Watch “Dark Intruder”, a 1966 Lovecraftian TV movie that’s actually pretty good

My friend author Rick Lai told me about Dark Intruder, a 1966 made-for-TV movie that has some major Lovecraftian themes.

Watch it here: Dark Intruder.

Here are Rick’s notes on the movie:

1) The movie compares the 1890 murders to the Jack the Ripper slayings. The screenplay was written by Barre Lyndon. He also wrote the screenplay for a 1944 movie, THE LODGER, starring Laird Cregar as Jack the Ripper. Lyndon was also credited as the co-author of the screenplay for the 1953 remake, THE MAN IN THE ATTIC, with Jack Palance. I suspect that the other writer just heavily revised Lyndon’s earlier screenplay. Barre Lyndon wrote the television adaption of Robert Bloch’s “Yours truly, Jack the Ripper.” on THRILLER. The whole idea of serial killings masking a black magic ritual in DARK INTRUDER was borrowed from Bloch’s story.

2) The other major borrowing from Bloch comes from his Cthulhu Mythos story, “The Mannikin.” Bloch’s tale concerns a hunchback whose hump is revealed to be a malformed Siamese twin seeking to control him. It’s implied by Bloch that an evil spirit had actually entered the distorted twin’s body. If you listen closely to DARK INTRUDER, you’ll realize that Professor Malaki isn’t really the twin brother of the handsome curio dealer. Malaki is really a Sumerian demon that possessed the body of the malformed twin shortly after its birth in Iraq.

3) Of course. Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep” may have influenced DARK INTRUDER. There have been several sequels to Lovecraft’s story by Peter Cannon in which the entity swapping minds isn’t Ephraim Waite, but Azathoth (Lovecraft’s story has a brief but significant reference to that cosmic entity). Cannon may have gotten this idea from DARK INTRUDER which also mentions Azathoth.

4) In the scene where Brett Kingsford (Leslie Nielsen) examines the idols in the police commissioner’s office, he cites Azathoth and Dagon and associates them with “certain religions in the Hoggar region . . . the Crimson Desert.” These references are inspired by “The Last Test,” Lovecraft’s revision for Adolphe de Castro. That story describes the Hoggar mountains in North Africa and the Crimson Desert (the Arabian Desert) as centers of cults revering the Great Old Ones. The Hoggar Mountains are also described by Lovecraft as housing lost colonies of Atlantis. Lovecraft lifted this Atlantean colony idea from Pierre Benoit’s lost race adventure novel, L’ALANTIDE (a. k. a. THE QUEEN OF ATLANTIS). Lovecraft read Benoit’s novel just before he revised “The Last Test.”

5) In the black magic ritual that completes the mind swap. Malaki invokes several gods from genuine religion and mythologies including Shaitan, the Islamic Satan. There is also a reference in the invocation to “the banished gods Nyoghta and Garoth.” Nyogtha is from Henry Kuttner’s “The Salem Horror,” and would later battle Carl Kolchak in two stories by C. J. Henderson. It took me 30 years to track down Garoth. Robert H. Barlow created a demon with that name in some fantasy stories that are collected in EYES OF THE GOD (Hippocampus Press, 2002).

6) The book of magic that Brett Kingsford consults is THE CABALA OF DEMONIC POSSESSION by J. Drail, an anagram of J. Laird. Jack Laird, who also produced NIGHT GALLERY, produced DARK INTRUDER. Music from DARK INTRUDER ended up on NIGHT GALLERY.

7) Malaki was played by Werner Klemperer, the actor who played Col. Klink on HOGAN’S HEROES. However, his voice was dubbed by Norman Lloyd, who played the elderly doctor on ST. ELSEWHERE.

8) Under the alias of Malachi Nelson, Malaki plays a major role in my short story, “The Consorts of Zukala-Koth,” in SHADOWS OF THE OPERA.

10) The quote involving Azathoth and Dagon is miswritten in THE LURKER IN THE LOBBY, the standard reference books about Lovecraftian film. Here’s the misquote: “gods older than the human race . . . deities like Dagon and Azathoth still have worshippers.” The real quote is “There are certain religions in the Hoggar region . . . the Crimson desert . . . Azathoth . . . Dagon. The faulty quotation from THE LURKER IN THE LOBBY can be found on Wikipedia and several other Internet sites.

Watch Dark Intruder.

Trailer:

6 responses to “Watch “Dark Intruder”, a 1966 Lovecraftian TV movie that’s actually pretty good

  1. I watch it some weeks algo, thanks Mike David for the link and Rick Lai by the very brilliant comments.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on this. Just watched it and enjoyed it a great deal. Lao Schifrin’s score here is so typical of the genre of that time – that said, i did enjoy all of the cliche’ moments. There were a few goofy cues, i.e when Brett tips his hat to the lady in the street – the whimsical cues, etc. Nice to hear the theremin put to good use throughout and the expected tremelo strings and staccato brass cues to emphasize… well, pretty much anything! Good stuff. Interesting props and hodge-podge of mythos.

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