(UK/South Africa - 1991)
Directed by Sean Barton. Written by John Hunt and Sean Barton. Cast: Christopher Lee, Jenilee Harrison, Henry Cele, Andre Jacobs, Zoe Randall, Olivia Dyer, Gavin Hood, Jennifer Steyn, Dumi Shongwe. (R, 91 mins)
Based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Colour Out of Space," the 1987 horror film THE CURSE was produced by Italian schlock king Ovidio G. Assonitis, best known as a purveyor of spaghetti knockoffs of THE EXORCIST (1974's BEYOND THE DOOR) and JAWS (1977's TENTACLES) as well as other general insanity along the lines of 1979's THE VISITOR and 1990's SONNY BOY. It was a minor hit in theaters and was popular enough on home video to warrant Assonitis taking another one of his productions, 1989's spectacularly gross THE BITE, and rechristening it CURSE II: THE BITE. Aside from featuring the admittedly unexpected sight of Jamie Farr getting laid in an Italian horror movie, CURSE II: THE BITE is arguably the finest man-turning-into-a-snake saga this side of 1973's SSSSSSS, though it has absolutely nothing to do with THE CURSE other than the involvement of Assonitis and distributor Trans World Entertainment. So began the one of the most dubious of horror franchises in the VHS era, and the chicanery dates back to BEYOND THE DOOR distributor Film Ventures International taking Mario Bava's 1977 swan song SHOCK and retitling it BEYOND THE DOOR II for its 1979 release, largely because both films shared the same creepy little boy (David Colin, Jr). The BEYOND THE DOOR brand was still strong enough with cult horror audiences that the 1989 Assonitis-produced haunted train outing AMOK TRAIN--which didn't involve David Colin, Jr. in any way--was retitled BEYOND THE DOOR III for its straight-to-video 1991 US release.
THREE'S COMPANY's run a decade earlier) has moved to be with her wealthy husband Geoff (Andre Jacobs), whose family has owned the plantation for generations. To ease the culture shock and homesickness, pregnant Elizabeth has also brought along her free-spirited younger sister Cindy (Jennifer Steyn), who's quickly taken up with Geoff's friend Robert (Gavin Hood, the future director of TSOTSI, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, ENDER'S GAME, and EYE IN THE SKY). Ignoring the warnings of Geoff's chief foreman Mletch (SHAKA ZULU's Henry Cele), Cindy pisses off a feared area "inyanga" witch doctor (Dumi Shongwe) by intervening in a ceremonial goat sacrifice during which Elizabeth doesn't help matters by going full MAGA white privilege, shouting "America!: and "American!" to the scoffing derision of the inyanga, who directly threatens her unborn baby. Keeping the goat and taking it back to the plantation, Elizabeth almost immediately develops unbearable pain in her stomach, prompting Geoff to summon superstitious village physician Dr. Pearson (Christopher Lee), who remedies her malady but remains curiously distracted and evasive about his method of treatment. Of course, the outraged inyanga has unleashed a supernatural evil in response to the American interlopers, and before long, the body count rises as a good chunk of the cast if offed by a killer using a "panga," a sort-of ceremonial African machete.