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The Curse / Curse II: The Bite – Double Feature (Blu-ray Review)

Curse-Curse IIOn February 23rd, get ready for a double dose of ‘80s horror with the release of The Curseand   Curse II from Scream Factory! Available on Blu-ray for  the first time, fans can pre-order their copies of this double feature by visiting ShoutFactory.com.  The original shocker is directed by actor David Keith (Firestarter,White of the Eye) with Will Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) in the lead and co-stars Claude Akins (Tentacles), Malcolm Danare (Christine), Cooper Huckabee (The Funhouse) and John Schneider (Smallville). The original theatrical trailer is included as a bonus feature.  This chiller sequel is filled with slithering horror stars Jill Schoelen (The Stepfather, Phantom of the Opera), Eddie Peck (Kyle XY), Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H), Shiri Appleby (Roswell) and Bo Svenson (Walking Tall Part II).

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The Curse Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0Dexter-0

Life on the family dairy farm is difficult for young Zach Hayes: hard work, long hours and the normal family squabbles. But after an ice-blue meteor plunges through the midnight sky and lands on their property, it gets worse. Zach and the local doctor discover that something inside the meteor is infecting the local water on their farm. Fruits, which look perfect on the outside, are teeming with worms… and Zach’s family is beginning to change… hideously!

Actor David Keith makes his directorial debut with The Curse.  Closely based off of an H.P. Lovecraft tale no doubt.  Rumor has it some of the heavy effects sequences were overseen by legendary Italian horror/giallo maestro Lucio Fulci.  So, nice to see David Keith having some taste.  Keith also had Will Wheaton fresh off of Stand By Me success and landing Star Trek: The Next Generation that same year.  Wheaton is solid here in a B-level horror film, but the best thing comes from the trailer where they say “Will Wheaton of Stand By Me will stand alone against The Curse.”

Strange is how this movie mostly is.  Its got some stuff dealing with familial issues that is a bit more serious, but overall the “monster” or “curse” stuff in the film feels more fun and goofy.  They put on a make-up and goopy effects show with terror chases and the like from an alien object.  Its a short, entertaining little weird burst, that is neither great but not complete shit either.

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Curse II: The Bite Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0

Two young lovers, Clark and Lisa, traveling through the desert unwittingly pass through an abandoned nuclear test site which has become a breeding ground for deadly mutant killer snakes. When Clark is bitten, he undergoes a grotesque transformation into a hideous snake monster!

What we have here with the sequel is what people refer to as a “Euro sequel” where a movie is made that has nothing to do with the previous film and may have been shot under a different title but lumped as “Part 2” in order to sell it better.  No events of the first film are referenced here, no space.  The strange stuff seems to have come from toxic waste.  There are also a third and fourth entry into the Curse series, those also being films that have little to do with one another.

If it wasn’t for the lovely Jill Schoelen (One of my all time favorite Scream Queens, very high on the list too), I probably would have been far more bored with Curse II: The Bite.  There’s not a whole lot of horror stuff going on, just mainly some relationship troubles between a young couple.  However, when shit hits the fan, it hits the fan and there are some awesome gore effects to accompany it.  We basically have a sort of possession/transformation movie that is about a guy who gets bit by a radioactive snake and then starts acting strange and changing into something paranormal.  Its got itself some strange, but for the most part, this movie was a lot of just me basking in the greatness of Jill Schoelen.

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Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  These aren’t going to win “best transfer of the year” awards, but I must say I was quite impressed with how clean and bold the images on both films came out.  They have great color palettes on display in a tight image with plenty of details coming through.  Aside from styles and some effects, they surprisingly don’t look as dated as they could have.  This could have been a quick “get em out and be done with it” from Scream Factory, but they have shown some good care here with both of these films.

Depth:  Both films feature smooth cinematic movements.  Background detail is at the surrender of the focus.  Spacing and distancing is above average.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep enough and serve for some good shadowing and sharpening.  Not a whole lot of detail is lost in the darkness or on fabrics and hair.  Its impressive given the movies at hand.

Color Reproduction:  Colors pop at the right ideal level on these.  Green tends to stick out really well (The grass in the first film looks lovely).  Clothing colors and the like all feel bold but look true to form.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are consistent and lean toward a natural appearance.  Facial details do show up much better in close-up shots, but there are many medium shots that impress.  Make-up on the “cursed” folks does look quite nifty with detailed textures and goop.

Noise/Artifacts:  These are surprisingly very clean transfers.  No real problems to report.

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Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Both films feature similar sounding audio tracks.  Effects sound good and well rounded, but lack a bit of oompf behind them.  A nice blending and balance of vocals, score and effects fill out these very enjoyable audio mixes.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp and clean.

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Extras Dexter-_5Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0Dexter-0

This double feature has addition promotional images on the reverse side of the cover.

The Curse Trailer (HD, 1:43)

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0Dexter-0

Everybody enjoys a little bit of weirdness…sometimes even double the weirdness.  The Curse films are a goofy bunch and there’s some fun to be had in checking them out.  I remember seeing the boxes at my local rental store growing up but never checked them out.  Had I known Jill Schoelen was in the second one I probably would’ve by now.  This Blu-ray comes through with some really good presentations on both, sadly being extremely light on the extras.  For those interested, this is a fun and solid release.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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