Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Ed Wood collides head-on with the History Channel in 1982's CURSE OF THE CANNIBAL CONFEDERATES, a not-very-good regional production from director Tony Malanowski which Troma picked up for distribution (and who presumably also slapped on the kick-me sign of a title; the end credits say CURSE OF THE SCREAMING DEAD, though Troma's moniker is a tad more accurate). And while nobody goes into a movie like this expecting RICHARD III, CURSE falls far below even the lowest of expectations, frustrating and annoying more often than it entertains.

An RV filled with zombie fodder--er, I mean people--travels through the Maryland countryside for either sightseeing or a hunting trip (their itinerary seems to shift from scene to scene). The characters include a trio of skeevy biker-looking guys (yet who whine as much as the cast of MY SWEET 16), a blind girl who's remarkably adept at finding her way through unfamiliar woods, the blind girl's bitchy sister, and an annoying "feminist." (Quotes added because I don't think Malanowski ever really met one, and is going strictly on hearsay.) In other words, six people we'll want to see dead roughly by the fifteen-minute mark. When one of them finds a Civil War chest in the crumbling ruins of a church, they steal the diary of a Confederate general found inside and jump-start the zombie vengeance.

Griping over acting and screenplay deficiencies are rather pointless in a film like this, so I'll let them slide (CURSE does manage some admirably bleak atmosphere in the starkly-photographed ruins of the church, though this is probably due to the setting rather than any skill on the crew's part). Too bad Malanowski also bungles his zombie scenes as well, shooting them in what feels like slow motion (the zombie scenes were obviously shot separately from those of the human characters, giving them a disconnected feeling that terminates any tension that may have happened). A shot to the head is the standard form of zombie-killing here, too, but instead of a meaty burst of brains and skull the zombies' heads explode in a mass of smoke and sparks that'll have bad-movie buffs rolling. The final twenty minutes has some surprisingly graphic gore, mostly the entrail-spilling variety, though poor craftsmanship mars these scenes as well (like a guy's shirt staying closed as he's disemboweled, the zombies tugging intestines from in between the buttons).

Fans of grade-Z cinema might get a chuckle of two out of CURSE--though be forewarned, this movie moves along at MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE speed--but at least the third act rewards the more patient, indiscriminate viewer. If low-grade Civil War gore is what you crave, you'd be better off with 2000 MANIACS again.

No comments: