The author is back once again with a public service post. Yes, I’ve taken another bullet for the team as I’ve found a new competitor for the all time worst movie ever made. I found one reviewer that claimed this one made PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE look like Citizen Kane by comparison. He may not have been wrong.
How John Agar ever got hooked up with this mess I’ll never understand. perhaps he needed the money. He plays geologist Barry Rogers. He’s to meet Driscoll West in a small hole in the wall and be lead to an area deep in the swamps where surface evidence of oil is to be found. At the beginning of the movie Driscoll West is hitting on a woman, Brenda Simmons, in a bar called the Fish ‘N’ Fly. All she and the bartender are doing is distracting him while a cohort, a young man named Ritchie, is rifling his room for maps to the location of this oil. They want to find this “treasure” so they can get out of this burg. West breaks away for some reason, returns, and catches the kid in his room. A fight breaks out and Ritchie pulls a big knife and kills him. No blood anywhere of course.
And Ritchie says, “He shouldn’t have tried to stop me.” In old parlance, Ritchie is not the sharpest knife in the drawer., a can short of a six pack, the elevator doesn’t go all
the way to the top floor. He thinks he has a “thing” for Brenda Simmons. Or rather that she does for him.
Now the plan becomes Brenda is Mrs. West, Mitchell was ill and couldn’t come, and they await the arrival of Rogers. The body is gotten rid of, chopped to bits by a logging device(not to worry, the actor gets to return later in the film as the swamp creature).
Our troop sets off with their guide, Rabbit Simms, in a boat. A word here about two of the actors. They may have been married. Both those that played Brenda and Rabbit had the last name of McLine, Shirley and Charles. We get about a minute and a half of scenes of them plowing different waterways, one assumes to show how deep they were getting into the swamp. Then they had to go on foot from there and we get scenes of them hacking their way through brush with a machete. A word about Brenda’s clothing. She wore a big safari hat, a jacket and pants, and boots, all snow white and we never, at any time of their slogging through the swamp, see any dirt or muddy water on her outfit.
Then there’s the mad scientist of this piece. Dr. Simond Trent(Jeff Alexander). He’s investigating human evolution, believing in the theory that humans were descended from reptiles and not mammals. Never mind that we have no characteristics of reptiles and so many of mammals. He’s working on a process to reverse evolution and he’s using the people of the swamps for his experiments. Here is another hilarious direction. The film is supposed to be set in the swamps of Texas, yet the black folks are referred to as natives, worship snakes, do the snake dance(a stupid looking jumping around, arms waving). As these “natives” get restless toward the end of the picture, there’s a constant back beat of African sounding drums.
The doctor has a wife, played by the lovely Francine York, that he keeps locked in a room. She’s terrified of him and thinks he’s become a little crazy.
Our crew arrives at the doctor’s abode. Here, deep in the swamp you remember, we have a house straight out of suburbia with a neatly trimmed lawn and bushes. A swimming pool in back with a greenhouse built over it holds a bunch of gators that he dumps his failures and the several murders that happen. He stands on the diving board and drops them in, but it’s obviously stock footage of gators in streams they show chomping on white sheets.
The Doctor’s, I guess you might call him head of security, is an older black man named Valjean. He is really a witch doctor type, wearing robes and a really ugly mask for the climactic scenes of the snake dance and urging his people to extract revenge on the doctor for the evil he’s brought on them. Watching from concealment is our boy Ritchie, brought there by Tracker, another of the Doctor’s staff, and he decides to have a little “fun” with the young black woman doing the dance when things break up. We know what will happen when Tracker warns him to watch out for the quicksand(here you go, Bill). As he ends up sinking to his help, he begs for help from the young woman, his voice never getting above a low monotone.
The Doctor’s wife has spoiled his latest experiment, an assistant who “volunteered” his services for science. He takes Brenda Simmons from her bed and says she’s perfect for the next stage. The latest protocols provide instant transformation.
As in all good monster movies, I use the term good here loosely, the “natives” descend on the compound, the doctor’s monster emerges, he urging it to kill them, and John Agar rescues the beautiful wife while the monster turns on the good doctor and take both into the pool full of gators(Bill would love that part), flying off together at the end in his little plane.
CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE was directed by Larry Buchanan, who seems to have something of a reputation, though I never heard of him. The location shooting is listed as Uncertain, Texas, USA. Some of the music played as background, the recording pretty low level, would seem more at home at times in a porn film. The acting is pretty abysmal throughout the film. Even Agar seemed to be going through the motions. This sanp of one of the actors might give you an idea just how bad.
If there are those among you that have a “stupid” streak like me, here’s a link to this classic. Enjoy.
For more, and better, overlooked movies, drop in Tuesdays on Todd Mason over at his blog, SWEET FREEDOM.