Curse II: The Bite (1989)
AKA The Bite, Blood Biter
Starring Jill Schoelen, J. Eddie Peck, Jamie Farr, Bo Svenson, Savina Gersak, Marianne Muellerleile, Sydney Lassick, Terrence Evans, Shiri Appleby
Directed by Frederico Prosperi
Expectations: None. Hopefully it’s more fun than the unrelated first one.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Curse II: The Bite isn’t a horror movie bursting with originality, but it is bursting with a lot of fun and great FX work, and in a low-budget horror movie that ends up counting for a lot. For the most part it is a slow-burn horror film, but it’s one that rewards its viewers steadily leading up the incredible, exciting finale absolutely chock full of fantastic FX work from Screaming Mad George. It’s really surprising to see such plentiful FX work in a low-budget film, and it goes to show you that if you get a trained professional to provide practical FX you can have a kick-ass horror movie without breaking the bank. Let’s bring back that trend in horror films!
Curse II begins on an ominous note: a pair of radiation-suited employees of the Yellow Sands Nuclear Test Site in the Arizona desert pick up a snake with a pair of snake-gettin’ tongs. Hmm, maybe The Bite sub-title refers to a snakebite! But if you don’t figure it out from that initial scene, during the credits we’re treated to snakes, snakes and more snakes. But not just snakes doing the usual slithering around and flicking their tongues in and out. These snakes are climbing up the chain-link fence surrounding the test site. Some of them just hang there on the fence, too, perhaps because they’re resting, but probably because they were just climbing up the fence to have a better vantage point from which to plot their nefarious plans.
While these snakes on the fence consider their place in the world, one of their number has a more immediate idea. Through excellent first-person camerawork, we see from his viewpoint as he slithers towards a broken-down Jeep Cherokee containing our two leads: Lisa (Jill Schoelen) & Clark (J. Eddie Peck). The snake hitches a ride, and before you can rattle your tail twice he’s sunk his teeth into the webbed part of Clark’s hand between his thumb and forefinger. This is indeed “the bite” of the title, and if you were going to title a movie after a single bite, this would definitely be one to do so with.
I’d love to write about all the hardships this bite brings to Clark and Lisa’s lives, but to do so would ruin all the fun of this movie. You’ll just have to track it down and watch it for yourself. Let’s just say that it involves Jaime Farr as a traveling salesman — who’s also a snake expert! — with a business card that turns into a sponge when wet, panties soaked in green ooze, and a dog that should’ve been put down a long time ago. It’s a little more serious than I generally like my ’80s horror movies, but it’s still made with the same wild imagination and spirit that makes up the best of what the era had to offer (although it is missing a kick-ass rock song over the end credits).
It’s probably also worthwhile to point out that Curse II has absolutely nothing to do with The Curse. There’s no attempt to even mention a curse — makes sense in a film that was originally titled The Bite! Somewhere along the line someone thought it was a good idea to piggyback on the “good” name of The Curse so Curse II: The Bite was born. This is the same kind of marketing scheme that gave us Troll 2, the completely unrelated sequel to the cult hit Troll. So I guess The Curse must have done fairly well at the box office in relation to its budget, despite it being a pretty awful movie (to me).
Curse II: The Bite is kinda slow at times, but it’s always entertaining. There’s enough tension, snakes, and FX sprinkled throughout to engage, and the film heartily rewards those who stick around for the stunning & quite gory finale. It’s not exactly a hidden gem of a movie, but FX junkies will definitely want to check this out for some great inspiration.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be checking out another non-Full Moon movie that’s kinda related (trust me, it’s all leading somewhere): the 1991 film Curse III: Blood Sacrifice starring Christopher Lee! See ya then!