I knew going in that I was going to love The Curse / Curse II: The Bite Double Feature from Scream Factory, based solely on the little blurb on the back of the case, which reads “A Double Dose Of ‘80s Horror!”. Anyone that actually reads my site knows I have an unhealthy affection towards 80s horror films, so when the cover is screaming that these two films are 80s horror gems, how can you not end up loving them. Loving them is exactly what happened when I watched this Double Feature, but in my complete and utter surprise, I ended up enjoying the second movie Curse II: The Bite way more than The Curse, two films that have nothing in common save a name. I’ll get into exactly why I enjoyed the sequel better, but for now, let’s get on with the review of the first movie…
RUN-TIME: 90 / 97 min
ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1
AUDIO: DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
PRODUCTION DATE: 1987 / 1989
RELEASE DATE: Feb 23, 2016
A Double Dose Of ‘80s Horror!
Life on the family dairy farm is difficult for young Zach Hayes (Wil Wheaton, Stand by Me): hard work, long hours and the normal family squabbles. But after an ice-blue meteor plunges through the midnight sky and lands on their property, it gets worse. Zach and the local doctor discover that something inside the meteor is infecting every living thing on the farm. Fruits, which look perfect on the outside are teeming with worms… and Zach’s family is beginning to change… hideously! This shocker is directed by actor David Keith (Firestarter, White of the Eye) and co-stars Claude Akins (Tentacles), Malcolm Danare (Christine), Cooper Huckabee (The Funhouse) and John Schneider (Smallville).
CURSE II: THE BITE
Two young lovers, Clark (J. Eddie Peck, Kyle XY) and Lisa (Jill Schoelen, The Stepfather), traveling through the desert unwittingly pass through an abandoned nuclear test site which has become a breeding ground for deadly mutant killer snakes. When Clark is bitten, he undergoes a grotesque transformation into a hideous snake monster! This chiller filled with slithering horror also stars Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H), Shiri Appleby (Roswell) and Bo Svenson (Walking Tall Part II).
As usual and in this case, making complete sense, as it’s the first in a series of unconnected films, I will start the review off with The Curse, a tale about a horny farmer’s wife and a water supply gone bad.
The story for The Curse goes a bit like this. Frances, a lonely Farmer’s wife, fornicates with a local farm boy, whose back has the most hair on it I’ve ever seen, and whilst doing the dirty deed, a mysterious object crashes into the ground. I only mention the fornication, as Frances’ husband, Nathan, thinks it’s the cause of all the problems they start having, when in reality, it’s because the mysterious object has melted into the ground and contaminated the farm’s drinking water. Frances’ son Zach, played by Stand by Me’s Will Wheaton, starts noticing that the water tastes strange and his mother, who has been drinking a lot of it lately, is starting to get really sick and deformed looking. Meanwhile, you have a realtor trying to buy the farm and land, solely for profit reasons; and a Doctor, who is in on the deal with the realtor, however, is hesitant, but quickly changes his mind when his hot wife seduces him with long legs covered in oil. It’s all random and loosely connected subplots, but allows us the viewer to end up with a whole bunch of fodder to deal with. I haven’t even mentioned that Nathan is actually her new husband, as her previous husband passed away. Nathan buys the farm, and I guess Frances comes with it as a package deal? Nathan’s own son Cyrus is a rude, annoying little shit, and picks on Zach relentlessly. Once again, all this stuff is not really connected to the main plot, but boy does it really make you root for both Cyrus and Nathan to drink a ton of water and melt.
Okay, I’m rambling and all over the place with this one. The Curse, minus all the random plot threads, is a straightforward environmental horror film, with an underlying message about the dangers of manipulating the food we eat. Yes, it’s in the disguise of an alien substance falling from space, but in the end, the message is the same, don’t mess with nature. As for the movie itself, it’s enjoyable enough. You get a few cool scenes involving some gnarly special effects, but the movie doesn’t have much blood and guts to speak of. There is also a bunch of technical goofs to see in this flick. I don’t want to spoil the fun of playing spot the mistakes, but the best one involved a miniature prop of a house and a giant roaming crew person in the background. In the end, the movie has never supplied any explanation as to what the object was and what will happen to mankind, but I suppose that’s what a sequel is for, well, a proper sequel that never happened. On an interesting note, the movie was directed by David Keith, who you might know as the actor from Firestarter and White of the Eye. See if you can catch a blink and you miss it cameo from the Director/Actor himself.
