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HISTORY

The project was announced in a 12 Sep 1968 DV item, which noted that Ray Russell would adapt the screenplay from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, “The Dunwich Horror,” published in Weird Tales magazine in Jul 1933. The 16 Jan 1970 DV review indicated that Mendocino, CA, stood in for the town of “Dunwich.”
       As stated in the 10 Dec 1969 DV, the picture was initially rated “M” (for mature audiences) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The 16 Jan 1970 DV review listed the rating as M, but a later review in the 9 Jul 1970 NYT cited a new rating of “GP” (all ages admitted, parental guidance suggested).
       Theatrical release took place on 14 Jan 1970 in Chicago, IL, at McVickers Theater, where the film grossed $30,000 in its first week, according to a 21 Jan 1970 Var brief. It opened on 21 Jan 1970 in Los Angeles, CA, and in New York City months later, on 8 Jul 1970, on a double-bill with Scream and Scream Again (1970, see entry). The 12 May 1971 Var reported a box-office gross of $478,900 for the year 1970.
       The soundtrack by Les Baxter was set to be American International Records’ first album release, as stated in the 20 Jan 1970 DV.
       The Dunwich Horror marked the feature film debut of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Curtis Hanson, credited as “Curtis Lee ... More Less

The project was announced in a 12 Sep 1968 DV item, which noted that Ray Russell would adapt the screenplay from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, “The Dunwich Horror,” published in Weird Tales magazine in Jul 1933. The 16 Jan 1970 DV review indicated that Mendocino, CA, stood in for the town of “Dunwich.”
       As stated in the 10 Dec 1969 DV, the picture was initially rated “M” (for mature audiences) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The 16 Jan 1970 DV review listed the rating as M, but a later review in the 9 Jul 1970 NYT cited a new rating of “GP” (all ages admitted, parental guidance suggested).
       Theatrical release took place on 14 Jan 1970 in Chicago, IL, at McVickers Theater, where the film grossed $30,000 in its first week, according to a 21 Jan 1970 Var brief. It opened on 21 Jan 1970 in Los Angeles, CA, and in New York City months later, on 8 Jul 1970, on a double-bill with Scream and Scream Again (1970, see entry). The 12 May 1971 Var reported a box-office gross of $478,900 for the year 1970.
       The soundtrack by Les Baxter was set to be American International Records’ first album release, as stated in the 20 Jan 1970 DV.
       The Dunwich Horror marked the feature film debut of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Curtis Hanson, credited as “Curtis Lee Hanson.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Dec 1969
p. 6.
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1970
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Jan 1970
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1968
Section E, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jan 1970
Section D, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jan 1970
Section E, p. 10.
New York Times
9 Jul 1970
p. 44.
New York Times
12 Jul 1970
p. 1, 21.
Variety
21 Jan 1970
p. 10.
Variety
12 May 1971
p. 38.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
1st & 2nd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set coordinator
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Prod asst
Chief set electrician
Gaffer
Main titles
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Dunwich Horror" by H. P. Lovecraft in Weird Tales (Jul 1933).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Dunwich
Release Date:
14 January 1970
Premiere Information:
Chicago opening: 14 January 1970
Los Angeles opening: 21 January 1970
New York opening: 8 July 1970
Copyright Claimant:
American International Pictures
Copyright Date:
14 January 1970
Copyright Number:
LP38182
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
print by Movielab
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22429
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Nancy Walker and Elizabeth Hamilton, two students who attend Miskatonic University and work in the school library, are putting away the Necronomicon , a rare book on the occult, after a lecture on the supernatural given by visiting professor Dr. Henry Armitage. Dr. Armitage discovers Wilbur Whateley memorizing ritual passages from the Necronomicon and is at first angry, but learns that Wilbur comes from nearby Dunwich, a village having a history of evil occurrences, and that Wilbur is the great-grandson of Oliver Whateley, who was hanged by the villagers as a demon. Nancy, finding herself attracted to Wilbur, offers to drive him home when he misses his bus. Later, in the old mansion where Wilbur lives with his grandfather, Wilbur drugs Nancy and sabotages her car, thus forcing her to stay for the night. (He plans to sacrifice her in a fertility rite in the hopes of gaining for himself contact with the spiritual world.) Nancy accepts his invitation to spend the weekend there, but her absence alarms both Elizabeth and Dr. Armitage, who learn that Wilbur's mother has been living in an insane asylum since giving birth to twins--Wilbur and a boy who has never been seen. Wilbur steals the Necronomicon from the library, kills a guard, and takes Nancy to the "Devil's Hopyard," a rocky hillside, for the ritual. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Dr. Armitage arrive at the Whateley house; Elizabeth opens a locked door and is immediately devoured by an invisible creature, the Dunwich Horror (Wilbur's twin). The Horror escapes and ravages the countryside, intending to kill Wilbur. Eventually, Dr. ... +


Nancy Walker and Elizabeth Hamilton, two students who attend Miskatonic University and work in the school library, are putting away the Necronomicon , a rare book on the occult, after a lecture on the supernatural given by visiting professor Dr. Henry Armitage. Dr. Armitage discovers Wilbur Whateley memorizing ritual passages from the Necronomicon and is at first angry, but learns that Wilbur comes from nearby Dunwich, a village having a history of evil occurrences, and that Wilbur is the great-grandson of Oliver Whateley, who was hanged by the villagers as a demon. Nancy, finding herself attracted to Wilbur, offers to drive him home when he misses his bus. Later, in the old mansion where Wilbur lives with his grandfather, Wilbur drugs Nancy and sabotages her car, thus forcing her to stay for the night. (He plans to sacrifice her in a fertility rite in the hopes of gaining for himself contact with the spiritual world.) Nancy accepts his invitation to spend the weekend there, but her absence alarms both Elizabeth and Dr. Armitage, who learn that Wilbur's mother has been living in an insane asylum since giving birth to twins--Wilbur and a boy who has never been seen. Wilbur steals the Necronomicon from the library, kills a guard, and takes Nancy to the "Devil's Hopyard," a rocky hillside, for the ritual. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Dr. Armitage arrive at the Whateley house; Elizabeth opens a locked door and is immediately devoured by an invisible creature, the Dunwich Horror (Wilbur's twin). The Horror escapes and ravages the countryside, intending to kill Wilbur. Eventually, Dr. Armitage confronts Wilbur and the monster at the Devil's Hopyard, and there Armitage utters a curse which sends both Wilbur and the Dunwich Horror up in flames. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.