Home Video Hovel: The Curse: Curse II: The Bite, by David Bax
The first thing you should know about Scream Factory’s double feature Blu-ray of David Keith’s The Curse and Fred Goodwin’s Curse II: The Bite is that the movies are in no way related in terms of narrative, characters or continuity. Neither film references the other at any point. In fact, the two films represent only half of a four-film series of Curse movies that have nothing to do with one another. The second thing you should know is that this doesn’t matter. If you’re horror fan—especially of the stomach-churning, physical effects-heavy variety of the genre—you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to care a bit about the ruse.
Keith, primarily known as an actor, made his directorial debut with 1987’s The Curse. An adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space,” The Curse stars Wil Wheaton as a boy who, along with his sister (Amy Wheaton), is forced to move to a farm when their mother (Kathleen Jordon Gregory) remarries. After a meteorite (or is it?) hits the farm, things begin to change, literally. The crops become deformed and, soon, so do the people. Wheaton’s lead performance is sleepy but Keith spices it up with attention-grabbing shots like low, wide-angled ones that recall The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The real star here, however, are the special effects. Overseen in part by producer Lucio Fulci, the physical transformations are as impressive as they are nauseating.
That trend more or less continues in The Bite, in which a man (J. Eddie Peck) is bitten on the hand by a radioactive snake (you gotta watch out for those) while on a road trip with his girlfriend (Jill Schoelen). Soon, that hand and then his whole arm is undergoing a slow, painful and very, very gruesome metamorphosis, one that also affects his brain. Apart from the effects, the eclectic supporting cast provides most of the highlights, with Jamie Farr as a traveling salesman who happens to be an expert in poisonous snakes, an appearance by a very young Shiri Appleby and, at the film’s absolute zenith, Bo Svenson as an ornery, no-shit-taking sheriff. Cinematographer Roberto D’Ettorre Piazzoli also lends a helping hand, crafting images that are striking while also serving the pragmatic purposes of a horror film, cropping out or hiding in the shadows those things that we aren’t meant to see until the moment is right.
The Curse and Curse II: The Bite might be part of the same franchise in name only but together they represent an under-the-radar delight waiting to be discovered by fans of body horror. But be warned, just in case it hasn’t been made clear yet, these movies are mighty gross. For the right kind of person, that ought to be a selling point.
In terms of color and grain, both films have been transferred commendably. However, it’s worth noting that the disc itself contains a disclaimer about the less than ideal state of the Curse II source. It was clearly a little rough but not enough to truly distract.
There are no special features.