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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Sunday, October 8, 2023

The Curse of the Screaming Dead (1982)

Also known as The Curse of the Cannibal Confederates this Troma distributed movie opens with us seeing some zombies crawl out of their graves. Well sort of since the movie is so poorly light that I couldn’t see much of anything. Then we our treated to a group of hippies or at least as hippy as you can be in the early eighties driving in a camper van. The guys are up front and talk about hunting and camping while ripping on each other. The ladies in the back talk about not liking hunting and camping while also ripping on each other. I guess these couples were meant to be.

They park the camper van, talk some, grab backpacks (guess they are leaving the camper behind) and start walking. Then they talk some more while walking. Along the way we find out that one of the ladies, who is clearly looking around, is blind. She likes the most unlikeable guy in the group, which I suppose is sort of realistic. That unlikeable guy wanders off and finds an old graveyard with a box full of Confederate stuff. He steals a diary and later that night after more talking the zombies crawl up out of the graves. It is the same footage from the beginning of the movie which I supposed was used to get your attention. The hunters/campers get chased, meet up with some cops, get eaten, and then return the diary that was stolen from the box. The movie mercifully ends though that is ninety minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. 

It was only after I watched this that I did some research and found out that Troma’s own Lloyd Kauffman considers The Curse of the Screaming Dead to be one of the worst movies in their less than illustrious catalog. Sort of wished I knew that before watching it. Aw who the hell am I kidding I’d still have sat thru this. I have some sort of mental deficiency that makes me go looking for crappy movies like this and this certainly fits that bill. 

The pacing of the movie is awful. If you don’t count the footage being stuck before the opening credits in what I suppose was an attempt by the editor to make this not as miserable nothing happens for the first fifty minutes of the movie! Okay we get to see some zombies at the thirty five minute mark, but it takes them another fifteen minutes to walk to the campsite. Seriously there is a bunch of improvised dialogue and inane character chatting sandwiched in between scenes of them walking and sitting around in tents. I think the movie was shot on 16mm film but being in the woods means there is little to no attempts at lighting. You can see a spotlight on the character’s faces but everything else around them is impossible to see. 

If the terrible dialogue isn’t bad enough there are clearly sequences where they either didn’t shoot with audio or it was unusable. That means we get some lines clearly dubbed in at different audio levels or music blaring out of nowhere to cover the fact that you no longer hear them stomping around on leaves. This is one of those flicks where you will want to have the tuner handy as you will be fidgeting with the audio throughout. But at least that gives you something to focus on since the movie itself is tedious. 

The zombies look terrible and again we can barely see them. The uniforms of the Confederate zombies are clearly Union Blue. For you non history nerds that means they are from the other side of the Civil War. When not in uniform some of the zombies are wearing flannel shirts that look right off the rack at the local Sears department store. Oh and who knew that they had tube socks during the eighteen sixties. Don’t Google it… they didn’t. The makeup effects work is slapping on as much pancake makeup until they look “clumpy” and not caring if you see only the hands and faces are covered. Not like anyone will notice the necks. I get that this is a super low budget movie, but I will continue to shout at the top of my lungs. Indy filmmakers make sure you have the resources to tell the story you are going for. Then again that would have required them to have an actual script to determine that which clearly they didn’t have. 

I could go on with the day… night… day… night continuity errors between shots. The gore being red stuff laying on the top of t-shirts and not on the skin of the actors (I guess it must have grossed someone out…). But why waste anymore time on this one. Don’t watch The Curse of the Screaming Dead. Just don’t.

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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