HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Curse/The Curse II: The Bite
HTS Overall Score:64
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
Nothing says a good Friday morning (at least it’s morning for me) than for a pair of ooey gooey, gore fests from SCREAM! Farctory. This time we’re back with a pair of films that both carry the same title (or at least close to it) but are rather different from each other. The first is a weird sort of alien/body horror film that creeps and grosses us out along the way, while the sequel is a sequel in name only. Forgoing the unnatural terror of “The Curse”, “The Curse II” is a wacked out snake movie (I shudder at the thought of snakes) that is so laughably bad that it’s a load of crazy fun. Neither are going to win academy awards or become the next “Friday the 13th”, but they are a blast from the MGM past and a whole lot of popcorn fun for fans of forgotten 80’s horror flicks.
The Curse :3.5stars:
“The Curse” is a fun little 1987 horror film starring Will Wheaton just a few short months before he got the famous gig of playing Lt. Jr. Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. It’s a goofy flick that really isn’t a GREAT film, but it’s certainly a fun film nonetheless. The year is 1987 and young Zack (Will Wheaton) and his sister, Alice (Amy Wheaton) are living with their mother Frances (Kathleen Jordan Gregory) and their new stepfather Nathan (Claude Akins) on his family farm. Nathan is a devoutly religious man. So much so that one would consider him extremely rigid and dogmatic. He lives by the word and he violently enforces that word in his family. Frances is neglected as a woman and feels ostracized, while Nathan’s son, Cyrus (Malcolm Danare) abuses Alice and Zack as best he can with his dullard wits. Falling into the arms of the hired hand one night, Frances and the rest of the family around about to fall into an unwitting curse.
During the affair a strange meteor like substance falls to the farm and draws everyone out of the house to investigate. At first glance it’s just a glowing orb, and the surrounding neighbors don’t want to draw in any outsiders because of a giant land deal happening that will bring in a state reservoir, revitalizing the town and making a profit for some rather shifty townsfolk. So instead of doing the smart thing and getting the feds involved, they let it be. Night after night it sits there until one night it just dissolves into the earth. Even though the family is relieved, they aren’t out of the woods yet. Strange things start happening around house. First vegetables show up rotted from the inside out, and strange liquids spray out of the tomatoes. Soon Nathan, Frances and Cyrus start showing strange signs. Boils and lesions form on their skin, horses attack the family and the cows start dissolving in front of their very eyes. Nathan attributes it to a holy curse brought on by Frances’ infidelity, but Young Zack is less sure as he has been secretly drinking water outside of the farm and getting store bought food for himself and Alice. As the water slowly mutates those around him, the curse begins to spread and soon may infect everyone around them.
“The Curse” is a goofy bit of fun, but fun at the very core. It has a strange ability to create a nasty sort of tension out of nothing but seemingly innocuous objects. The terror at watching a crop of fruit dissolve in front of your eyes into maggots is one thing, but then watching the characters of the family members change too is quite another. There is a bit of body horror thrown in, as Nathan, Frances and Cyrus mutate into zombie like creatures, but there is also a bit of supernatural and Alien terror thrown in. Sadly we’re never let on to just WHAT exactly the orb was and what brought it there. Was it Alien? Was it supernatural? No one ever knows and it really isn’t necessary to the plotline. Instead it’s the uncomfortable nervousness of watching the entire family just devolve into their baser instincts and the resulting gore and special effects laden conflicts happen.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65626[/img]The Curse II: The Bite :3.5stars:
While “The Curse” was a creepy, but certainly serviceable horror film, “The Curse II: The Bit” is a wacked out experiment in crazy creature horror that bears no resemblance to the first film besides bearing the title of sequel. Completely unrelated in any other way other than the title, it was made famous by having a ton of special effects done by the legendary horror maestro Screaming Mad George himself! Instead of a family with a supernatural/alien/who knows what curse on them, “The Curse II” takes place in dusky Arizona (where I’m actually locate) as a young twitter pated couple named Lisa (Jill Schoelen) and Clark (J. Eddie Peck) head out to face the unknown with nothing but a guitar and their few belongings.
Things go south real quick when the couple go through no man’s land, against the warnings of the locals, and experience a few strange encounters. First they pass through the highway where snakes are literally littering the ground in the THOUSANDS. Then they run into a rather strange repair stop, managed by an even stranger man mumbling about snake bites. The little tidbit of information that they had once ignored comes into play. It seems that the location was once a testing ground for nuclear weapons, and the snakes that are inhabiting that location seem to have been infected to the point of mutation. Sooner or later Clark gets bit and then the real fun begins.
