After starting in Washington D.C. nine years ago Horror Movie Night has expanded to include chapters in Austin, Dallas and Chicago. Horror’s Not Dead’s own Brian Kelley is the originator and programmer of this illustrious weekly Wednesday night tradition which features a “classic” horror film. Each week I will be reviewing/commenting on the past week’s selection so do your best to find the film, most of which have not made it past VHS, and follow along. Better yet, start your own chapter!
Fucking white people. Am I right?
This is a phrase you will become quite familiar with over the course of the 90 minutes of this week’s film. Furthering the grand tradition of the first two films in The Curse series, this has nothing to do with the other installments. Where part one concerned an alien disease from a meteorite (adapted from a Lovecraft story), and its sequel dealt with some crazy snakes and infected bites transforming the wounded serpents; part three is nothing like the other two. In fact, we even get the exotic locale of South Africa in this one and some crazy tribal shenanigans! Curse III: Blood Sacrifice (aka Panga) involves none of the same characters or experiences, and even gets rid of most of the fun the first two films had going for them. Lame.
A group of white people, both Europeans and Americans, have a bad time after crossing the wrong tribe. While observing an old tribal ritual concerning the death of one of their own wherein an animal is to be sacrificed, one of the white women freaks the fuck out and runs to help the little goat. Now, I’m not one to be light on, or endorse, animal sacrifice, but I have enough sense not to interrupt some sort of ritual in another culture, in another land. This girl – not so much. Of course this means one of the elder members shouts something angrily at her and the group is now cursed. Great. A mystical force is killing through the group and not even the sugar cane plantation owner’s bond with the locals can save them now.
When watching this movie if you haven’t said “fucking white people” by the time you see the ritual interruption – that’ll do it for sure. Who the hell does something like that? Even before all of that you will be rolling your eyes at the way these light-skinned fools act. Not just because of the vaguely racist things that they do or say, of which there are plenty, but their actions make no sense. When our lead female feels intimidated by all the Africans around her she will shudder and at times even sing “America, America” to herself as a soothing action to remind her of home. Yep. Another thing she says, and it’s something that you probably would only hear white people say, is, “I don’t know what the rusty drainpipe did, but I sure feel a lot better.” I don’t know what the hell that is either but we all had quite a good laugh.
It’s also puzzling as to what kind of power director Sean Barton has in the film industry. Whatever it is, it must be substantial. As a director this is his only credit, but his resume is much more extensive as an editor, having worked on such films as Return of the Jedi and Quadrophenia. This must have given him enough to be able to pull the one and only Christopher Lee (!) into a smaller role as the village doctor. There is no reason this man should be in this film, but he is. This could only mean one thing – Barton is a sorcerer. Well, either that or a blackmailer, but those are the only two logical explanations.
One of the most frustrating things about this film is the lack of onscreen mayhem. If a film is good and/or suspenseful I can get by without any visual fright/gore gags, but when dealing with something as stagnant as Curse III, it gets annoying. The majority of the deaths, all but 1.5, take place completely offscreen. Sometimes you get to see the body afterward but that’s not enough to make up for everything else. I’m sure Barton aimed to create something full of atmosphere and fright, you can see that through the extended running-through-the-sugar-cane scene while a little girl and her grandma talk about monsters, but it just fails at every turn. Would have been much more interesting if we got to at least see some of these stupid crackers get hacked. There’s a death of a couple of humping whities on a beach that’s wasted on offscreen deaths. Shame.
Oh, I almost forgot! There is one very, very vague thing, other than the curse connection, in this film that harkens back to the series’ roots. All throughout the film, we don’t see who or what is doing the killing on behalf of the tribe, but hear of something coming from the sea. In the last few minutes we finally see this being and…it’s a fishman that sort of resembles the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Well, if he let himself go. This terrorizer from the sea has a very thin Lovecraftian correlation and seeing that the first film was adapted from his story “The Colour Out of Space” this might be an attempt to tie it all together. Yeah, I’m grasping at straws.
While The Curse and The Curse 2: The Bite are both available on DVD, this film is not. That’s alright because you’re not missing much. Very little redeemable here, just a lot of boring nothingness. It’s fun to see Lee and speculate on why he’s in this at all. Although, if you come across a VHS copy somewhere you might want to pick it up and create a drinking game. A drink each time something racist happens or any time you shake your head at the representatives of the white race.
Until next week – prepare yourself for the fourth and final entry in The Curse series, coming to HMN in October!
Body Count: 7 (along with 1 dog and 1 goat)
Number of Offscreen Deaths: 5
Time to First Onscreen Death: 1:19:15
First Appearance of Christopher Lee: 16:46
Times I Muttered “Fucking White People”: 9
Coming soon too Horror Movie Night (Chronicles are posted one week after screening):
-3/21/12: Frankenhooker (1990)
-3/28/12: Fatal Games (1984)
-4/4/12: The Runestone (1990)
-4/11/12: Microwave Massacre (1983)