The Curse (1987)
AKA The Farm
Starring Wil Wheaton, Claude Akins, Malcolm Danare, Cooper Huckabee, John Schneider, Amy Wheaton, Steve Carlisle, Kathleen Jordon Gregory, Hope North, Steve Davis
Directed by David Keith
Expectations: For some reason I’m really stoked about this one.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
The Curse puts a few different horror movie premises together and expects them to play nice, but instead they just kinda sit apart from one another and refuse to jell. On one hand, it presents itself as a small town paranoia-based ’50s throwback film. A crazed man with a nasty boil on his face is taken away by the police while screaming, “It’s in the water!” He nervously watches out the window as they drive away from his home, as everyone in the neighborhood waters their lawn, or washes their car, or drinks from the hose… etc.
After this opening, the film shifts gears to the story of a small family farm owned by Nathan Crane (Claude Akins). Nathan is a strict religious man who berates his wife, Frances (Kathleen Jordon Gregory), for every little thing she does wrong. She’s actually doing a great job taking care of the house and the kids, Nathan’s just an overbearing asshole with the Lord on his side (in his mind). Here The Curse becomes something of a religious-based horror film, with Nathan seeing the family’s misfortune and hardships as a curse brought onto them by his wife’s behavior.
In actuality it’s all due to the glowing hunk of space ooze that crash-landed in the Crane family field. This happens fairly early in the film, again setting the audience up for something in the ’50s paranoia genre, but this is more of a bait & switch than anything else as it’s after this point that all the religious stuff develops. It all makes for a very strange concoction of a film, and being played completely without humor makes it all the stranger. I’m all for believing stupid shit to enjoy a movie, but to do that and then be expected to stay serious was too much for me to take. At least in this case it was; I’m sure there are tons of examples where this kind of thing can work, I just can’t think of any off the top of my head.
The other problem with The Curse is that it doesn’t really do much of anything to distinguish itself from the multitude of other films just like it. We’ve all seen at least a few movies that open with a meteor or some shit dropping out of the sky and causin’ a ruckus for the next 90 minutes, so any film attempting to make use of that basic structure has to differentiate itself. I suppose the religious aspect is a different spin on it, but it’s also a cliche itself and two cliches don’t make an original thought!
And I had such high hopes going into this one, with it starring Wil Wheaton and all. He will always have a special place in my heart because I grew up watching him in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Disney TV movie Young Harry Houdini. I was always a sci-fi minded kid, so seeing him on the Enterprise was about the closest I could get to being on the bridge myself. That probably explains why I connected with him more deeply than other kid actors. Unfortunately, his role in The Curse is so limiting that it’s easy to forget that it’s actually Wheaton in the role. Every time he came on-screen I would think, “Oh yeah, he’s in this!” And oddly we get a full-body shot of him looking out the window in his underwear — I guess the director has the 12-year-old girls and the pedophiles in the audience in mind.
There are a few good ideas sprinkled throughout — I loved the pulsating meteor that melts into space ooze — but The Curse is just largely forgettable. It’s not even nice to look at. The finale makes up for the film’s shortcomings a bit by presenting about 10 minutes straight of great FX work, but it’s obviously too little too late. Don’t bother with this one.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be checking out another non-Full Moon movie that’s kinda related: Frederico Prosperi’s 1989 film Curse II: The Bite! Thankfully for me, I hear that the sequel is completely unrelated to The Curse! See ya then!