Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Curse, The (1987)

...aka: Farm, The

Directed by:
David Keith

H.P. Lovecraft's great story "The Colour Out of Space" had already been filmed in 1965 as DIE, MONSTER, DIE!, but here it is again. The story is set on a failing family farm threatened with bank foreclosure in the small town of Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Wil Wheaton (the year after the big hit Stand by Me) stars as Zachary, living on the farm with his mother (Kathleen Jordan Gregory), real-life sister (Amy Wheaton), abusive religious fanatic stepfather (Claude Akins), a handyman (Steve Carlisle) and a fat, obnoxious slob older stepbrother (Malcolm Danare) whose hairy ass we see in an unflattering close-up. One night a big glowing meteor falls and lands in their backyard and secretes a black, oily substance into the ground, polluting their water supply. Madness and / or grotesque mutations show up in vegetables, livestock, dogs, horses, chickens and, or course, humans. Hampered by bad photography, a pointless subplot with John ("The Dukes of Hazard") Schenider as a Tennessee Valley Authority surveyor and an uneven script, but more often than not it's pretty entertaining. There are some pretty good, gross shocks (mostly involving maggots) and most of the performances are fine.

This marks the directorial debut of actor Keith, who does a decent job capitalizing on the remote rural settings. Two of the producers were Italian filmmakers Ovidio G. Assonitis and Lucio (billed as "Louis") Fulci. It was followed by three unrelated direct-to-video sequels; CURSE II: THE BITE (1989; an even-stranger toxic snake movie originally called The Bite), Curse III: Blood Sacrifice (1990; which involves voodoo curses and was originally titled Panga) and Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice (1988; which involves demonic possession, was filmed before parts 2 and 3 and was originally called Catacombs). This one was filmed as The Farm. Confusing, eh?


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