. They find out that these mutations & the super-growth are caused by
some kind of stone, & figure the main fraction of this stone must still be
in the mansion's cellar (don'T ask why, at this point the movie has lost me),
but while they still try to plan their next steps, Susan is attacked by the
plants - he-man Steve saves her however.
Far from being intimidated from these attacking plants, Steve & Susan
return to the mansion, & Steve goes looking for the stone (that turns out
to be a meteorite) while Susan does the womanly thing & goes packing.
When Steve wants to destroy the meteorite though he is stopped by Nahum, who
still believes that all mankind will some day benefit from the meteorite's
powers, it is only when Letuitia, herself under the spell of the stone, attacks
Nahum, Steve & Susan, that Nahum sees reason & agrees to destroy the
meteorite himself. However when doing so, he is attacked by Helga, the first
person affected by the meteorite, & now its sole defendeer, as it seems,
& pushed into the stone ... at which point he becomes a metallic meteor-man
& goes after Steve & Susan, however a push down some balcony makes
him go up in flames ... & the mansion with him.
After Roger Corman had made the last 2 pictures of AIP's
Poe-cycle (The Masque of
the Red Death, The Tomb of Ligeia) in England, his art-director
Daniel Haller stayed behind to direct Die, Monster, Die !, based on a story by
H.P.Lovecraft, a film that resembles in mood & looks very much these Poe-adaptations,
however it cannot compete with them on a quality level.
On the surface, this movie is stylishly & atmospherically directed,
however this cannot disguise the silly story (a silly story in itself not
necessarily a bad thing) & dull storytelling. What's more, while the always
dependable Boris Karloff turns in another fine performance, Nick Adams &
Suzan Farmer make an unimpressive leading couple, not at all helped by the
terrible characterizations written for them: Actually their characters fall
into gender-specific clichés lonly rarely found this side of the 50's - Nick
Adams is the he-man who keeps a cool head in every situation & orders Suzan
Farmer around with phrases like "You stay behind !", "Go
to your room !" or "Pack your things, we are leaving", while
Suzan Farmer has nothing better to do than staying behind, packing her things,
telling Nick Adams to "Be careful !", & reacting to almost
everything with "Oh that's terrible !". That their characters seem
pretty much unfazed by whatever happens to them (e.g. in one scene Suzan Farmer
is attacked by supersized plants, pretty much enough to drive a normal human
being over the brink, in the next scene she very calmly packs her belongings)
doesn't help one bit either.