Curse II: The Bite
The next movie is Curse II: The Bite, a sequel in name only (sidenote: Curse IV is also known as Catacombs). Clark and Lisa are traveling the dusty roads on their way to California. They take a short cut through a back road and end up bursting a tire. While Clark is changing the tire, a mutated snake enters the back of the car and surprises Clark with a bite on the hand. Thinking it’s just merely a snake bite and not that poisonous, Clark doesn’t seek professional help (why would an ’80s rough and tough man do that!?!) and instead keeps on trucking with his girlfriend. Before you can scream COBRA LA-LA-LA-LA-LA, Clark’s hand starts transforming into a snake, hellbent on killing the people around him.
The reason Curse II: The Bite ends up being better than the first movie, is the fact that it knows how to have some fun, plus it’s got some gut-wrenching gore happening in the second half of the flick. When reading the plot for the movie and seeing that a man’s hand is going to turn into a snake, you’re going to be expecting a flick that is super cheesy, but to my surprise, the movie cuts through the cheese and provides a solid story. Yes, there are some laughs to be had, some intentional and some not, but for the most part, the movie is pretty damn fun. The beginning portion of the flick is probably going to bore some, but I enjoyed the chemistry between actors J. Eddie Peck (Clark) and Jill Schoelen (Lisa), mainly because Jill is too damn cute for words and you can’t help but love her. Once you get into the second half of the movie, that’s where fans of gore are going to go mad, screaming mad in fact, as special effects guru Screaming Mad George (Bride of Re-Animator) provides some of the best gross out scenes I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t want to ruin what you’re going to see, but I can tell you, you’re going to feel sick by some of the scenes, and I’m loving every minute of it!
I don’t have many issues with Curse II: The Bite, save for maybe the film not providing enough information on why this area of the desert that Clark and Lisa take a shortcut through is covered in deadly, mutated snakes. I assume it’s a testing ground of some sorts, which is hinted at by a doomed rest stop attendant, but the movie doesn’t bother explaining much more than that. Also, and not really a complaint, but more of a conundrum, why does an old German religious man, who helps Clark later on in the movie, have such a smoking hot wife? That’s even more strange than a snake for a hand if you ask me.
Scream Factory puts up a text block on the transfer of Curse II: The Bite saying the only source they had for the HD transfer was a film print from the MGM vault. Frankly, I didn’t see much of an issue with the transfer, save for a few rough scenes taking place in a hospital, which had some wear and tear present. Besides that, the transfer was fairly solid. The same goes for The Curse, which keeps a lovely grain field intact, but still has some nice solid blacks. As for the audio, which is DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo for both, it’s a bit on the low side in Curse II’s case, resulting in the viewer having to turn up the speakers a bit higher than usual, however, the final result was still some clean and clear audio for both movies.
The only feature, which really shouldn’t be considered a feature, is a trailer for The Curse, which has some a pretty epic voice over commentary from that trailer voice guy. I’ve seen a few things online about some of the behind the scenes clips for the special effects work on Curse II: The Bite, so I’m not entirely sure why these clips weren’t included on the disc. It’s a shame really, as I would have loved to see the details that went into making those gory scenes come alive.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- Trailer for The Curse
A double dose of ’80s horror is exactly what you’re getting with The Curse / Curse II: The Bite Double Feature Blu-ray from Scream Factory. The first movie has a few problems, but still comes out enjoyable, but the second movie is where the disc really shines, as the movie itself is a gorgasmic, slithery snake filled experience of gut-wrenching proportions (okay, maybe not that amazing, but damn, wouldn’t that line look good on a poster?)