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Default Cursed (Unrated)




Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: June 12, 2005

Released by: Buena Vista
Release date: 6/21/2005
MSRP: $29.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.40:1 | 16x9: Yes



A good werewolf movie is hard to come by. There are the modern day classics, such as Howling, An American Werewolf in London, and the more recent Ginger Snaps trilogy. Lets not forget the underrated Bad Moon, either. But excluding the aforementioned few, the vast majority of werewolf movies are garbage. An American Werewolf in Paris is best left forgotten. The same can be said of nearly all Howling sequels (though there are a few half decent ones). I was filled with 'reserved excitement' when, years back, I heard about Wes Craven's Cursed werewolf movie in the works. Craven has made some great films, but he crashed and burned with the Scream trilogy, along with nearly every 'Wes Craven Presents' film being lackluster at best. As many know, Cursed went on to have major scripting problems. Half way through the shoot, the movie was rewritten and recast; several actors from the original shoot were cut. The film was finally released in the United States in 2005, but as a final curse, it was released PG-13 - with many gore scenes trimmed or cut completely.

In what is becoming the norm for horror on DVD, Cursed has been released onto DVD in both Unrated and Rated (PG-13) cuts. Itís worth noting that on one of the featurettes on the DVD, itís mentioned that the U.S. DVD is simply the R rated cut (it was released Rated R in Canada).

Was Cursed worth the wait? Has Craven finally redeemed himself? Lets take a look at the Unrated cut and find out.

The Story

inline Image Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) is the typical high school geek. He has no friends and is often picked on by other classmates. While out on Hollywood Blvd one night, Jimmy runs into Brooke (Kristina Anapau), a cute girl from his school that he clearly has the hots for. The two begin to talk, but things turn sour when Bo (Milo Ventimiglia), Brookeís boyfriend, arrives and starts teasing Jimmy by calling him gay. Jimmy high tails it out of there and waits for his older sister Ellie (Christina Ricci) to pick him up.


inline Image Jimmy and Ellie live alone; their parents died recently, leaving Ellie to look after her younger brother. Before picking Jimmy up, Ellie stops to see her boyfriend Jakeís (Joshua Jackson) new club - Tinsel Hollywood - which has a horror theme to it. Ellie finally arrives to pick up Jimmy, who is a bit nerve wracked after having to wait around for his ride. On the way home, their car strikes a large animal on Mulholland Blvd. They end up colliding with another car and knocking it off the road and down into an embankment. The car is upside down and the driver (Shannon Elizabeth) is frantically trying to get out. Jimmy and Ellie finally manage to get her unbuckled, but all three are quickly dragged off into the woods by the large animal. Jimmy and Ellie survive the ordeal, but both have wounds from the attack.

inline Image Jimmy knows that it was no animal that attacked them. He believes it was a werewolf, which Ellie finds outrageous. The two soon discover that Jimmyís suspicion is true. They both begin to have increased senses, strength, and a lust for blood. As their path to becoming werewolves begin, the two embark down a bloody road of lust, jealously, and betrayal that will ultimately lead them to the werewolf that attacked them. The only way for the two cursed siblings to avoid their fate is to destroy that werewolf.


inline Image I really wanted to like Cursed. I love werewolves and I hoped for a return to greatness from Craven. Sadly, that just didnít happen with Cursed. Kevin Williamson, famous for writing each of the Scream movies, delivers a juvenile and predictable story that fails to hold viewer interest. Taking a creature of any sort - werewolf, vampire, etc. - and dropping them into a modern day setting can work. That has been proven countless times - An American Werewolf in London and Lost Boys are two great examples. While Ricci and Eisenberg are both great actors, even they canít save Cursed. Due to poor character development, viewers simply will not care about their individual characters. The whole Ďnerd who becomes strong and gets revenge on those that teased him, plus gets the girlí is overplayed in Hollywood and is far too predictable.

Most already know that Cursed suffered scripting problems from the get go, causing it to be delayed for years. Even so, the buck stops at Williamson and Craven. Perhaps studio tampering is ultimately to blame, but Williamson and Craven donít exactly have a good track record these days, at least in my opinion.