Clark begins to change his personality, becoming more violent and more irrational by the day. The snake bite that he had gotten treated seems to be getting worse. His entire hand is blackening and causing the man considerable agony. Refusing to let people see it, the bite is getting worse. Changing him fundamentally from the inside out. Soon it becomes clear that his hand is no longer his own. What was once a simple bite has mutated into a creature with a mind all its own and something very evil.
To say that “The Curse II” is a bit of a crazy film is an understatement. Where else can you see a story about a snake bite from a mutant snake where the victims hand begins to TURN into a snake itself? It’s so awful and so cheesy, but so much fun at the same time. I laughed myself silly, but also was huddling in a corner the entire time. Everyone has a phobia of something. It may be drowning, tight spaces, or something completely unrelated. I just happen to share the same phobia as Indiana Jones and will most certainly have nightmares about snakes for the next week (thank you very much Scream Factor).
By the end of the film I was honestly wondering what crazy things were going to happen next. We went from a man being mutated by a snake, to having it carry snake like properties, to a no holds barred “The Fly” style confrontation where Clark begins dumping snakes out of his mouth and his hand ensnares people like a Siren! It’s so amazingly bad, however, the wonderful special effects by Screaming Mad George is worth the price of admission alone. They certainly won’t rival top notch $200,000,0000 films, but back in 1989 this time of prosthetic work was considered top notch. Especially for a movie with a dirt cheap budget like this one was.
Rated R by the MPAA / Rated R by the MPAA
The Curse :4stars:
Neither film is exactly painstakingly restored (old forgotten 1980’s horror flicks rarely are), but “The Curse” is very obviously the better looking of the two films. There is a nice layer of grain over the entire image and despite some speckling and print damage, the detail levels are impressively high. There’s some washing out of the black levels, but nothing too severe, and the macroblocking is kept to a minimum. There is some issues of boosted contrast, but the colors look fairly natural with a rather noticeable orange push to the palette.
The Curse II: The Bite :3stars:
“The Curse II: The Bite” takes a noticeable dip in quality, with some heavy contrast issues and a very washed out look to the film. The black levels suffer as a result and lose a lot of detail in the dimmer moments. Brightly lit outdoor shots look noticeably better, they also can look a bit smeary and overly grainy at times. Other times the image clears up quite nicely and showcases some great looking facial detail and fine detail surrounding objects in the fore ground. The budget for the sequel took a nose dive and despite the fantastic special effects by Screaming Mad George, the film print has certainly seen better days as you can see some annoying print damage to boot. It’s definitely an HD transfer and not an upscale, but it’s not a film that will look very good unless someone gives some TLC to the aging source material.
Both films sound extremely similar in sound. They each are given a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track and while neither is exactly a modern day surround track, they are move than serviceable. Dialog is clear and clean for the most part. I didn’t notice any hiss or distortions to mar the experience. There is a boxy and subdued sound to the dialog, but nothing too egregious to my ears. All in all they are basic 2.0 tracks from horror films that weren’t given a budget to do much besides give you access to the sound. There’s some LFE baked into “The Curse”, mainly in the end sequence where the house starts falling apart, but neither film has much more than a few bumps and ooffs along the way to give that sub a workout.
• Theatrical Trailer
The last few horror double features from SCREAM! Factory have been a bit of a disappointment, but “The Curse/The Curse II: The Bite” was just what the doctor ordered as I sat back and just enjoyed the ooey gooey 80’s Velveeta cheese. Neither film is ecstatically good, but both a blast to watch despite copious flaws. The extras are sadly almost nil (save for a single trailer on “The Curse”), which is a bit disappointing as both films had some great effects work and it would have been fun to dig into the nitty gritty behind the scenes details. However it doesn’t dampen the fact that these two long forgotten films may never have come to Blu-ray at all except for SCREAM! Factory, so don’t let that deter you from checking them out.
Starring: Amy Wheaton, Will Wheaton, Claude Akins, John Schneider : Jill Schoelen, J. Eddie Peck, Jamie Farr
Directed by: David Keith : Frederico Prosperi
Written by: David Chaskin : Frederico Prosperi, Susan Zelouf
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC / 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono/Stereo
Studio: SCREAM! Factory
Runtime: 91 minutes : 98 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
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