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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Curse

A story about PMS and werewolves

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 5, 2000 (Updated and corrected October 23, 2001) -- "The Curse" is a pretty good little independent horror film produced on a tiny budget. The lack of big stars and expensive special effects are the most noticeable signs of its miniscule budget ($37,000).

Writer-director Jackie Garry developed "The Curse" from a short, "Saturday Night Live" kind of sketch, she said during a talk at the Gladys Crane Mountain Plains Film Festival, where the film received an early screening September 16. The plot also closely resembles an episode of "The X-Files" where a mysterious PMS killer rips people apart in a small town.

The story has Frida (Amy Laughlin), a downtrodden administrative assistant working in the television industry in New York, being bitten during a clothing sale melee. Soon, she begins to change with the cycles of the moon. While she was barely noticed before, men suddenly are attracted to her, especially during that time of the month. Her friend, Jennifer (Sara Elena Knight), starts getting jealous when men start hitting on Frida. The problem is, the men Frida dates start dying horrible deaths. There's a nice subplot about how being a werewolf makes Frida more assertive. It is also ironic how PMS makes Frida more attractive. It is tacitly understood that men attracted to Frida solely because her improved looks, and larger breast size, get what they deserve.

One of the police detectives investigating the murders, named Peter (Mike Dooly), falls in love with Frida. Will he be her next victim? The actors do a fine job with the smartly-written script, laced as much with humor as mayhem. There is a lot of blood and gore in the film, but most of the violence is suggested and almost all of it is off-camera. Suspense is built up slowly and maintained well throughout the film.

One can see a certain Coen brothers influence in the film, which Garry acknowledged after the screening. The Coen brothers used a low-cost method of surface skimming photography (two guys holding the ends of a piece of lumber with a camera mounted in the center). Bud Gardner, the director of photography on "The Curse" used a method similar to that used by the Coen brothers to imitate the effect of a Steadicam without incurring the expense of renting one.

Probably the editing could have been a little tighter and the payoff scenes in the movie would have benefitted from a healthy special effects budget, but it is a very impressive effort, given the constraints. This film rates a C+. I originally wrote last year that "I doubt this movie will pick up a distributor, so probably the easiest place to find it would be at film festivals and in video stores." It turns out that was an incorrect prediction. The film has just been picked up Arrow Releasing and will be distributed theatrically in 20-plus U.S. cities starting in November 2001 with the DVD/video release scheduled for June 2002.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]