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 II: The Bite (1989)

...aka: Bite, The

Directed by:
Frederico Prosperi

Curse II: The Bite (originally called simply The Bite) has absolutely nothing to do with the original THE CURSE (1987), a gory adaptation of Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space." It also has no connection to the other two films released later as part of this series, which has been known to annoy many people. In the case of this one, if you're willing to put the annoying marketing out of your mind and take it at face value, it isn't too bad. If you're scared of snakes, it effectively plays that fear to the hilt... and then some! Attractive young couple Lisa (Jill Schoelen) and Clark (J. Eddie Peck) are traveling through New Mexico when some decidedly strange things begin to happen. For starters, snakes seem to be are all over the place, including the road they're driving on in a memorable opening sequence. One manages to get into their jeep, he's bit on the hand and we eventually find out that the snakes have been exposed to radioactive materials. This, mixed with some anti venom injection given to him by Jamie Farr (not a qualified doctor), combine for horrific results when Clark's hand slowly turns into an uncontrollable killer snake with a mind of its own. It reaches down a cop's throat and pulls his heart out of his mouth, blinds a woman (Savina Gersak) by spitting venom in her eyes and rips a female doctor's jaw completely off during several of the more potent gore / murder scenes. However, the best fx (from the reliable Screaming Mad George) are saved for the big finale as Clark begins to go through a major transformation. His tongue and eyeballs fall out, he starts vomiting up snakes and eventually falls apart to reveal a huge snake monster.

Ridiculous as this all may sound, the premise in unusual enough to maintain interest throughout, the make-up effects are inventive and there's a nice Southern road movie feel with scenes taking place along windswept interstate highways along the desert, in country bars and in the house of some backwoods religious folks. Performances are mostly good, with the two leads doing fairly well, as well as Farr. Smaller roles are played by veteran character actors Bo Svenson (as a blowhard Sheriff), Marianne Muellerleile (Farr's female truck driver girlfriend), Sydney Lassick (a guy at the hotel) and Al Fann (a gas station attendant whose dog has been also been effected by the snakes), plus there's an early performance from Shiri Appleby (TV's "Roswell") as a nosy little girl. There were American, Italian (Ovidio G. Assonitis was one of the executive producers) and Japanese backers on this project.


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