Dagon is a 2001 horror movie directed by Stuart Gordon and written by Dennis Paoli. Despite the title, the plot is actually based on H. P. Lovecraft's novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1932) rather than his earlier short story titled Dagon (1919).
Two young American tourists
, Barbara and Paul, seek help in a small town called Imboca on the coast of Galicia
after their boat becomes shipwrecked
. However, the inhabitants turn out to be far from friendly, and, as they discover, not even human, apart from a drunken tramp
named Ezequiel. This latter (played by veteran Spanish actor Francisco Rabal
- in what turned out to be his last role), tells Paul how the denizens of the town have overthrown Christianity
in favour of the fish god Dagon
, who has brought them wealth from the sea. Since that time they have mutated into fish-like forms and are in obedience to the beautiful mermaid-like Uxia. Eerily she has appeared to Paul in his dreams
even before they meet and she saves him from being murdered by the locals. However, her plans for him, and for Barbara, unleash horror beyond all imagination. Ultimatly Barbara is sacrificed to Dagon and Paul learns from Uxia that he is in fact her brother. Their father apparently at some point was a normal human (although he's one of the creatures now) and was with Paul's mother. Paul and Uxia have different mothers but the same father. Uxia refers to Paul as her brother and her lover. Paul tries to burn himself to death, but Uxia knocks him into the water where he gets gills on his torso and accepting his fate, goes with Uxia.
The plot presents several differences from Lovecraft's original story, such as:
- The setting is switched to Galicia, Spain instead of the fictional town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. The Spanish town is fictional too and it's called Imboca ("Boca" meaning mouth).
- The story is updated to modern times, with the appearance of devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers.
- The number of characters is increased.
- The villagers in Lovecraft's story are the offspring of human breeding with sea creatures called Deep Ones. In the movie, their origin is vaguely explained. Also, in Gordon's version, the appearance of the creatures is quite exaggerated when compared to the original story, as they have additional tentacles or have them as replacements for their limbs.
- The villagers skin and wear their victims' faces; while Stuart Gordon based this habit on research he had done about the ancient worshippers of Dagon, who wore fish heads, this doesn't occur in the original story.
- Dagon itself doesn't appear in The Shadow Over Innsmouth; it does in the homonymous short story, even though it is only vaguely described. Its appearance in the movie seems to be inspired by another creation of Lovecraft, the tentacled Cthulhu.
- It is worth noting that the main character wears a Miskatonic University sweater.
Dennis Paoli wrote the screenplay back in the '80s, but he and Stuart Gordon never managed to get the movie off the ground. In early 2000, Brian Yuzna founded the Fantastic Factory division of Filmax and called them back to finally shoot the movie. The original draft was more faithful to Lovecraft's short story, being based in New England.