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THE CURSE

This undistinguished 1987 grue fest, loosely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s “Colour out of Space,” is of interest for one reason: the name “Louis Fulci,” credited as Associate Producer--actually Italy’s Lucio Fulci, of ZOMBIE, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE BEYOND infamy, who was called in by producer Ovidio Assonitis to assist first-time director David Keith.

The Package
     The extent of Mr. Fulci’s involvement in THE CURSE has been a longtime source of debate. Some people claim he “ghosted” the film while others say he assisted only in the special effects--which, it must be said, do bear his influence.
     David Keith is best known as an actor in films ranging from FIRESTARTER to WHITE OF THE EYE to HEARTBREAK HOTEL, but his directorial credits are scant--and judging by his work here, I can understand why. The above-the-title star was the teenage Will Wheaton, coming off STAND BY ME and just getting started on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. Wheaton has since stated the only good thing about THE CURSE is that his little sister Amy got an acting job (her first) on it.

The Story
     Young Zach has problems: aside from being a complete wimp, he has to spend an entire summer working on his mother’s dairy farm with his pious stepfather and abusive stepbrother Cyrus. One night something crashes to Earth outside Zach’s window. The next morning that something is revealed as a large ball that flashes and eventually melts into watery goo.
     The town’s authorities conclude the thing is a broken-off portion of an airplane lavatory, but Zach, having studied the object up close, knows better (although for some reason he keeps this knowledge to himself). In short order, a weird type of plant sprouts up, tomatoes spurt blood and apples become filled with writhing maggots. All the farm’s animals go crazy from drinking water polluted by the seeping goo, as evinced by a horse kicking Cyrus and chickens attacking his little sister.
     The humans don’t fare much better. Zach’s mother and step brother become homicidal maniacs from drinking the water, although Zach’s step father and sister remain unaffected, at least initially. Eventually Zach’s stepdad becomes homicidal, the house falls apart, Zach’s mom turns into a puddle of slime and the movie ends.

The Direction
     This film will be sought out by fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Lucio Fulci, and both camps will be disappointed. THE CURSE follows the broad outlines of Lovecraft’s “Colour out of Space” but completely misses the story’s imaginative brilliance, and nor does it approach the transcendent craziness of Fulci’s best work.
     What David Keith (and/or Lucio Fulci) has turned out is a reasonably competent but uninspiring piece of work. The lame synthesizer score does the film no favors, and nor does the charisma-free performance of Will Wheaton as the wimpy and unsympathetic “hero.”
     The sole area where THE CURSE excels is in the spectacularly gooey blood and slime special effects. Even here, though, the film falls short of its potential (possibly due to MPAA-enforced editing), having already been far outdone by the likes of THE THING, VIDEODROME and FROM BEYOND.
 

Vital Statistics

THE CURSE (a.k.a. THE FARM)
Trans World Entertainment

Director: David Keith
Producer: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Screenplay: David Chaskin
Cinematography: Robert D. Furges
Editing: Claudio M. Cutry
Cast: Will Wheaton, Claude Atkins, Malcolm Danare, Cooper Huckabee, John Schneider, Amy Wheaton, Steve Carlisle, Kathleen Jordan Gregory, Hope North, Steve Davis
 

     

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