Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Curse II: The Bite" (1989) d/ Federico Prosperi

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More snakes tonight, sort of. If by "snakes" we instead mean "eighties soap opera guy bitten by a radioactive snake after which his hand transforms into a giant, murderous snake head." As hard as it is to follow up a sentence of that reverse momentousness, I'm still gonna try, damn it. As you'd expect, tonight's review has fuck all to do with The Curse (1987), and is a sequel in name only. You still might want to endure the farcical plot, unremarkable acting, and uninspired direction, though, just to get a look at the vintage prosthetic effects action, as provided by the one and only Screaming Mad George.

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"Those strawberry preserves...I wished lunch would never end!", exclaims Doc Marder (Sandy Sexton).
Clark and Lisa (J Eddie Peck, Jill Schoelen) are young lovers taking a desert shortcut to Bakersfield, California, against the cautionary advice of a local gas station attendant. You should always listen to these guys, they know more than washing your windshield and checking your oil, it would seem. After haphazardly barreling over a roadblock of live snakes near a nuclear test site, they take on a poisonous hitchhiker in the form of a mutated Bushmaster, who stows away in Lisa's acoustic guitar, later chomping down on Clark's inquisitive mitt. Harry Morton (Jamie Farr), a travelling salesman with a penchant for CB radios and the mouth-breathing goobers that utilize them, administers an antidote, which soon turns out to be the wrong one, of course, sending the amateur herpetophile chasing after the couple, whose road trip takes a turn for the even worse when he develops a palate for flies in his beer, and his girlfriend's caged love birds. He's also taken to relate the conversation between the five fingers and the face to her, but she sticks around anyway. And what's going on under that neatly wrapped gauze?

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Jill Schoelen is beaucoup hot, even when juxtaposed against a backdrop of goopy drawers.
After Clark's mystery mitt proves to work independently from the rest of his body in pulling a yappy doctor's mandible from her face, and yanking a fellow's blood pumper from his chest through his mouth, he decides to isolate himself from the public and forego any further medical assistance by exorcising it from his body via amputation, all by himself. Meanwhile, Morton's driving around with his ears on, in fear of impending lawsuits to his company, and comically tumbling into the sack with a linebacker-sized CB trucker woman, for good measure. Clark's also set upon by a particularly mean-spirited sheriff (Bo Svenson) who offsets the normally level-headed constabulary we all know and love, and arrests him on suspicion that he's a tar addict. Reasonable. Eventually, we reach a bananas climax where we find Clark's mitt has miraculously grown back into a giant snake head, which causes his eye to fall out, and also makes him regurgitate live snakes. Will Lisa's rotten taste in men come back to lay fangs into that choice late eighties piece of celluloid tail or will it all turn out ambiguously with hopes of another uninspired, unrelated sequel on the horizon? I'll let you find out for yourselves.

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Sesame Street should have gone in this direction, and envenomated Elmo. Not Mr. Hooper though.
Besides stints on Young and the Restless and Days of our Lives, and numerous television roles over the years, J Eddie also has 1990's Lambada under his cinematic belt. How many of us can say that? How many of us would. Jill Schoelen has scored genre credits in movies like The Stepfather (1987), Cutting Class (1989), Phantom of the Opera (1989), and Popcorn (1991). Besides his turn as the crossdressing Corporal Klinger on M.A.S.H., Jamie Farr has appeared in things like The Gong Show Movie (1980), Arnold (1973), Heavy Traffic (1973), and Blackboard Jungle (1955). Sydney Lassick you'll remember from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Alligator (1980), The Unseen (1981), and Carrie (1976). Bo Svenson can be seen in things like Snowbeast (1976), Inglorious Bastards (1978), and Armour of God (1986). As I said before, if you go in on this one with floor-scraping expectations, looking for eye-popping special effects typical of the era, if not often coherently explained away, then you'll get a kick out if it. On a technical level, though,  it manages but a single Wop. Approach with caution.

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Somebody's doing some good blotter on the set.
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