CGI can work in movies; I am far from anti-CGI. I thought CGI was perfect for something like Hulk. Thereís simply no better way to bring a comic book character to the big screen. While a werewolf isnít a comic book character, CGI can still be appropriate for horror movies - if used sparingly, and with traditional effects as well. How many scenes in movies like Howling and An American Werewolf in London showed a fast moving werewolf? None, really, and that is where CGI should be used, though even then it should be used sparingly and for quick shots. The problem with the effects in Cursed is that the overuse of CGI results in a werewolf looking completely different depending on the scene and type of werewolf being used. Cursed has three types of werewolf effects - CGI, costume, and animatronic. Costume and animatronic can look similar enough - that is easy. But the CGI werewolf looks completely different than the other two.

inline Image inline Image

One thing that can be blamed solely on the studio is the PG-13 rating, which is often done to try and make more money by getting the younger audiences into theaters. Luckily, for those that liked Cursed, the DVD has been released in both Unrated (the R rated cut, simply not submitted to the MPAA) and the theatrical PG-13 cut. And there are some nice gore scenes added back in. There is one showing Shannon Elizabethís character with the lower half of her body torn off, along with a nice decapitated head later on in the movie. The are other scenes, some of which are simply extended scenes to show more gore.

inline Image inline Image

Image Quality

The DVD is presented in a 16x9 widescreen transfer in the original 2.40:1 aspect radio. The transfer is near flawless, with no visible blemishes or artifacts. The film does have some nighttime scenes containing fog, which can often produce mpeg artifacts, but none were present. Detail is sharp and colors are vibrant. No real complaints here.

Sound

Cursed is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Action scenes sound great and make good use of LFE and surrounds. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout the presentation. No audio blemishes were found.

Supplemental Material

inline Image First up is the 'Behind The Fangs: The Making of Cursed' is an 8-minute featurette filled with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. It's a fluff/promotional piece and doesn't contain anything worthwhile. The following featurette, 'The Cursed Effects' clocks in at 7 minutes. It focues on - you guessed it - on the effects and how both CGI and a traditional costume werewolf were used. It features interview with effects crew, including Greg Nictero (of Evil Dead fame) and various cast members discussing some of their acting in regards to effects. It's an interesting watch and I enjoyed seeing some of the behind-the-scenes effects work. The next featurette is titled 'Creature Editing 101'. It's about 6 minutes in length and features an interview with film editor Patrick Lussier. Patrick discussed the power an editor has over a film and the various challenges associated with editing Cursed. His comments on the challenges of getting the CGI and costume werewolf to look similar are interesting, since it goes back to one of the complaints I have on the movie. He never really discussed whether he thinks they succeeded or not, though this isn't surprising as he would no doubt put himself out of a job. The last featurette is titled 'Becoming a Werewolf' and runs 8 minutes. It was written and directed by actor Jesse Eisenberg (he plays Jimmy). It's a humorous take on some of the "research" that the effects crew might do on researching a werewolf. It features effects artist Greg Nicotero and even an appearance by director Wes Craven.

inline Image inline Image

A running commentary from Craven would have been great. I would have loved to hear some of the nightmare stories from all the troubles of getting this movie made. Sadly, Craven isn't present anywhere on the DVD (minus the gag featurette). Instead we are left with scene specific commentary from Greg Nicotero and actor Derek Mears. The actualy scenes featuring their commentary are: 'Car Wreck, Becky Dies', 'Parking Garage', 'Tinsel', and 'Final Fight'.

Final Thoughts

Cursed was indeed cursed - with a bad story, overuse of CGI, and a nightmare production. The DVD has a great audio/video presentation but the extras are lackluster. Both the PG-13 and R (ĎUnratedí) cuts were released onto DVD, which is nice as most will opt for the R cut that contains additional gore. With a $29.99 price tag, Iíd suggest a rental for most and a purchase only for die-hard fans - if there are any.

Rating

Movie - C-
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - C+

Technical Info.
  • Running time - 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • Color
  • Unrated (R Cut)
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • French Dolby Surround
  • Spanish subtitles
Supplements
  • Featurettes
  • Selected Scenes With Commentary By Special Effects Makeup Supervisor Greg Nicotero And Actor Derek Mears

 

 

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